Any curriculum innovation is carried out in the socio-political context in which some ideology is embedded in it. It follows that to be successful, any curriculum innovation should be designed, planned, implemented, and evaluated by considering the socio-political and ideological aspects. Experiences show that when the innovation initiative stemmed more from wishes to change than from the results of thorough evaluation in the existing development contexts, it was less successful than desired.  

This paper will present an analysis of Indonesian experiences in curriculum innovations in two different political systems in a challenging multicultural and multilingual situation in which exist development disparities and conflicting interests of preserving local cultures, strengthening nationalism, and enhancing global perspective. Some of the innovations have been successful and some others less successful. The success has been attributable to the effectiveness of the necessary in-service teacher training, although in some cases because not all the stakeholders are well-informed or lack of necessary leadership. The less successful innovation has been due to the gap between the innovation demand and the school readiness. All of these are also experienced with the latest innovation through the introduction of the 2013 Curriculum with its high demand for teachers’ high order thinking and pedagogical skills to facilitate the development of students’ Indonesian character and 21st Century skills.

The paper ends in a proposal of an empowering approach to curriculum innovations to ensure that schools with different levels of development enjoy participating in the innovation.