Education in Indonesia

Education in Indonesia
Ministry of Education and Culture
Ministry of Religious Affairs
Minister of Education and Culture
Minister of Religious Affairs
Muhadjir Effendy
Lukman Hakim Saifuddin
National education budget (2014)
Budget IDR 368.8 trillion (USD 27 Billion)[1]
General details
Primary languages Indonesian
System type Curriculum
Competency-based curriculum 14 October 2004
Literacy (2011)
Total 92.81%[2]
Male 95.59%
Female 90.07%
Primary 92% (26.9 million)
Secondary 77% (15.7 million)
Post secondary 32%[3]
Students wearing the pramuka (boy scout) uniform studying. This uniform is usually worn on either Friday or Saturday.
The students pictured above are listening to a guide at the Trowulan Museum, East Java whilst examining a model of the Jawi temple.

Education in Indonesia falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan or Kemdikbud) and the Ministry of Religious Affairs (Kementerian Agama or Kemenag). In Indonesia, all citizens must undertake nine years of compulsory education which consists of six years at elementary level and three in secondary level. Islamic schools are under the responsibility of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Education is defined as a planned effort to establish a study environment and educational process so that the student may actively develop his/her own potential in religious and spiritual level, consciousness, personality, intelligence, behaviour and creativity to him/herself, other citizens and the nation. The Constitution also notes that there are two types of education in Indonesia: formal and non-formal. Formal education is further divided into three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Schools in Indonesia are run either by the government (negeri) or private sectors (swasta). Some private schools refer to themselves as "national plus schools" which means that their curriculum to exceeds requirements set by the Ministry of Education, especially with the use of English as medium of instruction or having an international-based curriculum instead of the national one. In Indonesia there are approximately 170,000 primary schools, 40,000 junior-secondary schools and 26,000 high schools. 84 percent of these schools are under the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) and the remaining 16 percent under the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA). Private schools only comprise 7% of the total schools number.[4]


Early kingdoms

Education system in the era of Hindu-Buddhist civilisation is called karsyan. Karsyan is a place of hermitage.

Era of Islamic states

The emergence of Islamic state in Indonesia is noted by the acculturation of both Islamic tradition and Hindu-Buddhist tradition. At this time period, pondok pesantren, a type of Islamic boarding school was introduced and several of them were established. The location of pesantren is mostly faraway from the hustling crowd of the city, resembling the location of Karsyan.

Colonial era

Elementary education was introduced by the Dutch in Indonesia during the colonial era. The Dutch education system are Query strings of educational branches that were based on social status of the colony's population, with the best available institution reserved for the European population. In 1870, with the growth of Dutch Ethical Policy formulated by Conrad Theodor van Deventer, some of these Dutch-founded schools opened the doors for pribumi (lit. native Indonesians). They were called Sekolah Rakjat (lit. folk school), the embryo of what is called Sekolah Dasar (lit. elementary school) today.[5] In 1871 the Dutch parliament adopted a new education law that sought to uniform the highly scattered and diversified indigenous educational systems across the archipelago, and expand the number of teacher training schools under supervision of the colonial administration. The budget for public schooling was raised in steps from ca. 300,000 guilders in 1864, to roughly 3 million guilders by the early 1890s. Most often however the education development were starved of funding, because many Dutch politicians feared expanding education would eventually lead to anti-colonial sentiment.[6] Funding for education only count for 6% of the total expenditure of the colonial budget in the 1920s. The number government and private primary schools for native had increased to 3,108 and the libraries to 3000 by 1930.[7] However spending sharply declined after the economic depression in 1930.[6]

Technische Hogeschool te Bandoeng, opened as a branch of Delft University of Technology.

The Dutch introduced a system of formal education for the local population of Indonesia, although this was restricted to certain privileged children. The Schools for the European were modeled after the education system in Netherlands itself and required the proficiency in Dutch language. Dutch language was also needed for higher education enrollment. The elite Native/Chinese population who lack Dutch language skills could enroll in either Dutch Native or Chinese Schools. The schools were arranged in the following levels:

Neutrale Lagere School in Malang.
Inside a classroom of Dutch Native School in Bandung.

