By Elika Kurniadi, IMPoME 2011, Universitas Sriwijaya

1. From concern to action

In the early 1990s, a group of mathematician and mathematics educators in Indonesia were worried about quality of mathematics education in Indonesia. They are six wise men who are very concern in this problem. They are Robert Sembiring (ITB, Bandung), Soedjadi(Unesa, Surabaya), Yansen Marpaung (USD, Yogyakarta), Pontas Hutagalung (PMRI, Bandung), Ruseffendi (UPI, Bandung), and Suryanto (UNY, Yogyakarta). They believe that mathematics education is the key for get better future of a country, Indonesia in particular.

They researched mathematics education system in many countries and choose to develop an Indonesia form of realistic mathematics education. Realistic mathematics education is a learning theory which developed in the Netherlands since the 1970s by Hans Freudenthal. They decided to create local version of realistic mathematics education, specially adapted to Indonesian culture. The story began in 1994 when Robert Sembiring from ITB attended the second International Commision on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) China Regional Conference in Mathematics Education in Shanghai. Through the contact of a plenary speaker , Sembiring invited a group of Dutch educators, some from the Freudenthal Institute, to come to Indonesia and initiated a programme of realistic mathematics in Indonesia. It is known as Pendidikan Matematika Realistik Indonesia (PMRI) or Realistic Mathematics Education in Indonesia. PMRI’s movement is bottom-up movement and start from the specific Indonesia situation.

2. A growing reform

The history of can be divided to be three important highlights :

a. Four very talented young master go on to obtain a PhD in Mathematics Education.

To start the implementation of RME in Indonesia, they needed experts in mathematics field. Sembiring and Pontas arranged for funding through Director General of Higher Education (DGHE). In 1998, there was a seminar in Bandung where 30 young master mathematics

educators would be selected for a PhD in mathematics education at the University Twente (UT) in cooperation with the Freudenthal Institute of Utrecht University (FI). The selection is done by Professor Tjeerd Plomp (UT) and Professor Jan de Lange (FI). They settled for 6 persons a PhD study on RME in the Netherlands. Four years later, four of them , Ahmad Fauzan, Dian Armanto, Sutarto Hadi, and Zulkardi received their PhD from that programme. These four are Professors of mathematics education and senior members of the PMRI team.

 b. Four universities and twelve affiliated schools start experiments and introduce PMRI

In 2001, the DHGE and AGAMA (Ministry of Religious Affairs) funded the PMRI team to start a pilot program with four teacher education institutes (LPTKs) and 12 schools(8 primary schools and 4 islamic schools, madrasah) in the vicinity of those LPTKs. The four universities are UNESA in Surabaya, UPI in Bandung, and USD and UNY in Yogyakarta. In the next year, a grant was awarded by Dutch government to conduct a PMRI support project for the period of 2003-2005 for starting PMRI movement.

c. The program is expanded from four universities in 2006 to eighteen universities in 2009.

As the group of involved educators continues to grow it become even harder to support the numerous start-up and follow-up workshops organized by the PMRI team. The goal of these workshops are enthuse teachers and help local team find schools that will work with them. The significantly growing movement is supported by consultants of APS- Dutch National center for School Improvement- and Freudenthal Institute (Utrecht University) have been involved since 2001.

3. Involving schools and universities

The PMRI team developed strategy that would expand PMRI from 4 universities to 8 universities and also from 12 schools to more than 200 schools for over ten years. Further, to get a group of people interested in PMRI, a few PMRI team members would come to university to help local mathematics educators to involve schools and teachers, known as socialization workshop. Staff members give a few hands-on workshops and add more theoretical overview of PMRI. Many good examples of good PMRI teaching in Indonesian are available.

There is a growing group consist of schools, teachers, lecturers and universitities that involved, the PMRI team will support their work into a P4MRI centre.


Sembiring, R., Hoogland, K., & Dolk, M. (2010). A decade of PMRI in Indonesia. Bandung, Utretcht: APS International.

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