In a 2012 report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Indonesia ranks as the world’s 16th largest economy and is predicted to further grow and become the seventh largest by 2030, overtaking Germany and United Kingdom.
A rising power with great influence in Southeast Asia, it is safe to say that Indonesia’s presidential election this year could be one of the region’s most essential events of the year.
But the positive outlook and developments are not without challenges. Paramadina University rector Anies Baswedan has previously said in a statement that with an alarming human capital, the nation may have bigger issues to ponder upon. McKinsey's report also says that in order for Indonesia to stand in the top 10 global economy by 2030, the country must first produce thousands of skilled workers, making sure that it is Indonesians who will fully benefit from the economy.
Favorably, the Indonesian government has taken steps to seriously address the issue. In 2012, the Education and Culture Ministry, Finance Ministry and the Religious Affairs Ministry joined forces and established what is called the Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP), an institution aimed at shaping leaders and professionals as the locomotive of Indonesia’s progress.
LPDP provides full funding for full-time courses for students of the postgraduate level in any subjects at any of its listed top local and overseas universities.
Unlike any other scholarship providers, LPDP does not only assess its candidates through papers and interviews, but puts the candidates in a leadership programme before certifying them as the awardees and sending them to their respective universities.
On June 15-21 this year, 116 LPDP scholarship candidates from all walks of life met in Depok, West Java, as part of the leadership programme. In the program, organizers emphasized the importance of knowing the core issues of a nation as one of the key issues for Indonesia’s future leaders.
Mohammad Kamiluddin, the program leader of the event, said in his opening remarks that the leadership program is aimed at creating ambassadors who will be involved in developing the country once they have completed their studies.
“We need more than just bright people. We need a generation that respects time, the system and the people,” he said.
The composition of the program itself covered education, culture, economy, social entrepreneurship, history and journalism, involving prominent speakers who are experts and leaders in their own respective areas, such as Butet Manurung, Erie Sudewo, Tri Mumpuni, Komarudin Hidayat, Alfito Deanova, J. J. Rizal and Misri Gozan.
“The issue we have in Indonesia is that there are many leaders without [a sense of] leadership. We have many smart people but [they] lack character. What we need is education that develops both competency and character,” said Erie Sudewo, who was named Best Social Entrepreneur 2009 by Ernst & Young during his session.
Tri Mumpuni, founder and CEO of People’s Business and Economic Institute (IBEKA) as well as winner of a number of international awards, also addressed the flaws in today’s education system.
“The modern education system develops intellectual skills but lack [the efforts toward] building social skills,” she said.
The seven-day event ended with a remark from Eko Prasetyo, president director of LPDP, who said he hoped to see awardees of the scholarship program synergize and bring forward solutions to the country’s critical issues when they return from their studies.
While massive campaign activities by two presidential candidates ahead of the July 9 elections are taking place across the nation, LPDP’s efforts to prepare Indonesia’s younger generation for future leadership roles have undoubtedly strengthened confidence in the country’s future.
To Agustino, a participant from the LPDP scholarship candidate from Tanjung Pinang who will be studying nutrition and health sciences at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the event was an important part of his preparation before traveling abroad.
“This leadership programme has reminded of the importance of respecting the system, time and people. It has also nourished my nationalism.”
Meanwhile, Nina Imaniar, who will be taking her masters degree in biology at Australia’s University of Wollongong, said she was grateful to be part of the program and expressed hopes that more and more students from the eastern part of the country would be exposed to the program. “I hope to see more awardees from East Indonesia,” she said.