Published: 19 Jan 2017

JAKARTA, INDONESIA – President University initiates a Focus Group Discussion on “Sustainable Education” participated by Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education of Republic of Indonesia, Director of Australia-Indonesia Center, University of Glasgow, and other respected speakers at Menara Batavia, Jakarta, Tuesday (17/1). Dr. Scott Younger, The International Chancellor of President University, moderated the FGD.

“In Indonesia we have seventy thousand of islands, with diverse languages and cultures. We surely have the potential to take the role in strengthening global market. However, to be influential we have to think big, start small, and move fast just like Pak SD Darmono’s quote. The country surely needs expertise in arts, biomedical technology, etc.”, said Prof. Budi S. Soepandji, the Chairman of President University Foundation, opening the FGD.

Drs. Abdul Wahid Maktub, Special Advisor to The Minister of Research, Technology, and Higher Education of Republic of Indonesia, commented that Indonesia should start focusing in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field to be influential locally and globally.

Dr. Jony Oktavian Haryanto, The Rector of President University agrees that investment should be done for STEM and education sector as a whole. He also added that frequently we only talked about the universities in Java. There is a disparity for the rest of Indonesia, taking example of the 9th grade students in some of the Eastern Region of Indonesia are equal or even lower compared to 7th grade students in the Western Region of Indonesia. According to him, the Government should really pay attention to this.

Furthermore, Jony said that the government should also pay attention to the salary gap between educators and people in business sector. This, somehow, creates a perspective that being a teacher doesn’t look like a promising career.

“You can be in the business faculty and undergo the study for 3 years to graduate and work in a bank. In the other hand, Engineers spent 5 years or more but they would end up working in the bank as well”, gagged Jony followed by the laughter’s of the other participants.

John Arnold, The Board of Trustees of British School, explained that education issue is a global challenge, not only in Indonesia. To compare to India or Korea, STEM is prestigious and they are encouraged to dive into it.

“Our barrier is to cross the feeling of comfort because we have so much natural resources. It might work at some point in time, but it won’t work in the 21st century. We will compete in global market, so if we don’t improve, they won’t need us and will go elsewhere. We need to keep our best brains here. If someone goes to Harvard, Cambridge, etc., would they want to come back to their home country? If the opportunities are not here, why would they want to come back?”, John said.

Abdul Wahid agrees that there’s no other choice but to invest to increase the quality. He admitted that Indonesia has problems dealing with quality.

“We had a setback for a while and we’re concerned about it. We’re doing many things to change the situation and we are putting a huge budget into fixing our education quality, investing IDR 20 trillion or around USD 1 million to integrate technology and research and also to improve vocational and professional skills. However to support that, we need to simplify the regulations as well”, explains Abdul.

In the other hand, Prof. Frank Coton from The University of Glasgow added more perspective by looking into the way of teaching nowadays.

“The way we change education hasn’t changed much in 500 years. Look at the painting from the classroom of Bologna for example. Nothing changed much there. Classroom is comparable to the airplane: turn off the mobiles and put trust in the pilot. The best way to understand a difficult concept is to hear it back from your students. University of Glasgow now use mobile for queries and studies. Transmitting information to students is easy. Classroom could be anywhere”, Frank said.

Kevin also made a point about the way of the teachers teach in the discussion. He said that the way of teachers teach have changed between generations so it’s possible that we will get better in the future.

“Just because you have a PhD, doesn’t mean that you know how to teach. Teachers should be able to teach. In this, they also need to get feedback from students. A message to all teachers: swallow your pride and get back on learning how to teach”, Kevin said.

Closing the FGD, Dr. Scott Younger, The International Chancellor of President University, who was there as the moderator summarized that Indonesia do need to increase our quality through educations and serious investment is needed. He also pointed out Kevin’s point about social fabric is also extremely important and that it is going to be a huge issue for human race. Betterments in the ways that the teachers teach also need to be done. Getting outside talent is also important and President University is significant to this as 40% of its students are ASEAN students. All in all, we know that the government is aware and is on our side with what we want to do.

Prof. Budi S. Soepandji, The Chairman of President University Foundation, Dr. Jony Oktavian Haryanto, The Rector of President University, Drs. Abdul Wahid Maktub, Special Advisor to Minister of Research, Technology, and Higher Education of Republic of Indonesia, Prof. Frank Coton, The Vice Principals of Academics and Education Innovations of University of Glasgow, Dr. David Parry, Commissioner of Nusantara Infrastructure and Nature Conservancy Indonesia, Kevin Evans, Director of Australia-Indonesia Center, John Arnold, Board of Trustees of British School of Jakarta, and Rory McDiamird, The International Recruitment Manager for South East Asia of University of Glasgow attended the FGD held by President University. (AA)