The government on Friday defended Indonesia’s sliding performance in the recently released 2011 Human Development Index by the United Nations Development Program.
“It is a pity that the decline was quite considerable, but we have to look into the specific factors,” as the index also dealt with fields like education and economy, said Lily Sulistyowati, director of health promotion at the Ministry of Health.
Indonesia’s rank has dropped significantly from 108 last year to 124, even though the country’s index itself slightly improved from 0.613 in 2010 to 0.617 this year.
However, the country’s 2011 index was still below the overall 0.63 average as well as the average of countries in East Asia and the Pacific, which was 0.671. Lily promised the ministry would “look into it.”
The HDI is a composite of various indicators in life expectancy, educational attainment and income, expressed as a value between 0 and 1.
The “life expectancy at birth” component of the HDI is calculated using a minimum value of 20 years and maximum value of 83.4 years. The education component of the HDI is measured by a mean of years of schooling for adults aged 25 years and expected years of education for children of school-entering age. The wealth component is measured by per capita gross national income.
“The result shows that the human development in Indonesia is slowing down compared to other countries,” said Dian Kartikasari, secretary general of the Indonesian Women’s Coalition (KPI).
When compared to the long-term progress of other countries in the region, such as China, Indonesia shows a lack of growth. In 1980, when the UNDP launched the index initiative, China scored below Indonesia. But it has been rising exponentially and managed to reach 101st place in 2011.
China managed to improve its life expectancy to 73.5 years while Indonesia only managed to get to 69.4 years.
Education also has not improved much in the country. On average, people older than 25 years of age have only received 5.8 years of education, while 13.2 years is expected. This number is the same as last year.
However, Sukemi, an adviser to the Ministry of Education, denounced the study, saying the UNDP’s data was flawed.
“Of course if they ask people above 25 the average will be low, but if they lower the age limit to 15, like the standard that we’ve been using, they would get a better result,” he told the Jakarta Globe.
He said that using the government’s standard, average schooling would be 7.92 years.
“The slide in rank was also caused by the fact that the UNDP covered more countries this year,” Sukemi said, adding that not all countries agreed with the valuation methods used by the UNDP in composing the indices.
“We have our own way of measuring our development.”
However, that does not mean the government disregards the HDI completely.
“Of course we don’t want to be left behind in terms of progress,” Sukemi said. “We will not be able to keep up with Singapore, but at least we should not be worse than Vietnam.”
Within the 10 Asean member states, Indonesia sits in the bottom four together with Vietnam, which ranks 128th, Laos (138th) and Cambodia (139th).
In its explanatory note for Indonesia, the UNDP mentioned that it was misleading to compare values and rankings with previously published reports.
“The underlying data and methods have changed, as well as the number of countries included in the HDI,” the report said.
This year, the Human Development Report covered 187 countries compared to 169 in 2010.