For the population in the rural area, the Dutch created the Desa Schools or Village schools system which aimed to spread literacy among the native population. These schools provide two or three years training of vernacular subjects (reading, writing, ciphering, hygiene, animals and plants, etc.), and served as a cheaper alternative schools. These village schools however received much less funding than the privileged European schools, thus the quality of education provided is often lacking. Despite of its flaw, the number of Village Schools has reached 17,695 by 1930.[7] The rest of the rural education were left to the work of Christian missionary, which are considered more cost-efficient.[7][8]

The segregation between Dutch and Indonesian in education pushed several Indonesian figures to start educational institutions for local people. Arab Indonesians founded Jamiat Kheir in 1905, Ahmad Dahlan founded Muhammadiyah in November 1912, and Ki Hajar Dewantara founded Taman Siswa in July 1922 to emancipate the native population. Pesantrens (Islamic Schools) were also mushrooming rapidly during these period.[9]

During the colonial period there was also a large gap between educated male and female population. In 1920, the island of Java and Madura out of the 6.5% literate male population, only 0.5% of the female native population are literate. Similar phenomenon can be observed on the Foreign Orientals (Arabs and Chinese), with 26.5% literate male population and only 8.5% literate female out of the total population. In the outer islands beyond Java the difference between literate male and female population are 12% and 3% out of total population respectively.[7] Inspired by a Javanese-born aristocrat Kartini who died young at the age of 25, the Van Deventer family worked to increase female involvement in education and received support from the Dutch government. Eventually leading to foundation of Kartini Schools in 1911.[7]

The Dutch colonial government also established a number of universities and colleges for native Indonesian on the island of Java. Prior to founding of Bandung Institute of Technology in 1920, there are no university-level of education in the country and students have to go abroad (mainly to Netherlands) in order to receive them. Most of these universities had become the country's top educational institution as of today. These educational institution are as follow:[10]

By the 1930s, the Dutch had introduced limited formal education to nearly every province of the Dutch East Indies, although by this period only 7% of the population were literate and 2% are fluent in the Dutch language. Around the Outer Islands beyond Java, to meet demand of schooling the Dutch government relied heavily on missionary schools that mostly provide basic and moral education.[7]

Japanese occupation

During the Japanese occupation in World War II, the various operation of the Dutch educational system were consolidated into one single operation that parallel the Japanese education system. The Japanese occupation marked the deterioration of education in Indonesia, as schools were organized with the goal of creating Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere of influence. As a result, schools begun training in military and physical drill that are anti-West oriented. It also include indoctrination of Japanese culture and history. Students were required to raise Japanese flag and salute the emperor every morning. The Japanese had made schools less stratified, despite of this the school enrollment had shrunk by 30% for primary education and 90% for secondary education by 1945.[8]

Post Independence

A schoolhouse in Kalimantan for eradicating adult illiteracy, c. 1952

Under the Japanese and Dutch occupation, most of the educational institutions were created to support the needs of the occupying power and there were very few efforts to promote the intellectual advancement of the indigenous population. After Indonesia finally declared its independence in 1945, the surviving education system was fragile and unorganized. In addition there was also a shortage of teachers, as most of the teachers had been either Dutch or Japanese. Very few Indonesians had experience in managing schools. Eager to address the neglect of focused education on native population, the first government of Indonesia had to create a system from scratch and reject the colonial European system. An act is declared in 1945 as Chapter 8, article 131, clause 1 that "every citizen has the right for education". The ministry of education, instruction and culture was founded with its first minister, Soewandi. The new institution sought to create an education that is anti-discriminatory, elitist and capitalist, in order to promote nationalism of the new republic of Indonesia. It is also decided that religion deserved a proper place and attention under the new republic, resulting in an increased support for Pesantren and Islamic Madrasah.[8]

