The Institute of International Education’s affiliate in Indonesia, the Indonesian International Education Foundation (IIEF), hosted a seminar in Jakarta entitled, "Why Indonesia Should Invest in International Education," on February 14, 2012.
The goals of the seminar were to engage key stakeholders (government, education institutions, investors, NGO/philanthropic organizations, etc.) in a dialogue on the role of international education in building national competitiveness and preparing tomorrow’s workforce.
IIE's Diana Kartika Jahja, Director of IIEF, opened the seminar by acknowledging how international experiences can empower students to make a difference in their communities. Additionally, a new program, “Program to Increase Indonesian Student Competitiveness,” and a new logo of IIEF were also launched in the seminar. Ir. Harris Iskandar, Ph.D., the Secretary of The Directorate General of Higher Education, highlighted how Indonesia education regulation has supported international education through various scholarship programs especially for graduate programs BAPPENAS and DIKTI scholarships.
Speakers included Dr. Allan E. Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education (IIE); Dipl. Ing. Shanti L. Poesposoetjipto, Chairman of PT. Samudera Indonesia, Tbk and PT. Asuransi Bintang, Tbk and CEO of PT. Ngrumat Bondo Utomo and PT. Samudera Indonesia Tangguh, Jakarta; and Ir. Yahya R. Hidayat, M.Sc., Ph.D., Head, Center for Planners Development, Education and Training, The State Ministry of National Development Planning/National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS). Ahmad Fuadi, Author of Negeri 5 Menara – a best-selling book that will be adapted into a movie, Journalist, and Fulbright alumn, served as the moderator of the event. Mr. Fuadi noted that three out of six Indonesian presidents have studied overseas. In addition, 50 percent of the current cabinet member were overseas graduates. These facts elicited several questions: How do we define international education? What is international? How should Indonesia invest in international education?
Ms. Poesposoetjipto touched on the importance of education in producing future leaders in Indonesia, and on the ways in which companies are growing increasingly global and virtual. Ms. Poesposoetjipto called attention to programs from the Indonesian Government that improve educational standards in remote areas of the country and foster educational development in urban areas, but she also emphasized the importance of securing the collaboration of the private sector in supporting governmental programs in education.
Dr. Goodman highlighted the seminar’s theme by recounting a dinner he had shared recently with several Fulbright students. At the dinner, they discussed how these students have navigated the diverse cultures, peoples, and religions in Indonesia. Dr. Goodman then described three primary reasons for why Indonesia should invest in international education. In particular, he stated that through international education Indonesians will gain mutual understanding, be able to live with and understand other peoples and cultures outside of the classroom, and bring back graduates who will be able to develop their community, environment, people, and government.
Mr. Hidayat, the head of the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), spoke about the importance of building human capacity in the country, especially through the Indonesian goverment. Previously, English capability had been a major obstacle not only for students hoping to study internationally but also for those in domestic universities. To alleviate this problem and others, BAPPENAS now offers many domestic and international scholarship programs at the doctoral and graduate levels. The primary aim of these programs is to enhance the Indonesian government apparatus to become professional.
While education is very important from the private sector’s point of view, it is still uncommon for many employees to pursue a doctorate. Therefore, a private-public partnership is needed to involve the government as a provider of overseas study opportunities, and also to involve companies in providing greater research experiences for their employees, which will lead to the subsequent companies’ development.
During the conference, there were concerns raised about how Indonesian students would re-adapt to their home country after returning from overseas. Previously, institutions had few reentry programs for their staff members who were returning from their overseas study. But now BAPPENAS has a new program for Indonesian scholars to apply their knowledge in Indonesia. This institutional initiative called HDP (Human Development Plan) ensures that institutions develop career plans for their domestic and overseas scholars. This is will lead to what Dr. Goodman termed “brain gain,” which will enable returning scholars to share and apply their knowledge in their home country.
Internationalization is important in the development of Indonesia. We need to continue to prepare Indonesian students to be competitive in the global arena and ensure the sustainability of competitive advantage.