Today, our Minister of National Education, Mr.Muhammad Nuh, came visiting us with his team as part of series of European visits. Initially, the gathering was intended as private session between a number of Dikti scholarship holders with the Ministry of National Education team. But, it turned out to be an open gathering, as more people outside the scholarships grantees were showing interest to join the event.
Limited with time before next flying to Geneve, not much time was given to all audiences to have everyone spoke for their concern and question. But, I this 2 hours discussion was enough to make sure that most issues are addressed. The talk started with Mr.Minister giving the introduction. He gave some brief updates about what the Ministry are doing with regards to national education sector.
The session continued with question/answer session with Mr. Minister first having the whole questions answered from general side, and in the last part of the discussion, the Director General of Higher Education elaborated some detailed answers. Most of the questions ranges from some scholarship management challenges dikti needed to tackle and the opportunity for extending the grant.
My hunger because of skipping lunch were compensated with the discussion which I found pretty clear, engaging and giving my self more beliefs with Indonesia’s future. He mentioned that Indonesia are now focusing the higher education sector to three development priorities in the future. Those are engineering, science and agriculture. Of total university people, engineering, science and agriculture only account for around 11%, 3.3% and 3.6% respectively (correct me the number if I’m wrong). While not intending to underrate other sector – business, politic, law and other social science – our national education budget will be mainly used to foster the three sectors.
He also proudly said on Indonesia geographical and demographical’s education complexity as something more developed economies regarded as of potential value. As gross participation number (angka partisipasi kasar – APK) gradually increases, so does the spending of national education budget. Increasingly, they target to boost the budget spending to Rp 1,000 trillion, 4 times of current spending on education. Since Indonesia’s education spending is set to 20% of total national budget, it means total national budget is also bigger. Something which is not caught to my eye. It is great to know that our nation, at least our minister, seriously plans seed for young generation to stand up for brighter future. However, continuous and serious monitoring on where the money flows and used is also worth of consideration. As the minister said, what happen to the fund is not actually kept by center government, but distributed to local government in 33 provinces and further to more than 300 regencies all over Indonesia. Out of 240 trillion budgeted fund for Ministry of Education, about 150 trillion is distributed to them for further management. It is on these points careful government internal control and close monitoring must be placed. We understand how these little new kings are full of sophisticated conflict of interest needs to be overcome. Until that happen, we can not just rely on the accounting-based report.
I guess, it is time, in fact everyday, for us to set our mindset that Indonesia can not, and will not be overlooked anymore as a nation. We have everything we need to be a great nation. Sounds cliché, but with a relentless effort on eradicating corruption, building people capacity through education, and maintaining better management on our national asset, we can be the next china or india.