Early education

Pre-School education in Indonesia is covered under PAUD (Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini, lit. Early Age Education) that covers Taman Bermain (playgroup) and Taman Kanak-Kanak (kindergarten, abbreviated as TK). PAUD is under direct supervision and coverage of Directorate of Early Age Education Development (Direktorat Pengembangan Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini). From the age of 2, parents send their children to attend Taman Bermain. From the age of 4, they attend Taman Kanak-Kanak. Most TK arrange the classes into two grades, grade A and grade B, which are informally called kelas nol kecil (little zero grade) and kelas nol besar (big zero grade) respectively. While this level of education is not compulsory for Indonesian citizens, it is aimed to prepare them for primary schooling. Of the 49,000 kindergartens in Indonesia, 99.35% are privately operated schools.[11] The kindergarten years are usually divided into "Class A" and "Class B" students spending a year in each class.

Public primary and secondary education

Indonesians are required to attend twelve years of school.[12] They must go to school six (or five, depending on the institution) days a week from 6:30 a.m. until afternoon (usually 2 or 3 p.m.).[13] They can choose between state-run, nonsectarian public schools supervised by the Department of National Education (Depdiknas) or private or semi-private religious (usually Islamic) schools supervised and financed by the Department of Religious Affairs.[13] Students can also choose to participate in extracurricular activities provided by the school such as sports, arts, or religious studies.[13] However, although 86.1 percent of the Indonesian population is registered as Muslim, according to the 2000 census only 15 percent of school-age individuals attended religious schools.[13] Overall enrolment figures are slightly higher for girls than boys and much higher in Java than the rest of Indonesia.[13]

A central goal of the national education system is not merely to impart secular wisdom about the world but also to instruct children in the principles of participation in the modern nation-state, its bureaucracies, and its moral and ideological foundations.[13] Beginning under Guided Democracy (1959–65) and strengthened in the New Order after 1975, a key feature of the national curriculum—as was the case for other national institutions—has been instruction in the Pancasila.[13] Children age six and older learned by rote its five principles—belief in one God, humanitarianism, national unity, democracy, and social justice—and were instructed daily to apply the meanings of this key national symbol to their lives.[13] But with the end of the New Order in 1998 and the beginning of the campaign to decentralise the national government, provincial and district-level administrators obtained increasing autonomy in determining the content of schooling, and Pancasila began to play a diminishing role in the curriculum.[13]

A style of pedagogy prevails inside public-school classrooms that emphasises rote learning and deference to the authority of the teacher.[13] Although the youngest children are sometimes allowed to use their local language, by the third year of primary school nearly all instruction is conducted in Indonesian.[13] Teachers customarily do not ask questions of individual students; rather, a standard teaching technique is to narrate a historical event or to describe a mathematical problem, pausing at key junctures to allow the students to call out responses that "fill in the blanks".[13] By not identifying individual problems of students and retaining an emotionally distanced demeanor, teachers are said to show themselves to be patient, which is considered admirable behaviour.[13]

Children aged 6–11 attend primary school, called Sekolah Dasar (SD).[13] Most elementary schools are government-operated public schools, accounting for nearly 93% of all elementary schools in Indonesia.[14] Students spend six years in primary school, though some schools offer an accelerated learning program in which students who perform well can complete the level in five years.

Three years of junior high school (Sekolah Menengah Pertama, or SMP), which follows elementary school.[13] Some schools also offer an accelerated learning program in which students who perform well can complete the level in two years.

After completion of them, they may be attend three years of high school (Sekolah Menengah Atas or SMA). Some high schools offer an accelerated learning program so students who perform well can complete their level within two years. Besides high school, students can choose among 47 programmes of vocational and pre-professional high school (Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan or SMK), divided in the following fields: technology and engineering, health, arts, craft and tourism, information and communication technologies, agro-business and agro-technology, business management. Each requires three years of study.[15] There are academic and vocational junior high schools that lead to senior-level diplomas. There are also "domestic science" junior high schools for girls.[13] At the senior high school level, three-year agricultural, veterinary, and forestry schools are open to students who have graduated from an academic junior high school.[13] Special schools at the junior and senior levels teach hotel management, legal clerking, plastic arts, and music.[13]

Students with disabilities/special needs may alternately opt to be enrolled in a separate school from the mainstream called Sekolah Luar Biasa (lit. Extraordinary School).

