Indonesians Weak in Science and Mathematics? Here’s Why!

rasyiqi By rasyiqi - Writer, Digital Marketer
9 Min Read
photo of outer space
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

jlk – You’ve probably heard that Indonesians are weak in science and mathematics. Maybe you feel that way too. Perhaps you often complain and blame the education system, curriculum, teachers, or even yourself.

But do you know what the real causes are? Do you know what you should do to overcome them?

If not, then you need to read this article until the end. Because I will reveal secrets that you may have never heard before. I will provide you with facts supported by data and research.

I will also give you practical and effective solutions. I’m sure that after reading this article, you will feel more confident and motivated to learn science and mathematics. You will also feel prouder to be Indonesian. Are you ready? Let’s begin!

- Advertisement -

Fact 1: Indonesians Are Indeed Weak in Science and Mathematics

This is not just an opinion or assumption. This is a fact proven by international surveys conducted by the OECD, namely the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

PISA is a survey that measures the abilities of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, and science. The survey is conducted every three years in more than 80 countries worldwide.

The results of the PISA 2018 survey show that Indonesia ranks 75th out of 81 countries for mathematics, with a score of 379. For science, Indonesia ranks 72nd out of 81 countries, with a score of 396.

For reading, Indonesia ranks 74th out of 81 countries, with a score of 371. These scores are far below the OECD average, which is 489 for mathematics, 489 for science, and 487 for reading.

Moreover, Indonesia also lags far behind neighboring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. For example, Singapore ranks 2nd for mathematics, with a score of 569. Malaysia ranks 55th for mathematics, with a score of 440.

- Advertisement -

Thailand ranks 57th for mathematics, with a score of 419. Vietnam ranks 22nd for mathematics, with a score of 519.

So, there is no reason to deny or refute that Indonesians are indeed weak in science and mathematics. This is a reality that we must acknowledge and address.

Fact 2: Indonesians’ Weakness in Science and Mathematics Is Not Due to Lack of Intelligence

You must be wondering, “Oh, why does Indonesia’s performance in science and mathematics seem so behind?” Is it because we are genetically less blessed in the intelligence department? Or perhaps because we are too busy thinking about our next lunch plans rather than solving physics problems?

- Advertisement -

Indonesians are certainly not lazy or stupid; they just prefer to showcase their talents outside of science and mathematics. We are a nation that is diligent, resilient, and accomplished, especially when it comes to things that truly matter, like taking the perfect selfie or memorizing the lyrics of K-pop songs.

The evidence is clear: many Indonesian figures have successfully made a name for themselves internationally, especially when they pursue fields that are more “useful.” So, let’s face the facts: our weakness in science and mathematics is not due to a lack of intelligence.

We simply prefer to pursue our more “realistic” dreams, such as becoming Instagram influencers or TikTok stars. So, instead of blaming the outdated education system or curriculum, let’s thank our younger generation for teaching us the true meaning of “priorities.”

Fact 3: Indonesians’ Weakness in Science and Mathematics Is Due to These Factors

After conducting “research” that was incredibly deep and analysis that seemed like the work of elite researchers, I found a number of “factors” that seem very logical (or so others say) that cause us, the Indonesian people, to underperform in science and mathematics.

The first factor, which is very conventional and of course, unsurprising, is our extraordinary education system. Wow, who would have thought, right? Our education system still fails to be “engaging” and “inspiring” in providing quality education services.

The curriculum is still not “boring” enough, and of course, we still haven’t found a way to make it more irrelevant to the real world. It’s not “creative” and “innovative” enough, is it?

Then we have teaching methods that we all know are very “enjoyable” to experience. Who can resist learning from old textbooks that never change or teachers who teach in the same way since the Stone Age?

Of course, we’re still waiting for the day when we can solve math puzzles while singing and dancing.

Next, our culture that is very “indulgent” certainly does not support the development of science and mathematics. The culture of being ashamed to ask and afraid of being wrong has become familiar companions on our journey to becoming an “accomplished” nation.

Why do we need to ask or try new things when we can just rely on Google? And who cares about solving math problems when we can follow the latest TikTok trends?

Lastly, we have environmental factors that are also “unhealthy” for learning science and mathematics.

From noisy and dirty environments to a lack of support and appreciation, it seems that all of these have worked together to keep us on a path that is truly uninspiring.

So, those are the secrets behind our lack of achievement in science and mathematics. It’s not because we are less intelligent or talented.

No, it’s all because we live in a world that is so perfect with an unshakable system and a culture that makes it so easy for us to just be ourselves.


The first solution is to improve the quality of the education system. A brilliant idea! We just need to make the curriculum more flexible and adaptive, ensure that teachers have adequate competence, and of course, improve school facilities.

Oh, of course, nothing could be easier than changing the entire education system of the country overnight, right?

Then there’s the second solution: changing societal culture. Ah, so we just need to change the entire perspectives and values that have been ingrained in society for centuries? Of course, changing culture is an easy and quick task.

Indonesian society will surely happily abandon their old habits and switch to behaviors that support science and mathematics. No problem, right?

And the third solution is to create a conducive environment. Yes, because we all know that creating a safe, comfortable, and supportive environment is so easy, right? It just needs a little touch, and voila, all our problems are solved!

So, yes, these solutions are actually quite fantastic. There’s no doubt that if we all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” together, we will surely overcome this problem with ease.

Oh, sorry, I almost forgot that I’m talking about issues in science and mathematics, not fairy tales.

So, let’s see if these proposed solutions will actually produce the desired change or if they will just be another item on the list of unattainable dreams.

One thing is for sure, we have to wait and see.

Share This Article