Public goods are goods that can be consumed by all people (the general public) without exception (non-exclusion), either by paying or without having to pay for it because it is already provided for them. Characteristics of public goods are that when consumed by someone, it will not reduce / influence other people in consuming them as well. In other words, consumption of public goods does not lead to competition (non-rivalry) between people or parties to get them. Examples of public goods are public facilities, both physical and non-physical, such as: roads, city parks, electricity, drinking water, education, health services, defense and security, mass transportation, and others. The responsibility for the provision of public goods should be the government of a country, province or city directly. However, in practice, the provision of public goods can also be carried out by companies / corporations, both BUMN / D and private companies appointed or given rights by the government, in which case the government only acts as a regulator.
The opposite of public goods is private goods. Private goods, some call them economic goods, are any goods that can be consumed by a person for a fee. Unlike public goods, not everyone can obtain private goods (exclusion) and when someone has consumed them, the opportunity for others to obtain the same goods is reduced (rivalry). Almost all the things that people buy for their own use are private items.
It is a challenge for the government to ensure the availability and maintenance of public goods so that all people can enjoy it. Although the consumption of public goods does not indicate a person’s level of social status, the availability of public goods that are ready to use and safe for consumption greatly supports the people in carrying out their economic and social activities in order to gain welfare. The challenge for the government is mainly the difficulty of getting corporations or investors involved in the provision of public goods. This is reasonable considering that this public good is not a sector that is economically easy to generate profits for its providers. It is very different from the provision of private goods, without even government intervention, the private sector will be happy to turn this sector into a profitable business.
Another challenge is how the government manages the free-riding phenomenon in the consumption of public goods. Simply put, free-riding is the existence of parties who enjoy public goods but do not want to contribute or be involved in their provision. This is important to overcome, because the government is tasked with creating a fair and conducive climate for all groups to create harmony in people’s lives. An example is taxes. It is very clear that one of the functions of taxes is to build public facilities that can be enjoyed directly by the community. The existence of parties who do not or are reluctant to pay taxes, called free-riders, but who enjoy public facilities will clearly disturb the harmony in social relations in society.
Now I will highlight the provision of public goods by the government in Indonesia in the form of educational facilities. It has become the basic mandate of our constitution in the Preamble of the 1945 Constitution that one of the ideals of independence is to educate the nation’s life. The government is the executive party that has received a mandate from the state to realize the ideals of educating the nation through education. Talking about the world of education, we are not only talking about the physical buildings of schools where the nation’s children learn. Nor does it just provide employment opportunities for educators to work and earn a living. More than that, the world of education is a noble mission to realize the vision of educating this nation. Therefore all matters that are prerequisites for the implementation of education must be pursued by the government.
The superstructure and education infrastructure must be provided by the government. The Indonesian nation is fortunate, because the education sector always gets great attention from the government and all stakeholders. The education sector has always been the government’s main development program in the HR sector. Since the early days of the New Order regime with its Pelita and GBHN programs, the education sector has always received a fairly large portion of APBN funds. Especially in the reform era, the education sector was pegged to receive a budget allocation of no less than 20 percent of the APBN each year, something that had never happened in the previous government era. In addition to financing the provision of various educational infrastructure, this budget is also used to fund the superstructure, such as the preparation of curricula, various programs, systems and applications, as well as for the operations of educational institutions such as Ministries / Institutions at the central level, as well as all regional offices and agencies.
In every change of government cabinet, who will be appointed as Minister of Education always attracts public attention and becomes a hot issue in the mass media. This is reasonable considering that the Ministry of Education is the captain who will formulate various strategic policies in the field of education for the entire nation. This ministry has a big role in determining the competitiveness of Indonesian human resources in the future. Of course this is positively correlated with the level of national progress, because human resources are assets that become historical actors who will color the life of the nation.
In the course of time, since the New Order era, we have experienced several changes in the national system, policy and curriculum ranging from primary, secondary to tertiary education. Policy makers in this sector must have the same understanding about where the world of Indonesian education will be taken. This is because there is clear guidance in the form of a constitution and laws regarding the formulated education system. It’s just that at the implementation level, there are many choices and discretions from policy makers that make the course of the policy different from one minister to another who replaces it. However, all agree that education must be inclusive. It is the right of every citizen to receive instruction. Educational opportunities provided by the government have become public goods that should be easily accessed by every citizen without exception (discrimination).
What is the role of the government and the private sector in providing educational facilities in Indonesia. The role of government is clear, as has been discussed in the previous paragraph. This is because the government has the capability in terms of its main tools, namely: budget, systems and human resources. However, the government cannot prohibit private parties from contributing to the provision of these educational facilities. Because of the many educational facilities, there are people who are still not satisfied with the services provided by the government, for example about the curriculum, facilities, and supporting facilities. So it is understandable if the private sector sees this as a business opportunity to enter the education sector. We see many elite private schools that charge high fees to students who are their target market. Is this a distortion or abuse? I see it not. This is because the government still has the authority to oblige the national curriculum and set graduation standards throughout Indonesia, both public and private schools. In addition, the existence of private schools actually broadens the options for people to enter, according to their respective abilities.
With such a large budget allocation, the government has more flexibility in providing free educational facilities to the public. This has been implemented since the reform era until now. By providing cheap educational services for the entire community, the educational facilities provided by the government are getting closer to their ideal form as a public good. However, we all still remember when at one time, our education world experienced some kind of discrimination. At that time, for the primary and secondary school levels, there were clusters of school types. There are schools that declare (or are declared?) A national standard school, some have an international standard, and some are just in the preparatory stage. Or also a kind of dichotomy between favorite and disliked schools. This condition becomes unfair, because the opportunity for residents to get the best education is hampered by expensive entrance fees. This happens in public schools though. Even though the child’s level of intelligence has met the requirements. Only because the family’s financial capacity was lacking did the opportunity disappear.
The current government policy that imposes a zoning system for school entry at the primary and secondary levels by prioritizing the distance factor from the student’s domicile to the school has become a kind of policy that is pro to education inclusiveness. School children are no longer clustered according to their academic level and their parents’ financial abilities. I support this policy. However, the challenge that must be answered by the government is the obligation to provide schools with uniform quality and facilities (standards) throughout the country. All the nation’s children from Sabang to Merauke must have the same opportunity to get the best education that is cheap and without discrimination. Hopefully.