Indonesian education system is fourth largest in the world with more than 50 million students, 3 million teachers, 300,000 schools.[16] Primary to high school level is compulsory.[16] Primary and middle school is free, while in high school, there is small fees.[16] The completion rate for Indonesian primary schools is high.[16] In 2011, the net enrolment rate for primary education is about 95.55%, but the number of enrolment rate is decreasing for middle school to 77.71% and for high school to 57.74%.[16] While the tertiary-education participation is even lower about 27.1% although this number is still quite high compare to other member ASEAN states.[16] For the same year, the survival rate for primary, middle, and high school as the following numbers: 95.3%, 97.68%, and 96.8%.[16] The higher the percentage of survival rate means the fewer students at certain education level who are drop out. Although Indonesian government has achieved significant improvement in education sector, there are still many challenges that should be addressed, including funding, management, equity, and education quality.

Teacher-training programs are varied and gradually being upgraded. For example, in the 1950s anyone completing a teacher-training program at the junior high school level could obtain a teacher’s certificate.[13] Since the 1970s, however, primary-school teachers have been required to have graduated from a senior high school for teachers, and teachers of higher grades have been required to have completed a university-level education course.[13] Remuneration for primary- and secondary-school teachers, although low, compares favourably with that in other Asian countries such as Malaysia, India, and Thailand.[13] Student–teacher ratios also compare satisfactorily with those in many Asian nations: They were 23.4 to 1 and 18.8 to 1, respectively, for primary and secondary schools in 2004; that same year, the overall averages for Asia-Pacific countries were 22 to 1 and 18 to 1, respectively.[13]

By 2008, the staff shortage in Indonesia's schools was no longer as acute as in the 1980s, but serious difficulties remain, particularly in the areas of teacher salaries, teacher certification, and finding qualified personnel.[13] In many remote areas of the Outer Islands, in particular, there is a severe shortage of qualified teachers, and some villages have school buildings but no teachers, books, or supplies.[13] Providing textbooks and other school equipment to Indonesia’s 37 million schoolchildren throughout the far-flung archipelago continues to be a significant problem as well, especially in more remote areas.[13]

School grades

The school year is divided into two semesters. The first commences in July and ends in December while the latter commences in January and ends in June.

Level/Grade Typical age
Pre-school playgroup 3-4
Kindergarten 4-6
Primary School
1st Grade 6–7
2nd Grade 7–8
3rd Grade 8–9
4th Grade 9–10
5th Grade 10–11
6th Grade 11–12
Middle School
7th Grade 12-13
8th Grade 13-14
9th Grade 14-15
High School
10th Grade 15–16
11th Grade 16–17
12th Grade 17–18
Post-secondary education
Tertiary education (College or University) Ages vary (usually four years,
referred to as Freshman,
Sophomore, Junior and
Senior years)
Graduate education
Adult education


Disciplines Subjects Gr
# Name # Name Primary School Middle School High School
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th (NS) 12th (NS) 11th (SS) 12th (SS) 11th (H) 12th (H)
1 Education 1 Religion Green tick
2 Civics
3 Physical Education
4 Information Technology and Communication
2 Language (and Literature) 1 Indonesian Language Green tick
2 English Language
3 Traditional/Local Language (Sundanese, Javanese, Balinese, et al.)
4 Foreign Language (Mandarin, Arabic, Japanese, German, French, Korean, et al.)
3 Natural sciences 1 Mathematics Green tick
2 Physics Green tick Red X
3 Biology
4 Chemistry Red X Green tick
4 Social sciences 1 History Green tick
2 Geography Green tick Red X Green tick Red X
3 Economics
4 Sociology Red X Green tick
5 Humanities 1 Anthropology Red X Green tick
2 Indonesian Literature
3 Foreign Language (Higher Level)
6 Arts 1 Music Green tick Red X
2 Painting
3 Skill
4 Dancing
Total subjects 13 16 13

