The Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java. (Antara Photo/Andreas Fitri Atmoko)

Heritage and Culture More Important Than Ever in Digital Era


DECEMBER 03, 2019

Jakarta. Students at all levels of education in Indonesia should start mining their cultural heritage and combine it with digital technology for their own future economic benefits, an education expert has said.

The Education and Culture Ministry must include cultural heritage as an independent subject in the school curriculum, Ananto Kusuma Seta told the Jakarta Globe on Monday, adding that the importance of heritage cannot be overstated, even in the digital era.

The special advisor to the ministry said that heritage, both tangible and intangible, can be used as a basis to educate children and young people. He said the ministry will continue to push for changes in the curriculum so that it pays more attention to cultural and environmental conditions.

"Students can prepare for the future by learning about their heritage. We should stop looking at our heritage as mere remnants of the past. Learning about heritage and culture will allow us to reach the three goals of education in this country. One, students can learn about themselves and their ancestors. Two, students can learn about their surroundings and lastly, the knowledge will incite further development in the arts and the creative industry which can then be used to create more innovations in the future, for them and for the next generation," Ananto said on the sidelines of a discussion on Indonesian heritage and its role in global peace and sustainable development.

If these ideals are achieved, Ananto said knowledge of heritage could form a strong base for the students to face the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0.

"The point of Industry 4.0 is not technology, but how to make a creator out of every child by teaching them communication skills, collaboration, critical thinking and compassion. Those are the foundations that will get them through whatever revolution in the industry. [But] we will lose out if we continue chasing after technology because it will keep evolving and leave us behind," Ananto said.

Ananto mentioned the example of a heritage and cultural tradition still practiced in Gunung Sewu in Central Java, where the residents have been following a strict diet for hundreds of years. Recently, it has been found that the diet was extremely nutritious and good for your health.

"What role can technology play in this case? Perhaps only to create an online platform to commodify the foods and drinks recommended by the diet," Ananto said.

"Technology is a tool – it's not the goal. While heritage, tangible ones such as dances and foods, can be resurrected to enrich the ecosystem and to benefit the economy. The more people learn about them, the more their value will increase," Ananto said.

The discussion featuring Ananto was held by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to celebrate United Nations Day 2019.

The other speakers in the discussion were Indonesian National Archives (ANRI) representative Imam Gunarto and journalist Aloysius Budi Kurniawan.