Education, Democracy, Indonesia, and its unavoidable doom

Education, is undoubtedly one of the most important determinant of the future, especially for a country. An educated society means a better social and political awareness, a more creative and divergent way of thinking, and higher cultural tolerance. This of course, is also true in the case of Indonesia, a country that is poised to be the future economic powerhouse and feared by a lot of countries for it’s promising potential, economically. I am still unsure why the Indonesian educator, politicians, and supposedly “smarter people” are still being optimistic looking at this prediction when( although it is encouraging) it’s only one measly little field after all. A country does not become great just because of its economical performance. Its engineering side, arts, and education are of course equally as important, and i don’t see them improving in the next 30 years or so for Indonesia. At least not until these “smart society” ,not only those in the industry,  realize that there are these sorts of problems.

While i am not an expert in any of the field, i encounter a lot of arrogantly educated people while i am studying here. So at least i can comment about it. Now i hope i don’t offend anybody while i am writing this and nor do i want to offend anybody. So please save your insult somewhere else and bare with me for the rest of the article.

The problem for me is simply because first we have different opinion (which is totally fine) and second because of our different rationale. And as a proud member of a democratic party (as most of you are, even sometimes rather too much) i am sure you all can value my opinion.

First of all, and probably the only of all, i sense that a lot of people who are doing a Phd or master degree here, assume that a higher education is the one and only way to get a better logic, or answers rather. Higher education means smarter people means better country. That is the rationale that i am sort of getting from most of the people doing their graduate degree here. Well problem is, for me, it isn’t.

Of course knowing more about something wouldn’t hurt, but sadly in most cases, higher degree doesn’t goes along with open mindedness and divergent thinking. This is quite normal of course, as you can always see a physicist argue with biologist, an argument between experts will only mean that the two extremes are working together to find something that are useful for a greater scope in the society. This means that to find a cure for cancer, there are experts that can think of the manufacturing, different experts for the creation of the cure, and someone with a commerce degree to take all of the money away. Sir Ken Robinson once said that divergent thinking does not only mean that we think differently and creatively but also to be open to new possibilities and to be ready to make compromises to new ideas that sometimes does not necessarily adhere to the mainstream understanding.

Sadly, in Indonesia that is not the case. An expert in politics and public policy get the chance to have a say. And that’s about it. The problem becomes even more complicated when a government agents has a better chance in getting a scholarship than the private member of the society. Of course this make sense for other countries and even from our own perspectives, but problem is, it means nothing when by the time they got home, they still have no say anyway because of their boss is the one who gets “elected” and is in charge.

Of course the quantity do win over quality in this case, when there are more educated people, there are more power to the people, and hence this groups of rats has less and less power.Thing is, most people automatically think that by getting a Phd or a master degree, they are doing their part in empowering the people. Again i have to say, they are not.

Most of these people were brought up with a learning habit of logic of ultimate truth. There are 9 planets in the galaxy, the value of g is always 9.8 and so on and so forth. Problem is, even in the world of professional science, the truth is malleable. And sadly, most of the Indonesian back home and even some that are studying here still doesn’t quite understand that.

As a result, they feel that what they’ve learnt are the answer to a better Indonesia, only that, and forgot to ask about compatibility, cultural effects, resistance, and other things that might happen as a result of the implementation of those theory.

then what is the solution then ? if being smart is not the way, then what ?

well being smart is the way. But being smart is not the same as knowing stuff or being an expert on a certain ways of doing stuff.

For me, being smart means knowing how to think critically and how to find solution to a problem without needing to know about a certain theory and remember it like the back of their hand. Being smart means knowing what to research, how to do it, criticizing an idea, and determining the worthiness of a certain idea, claim, or notion.

If people can do that, i don’t think that in the end we need a tertiary degree. Of course it will still be more than useful. But at the end not all people need to go through the same stuff just so they have the same understanding and role in democracy. Democracy is about consensus and compromise, and it is hard to achieve consensus without the ability of being both critical and open to new ideas.

Knowledge can be easily found, but attitude is a learning process.

If this critical and open attitude is being familiarized since the earliest level, people won’t need to go through same process until tertiary level to achieve a same status quo in a democratic nation. Because they are able to evaluate ideas, criticizing it, and also accepting it.

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