2013 Curriculum

Discipline Subjects Grade
# Name # Name Primary school [17] Middle school [18] High school [19]
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1 Education 1 Religion 4 3 2
2 Pancasila and civics 6 2
3 Physical education 4 2
4 Prakarya n/a 2
2 Language (and literature) 1 Indonesian language 6 4
2 English language n/a 4
3 Natural sciences 1 Mathematics 6 4
2 Physics n/a 1.5 2 n/a
3 Biology n/a 1.5 2 n/a
4 Social sciences 1 History n/a 1 2
2 Geography n/a 1 n/a
3 Economics n/a 1 n/a
5 Arts 1 Music 1
2 Painting 1
3 Skill 1 n/a
4 Dance 1 n/a
6 N/A 1 Peminatan Akademik n/a 2
2 Kelompok Peminatan n/a 16
Total hour subjects 30 36 42
Total subjects 6 8 10 14
Specialization groups (kelompok peminatan)
# Natural sciences Social sciences Language and literature Total hour
1 Mathematics History Indonesian language 4
2 Physics Geography English language 4
3 Biology Economics Traditional/Local language 4
4 Chemistry Sociology Foreign language 4

Islamic schools

Students in the dorm of a school of higher Islamic education, Bukittinggi, c. 1953

The secular and nationalist emphasis in public schools has been resisted by some of the Muslim majority.[13] A distinct and vocal minority of these Muslims prefer to place their children in a pesantren (Islamic boarding school), or Islamic school.[13] Usually located in rural areas and directed by a Muslim scholar, pesantren are attended by young people seeking a detailed understanding of the Quran, the Arabic language, the sharia, and Muslim traditions and history, as well as more modern subjects such as English, mathematics, and geography. Students can enter and leave the pesantren any time of the year, and the studies are not organised as a progression of courses leading to graduation.[13] Although the chief aim of pesantren is to produce good Muslims, they do not share a single stance toward Islam or a position on secularism.[13] Some pesantren emphasise the autonomy of modern students to think for themselves and to interpret scripture and modern knowledge in a way that is consistent with the teachings of Islam.[13] Others are more traditional and stress the importance of following the wisdom of elders, including their teachings on science, religion, and family life.[13] Although the terrorist bombings in Kuta, Bali, in 2002 raised suspicions about whether pesantren promote extremist views, the majority of these schools in Indonesia are theologically moderate, reflecting the views of the Indonesian population as a whole.[13] For those who opt for a pesantren education, a sixth-grade equivalency certificate is available after successful completion of a state test.[13]

In order for students to adapt to life in the modern nation-state, in the 1970s the Muslim-dominated Department of Religion (now the Department of Religious Affairs) advocated the spread of a newer variety of Muslim school, the madrassa.[13] This kind of school integrates religious subjects from the pesantren with secular subjects from the Western-style public-education system.[13] Although in general the public believes that Islamic schools offer lower-quality education, among Islamic schools a madrassa is ranked lower than a pesantren.[13]

Madrasah Ibtidaiyah (MI) is the Islamic schooling alternative to SD, following a curriculum with more focus on Arabic and Islam. Madrasah Tsanawiyah (MTs) is the Islamic schooling equivalent of SMP. Madrasah Aliyah (MA) is the Islamic schooling equivalent of SMA while Madrasah Aliyah Kejuruan (MAK) is the equivalent of SMK.

Higher education

The higher education institution is categorised into two types: public and private. Both are supervised by the Ministry of National Education. There are four types of higher education institution: universities, institutes, academies, and polytechnics.

Indonesia's institutions of higher education have experienced dramatic growth since independence.[13] In 1950 there were 10 institutions of higher learning with a total of about 6,500 students. In 1970, 450 private and state institutions enrolled about 237,000 students, and by 1990 there were 900 institutions with about 141,000 teachers and nearly 1.5 million students.[13] By 2009 there were 2,975 institutions of higher education and more than 4.2 million students.[13] Of these institutions, 3 percent were public, with 57.1 percent of the student enrolment, and 97 percent were private, with 42.9 of the student enrolment.[13] Even though government subsidies finance approximately 80 to 90 percent of state-university budgets, universities have considerably more autonomy in curriculum and internal structure than do primary and secondary schools.[13] Whereas, tuition in such state institutions is more affordable than private-university tuition, enabling attendance by students from relatively modest backgrounds, faculty salaries are low by international standards. Lecturers often have other jobs outside the university to supplement their wages.[13]

Private universities are generally operated by foundations.[13] Unlike state universities, private institutions have budgets that are almost entirely tuition-driven. A onetime registration fee (which can be quite high) is determined at the time of entry.[13] Universities with a religious affiliation may receive donations or grants from religious organisations.[13] The government provides only limited scholarship support for students wishing to attend private universities.[13]

Most of the 6,000 foreign students studying in Indonesian universities hail from Malaysia. In particular, they are in the fields of medicine, pharmacy, literature, humanities, Islamic studies and engineering. The majority are sponsored by the Malaysian government. These foreign students are dispersed across Indonesia in almost all public universities such as Universitas Sumatera Utara, University of Indonesia, Gadjah Mada University, Bandung Institute of Technology[20] and also in private institutions such as Universitas Kristen Krida Wacana (UKRIDA).

Indonesian degrees

Type of degree Indonesian term Equivalent in English-speaking countries
Diploma 1 (D1) Profesional ahli pratama Associate degree
Diploma 2 (D2) Profesional ahli muda Associate degree
Diploma 3 (D3) Profesional ahli madya Associate degree
Diploma 4 (D4) Sarjana sains terapan Bachelor's degree
Sarjana 1 (S1) Sarjana Bachelor's degree
Sarjana 2 (S2) Magister Master's degree
Sarjana 3 (S3) Doktor Doctoral degree

Foreign university

Foreign universities can operate in Indonesia, but they are required to co-operate with local universities. A final and binding Constitutional Court has rejected a judicial review proposed by six students to refuse foreign universities to operate in Indonesia.[21]

International education

As of January 2015, the International Schools Consultancy (ISC)[22] listed Indonesia as having 190 international schools.[23] ISC defines an 'international school' in the following terms "ISC includes an international school if the school delivers a curriculum to any combination of pre-school, primary or secondary students, wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country, or if a school in a country where English is one of the official languages, offers an English-medium curriculum other than the country’s national curriculum and is international in its orientation."[23] This definition is used by publications including The Economist.[24]

See also


  1. "Amid soaring education budget, performance remains low". Jakarta Post. 18 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  2. "Indonesia - Literacy rate".
  3. Indonesia: A Country Study by William H. Frederick, Robert L. Worden
  4. "World Bank and Education in Indonesia". World Bank. 1 September 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  5. "Nicht verfügbar". Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  6. 1 2 "Why was the Dutch legacy so poor? Educational development in the Netherlands Indies, 1871-1942".
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6
  8. 1 2 3 Indonesian Education: Teachers, Schools, and Central Bureaucracy by Novak Stephen, Christopher Bjork
  9. "Sedikit Uraian Sejarah Pendidikan Indonesia « Tinulad". Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  10. "Hendry's Site - 1. SEKOLAH MENENGAH". 10 April 1946. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  11. Kindergarten statistics between 2004-2005
  12. "RI kicks off 12-year compulsory education program". Jakarta Post. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 Kuipers, Joel C. "Education". In Indonesia: A Country Study (William H. Frederick and Robert L. Worden, eds.). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (2011).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  14. Primary School statistics between 2004-2005
  15. UNESCO-UNEVOC (July 2013). "Vocational Education in Indonesia". Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "ASEAN STATE OF EDUCATION REPORT 2013" (PDF). Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2013. February 2014. Retrieved July 2016. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  17. Kurikulum SD 2013
  18. Kurikulum SMP 2013
  19. Kurikulum SMA 2013
  20. "Foreign students in Indonesia mostly Malaysians". 23 May 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  21. "Foreign universities may operate in RI: MK". 14 December 2013.
  22. "International School Consultancy Group > Home".
  23. 1 2 "International School Consultancy Group > Information > ISC News".
  24. "The new local". The Economist. 17 December 2014.

External links

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