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Indonesia Education

May 2 celebrated as national educational day in Indonesia. We call it HARDIKNAS (Hari Pendidikan Nasional). I don’t get used to write something for a particular national day like this. National day or even a birthday is a common day to me. There’s nothing special about it. For government official, national day is a big day for various reasons which is nothing to do with remembrance or self-reflection:

1. It’s a day when they don’t need to go to office for work.
2. It’s a day when they will set up a ‘committee’ to make a flag and speech ceremony and for that they can spend a little office money

Flag ceremony followed with a patriotic speech by the most senior official in a particular office regarded as a sacred ritual. Anyone who don’t join this brouhaha will be considered unpatriotic. Indonesian ambassador to India Mr. Donillo Anwar got angry when no students were coming in the flag ceremony in Hari Sumpah Pemuda (Youth Day) last year; and if some rumors to be believed, that’s the reason why KBRI New Delhi halt the financial assistance to pay Indonesian student headquarter’s rent.

I don’t condone ourselves (Indonesian students) for not attending or coming late in any national day ceremony. But emphasizing the importance of a national day with a ceremony is not a smart move either on the part of Indonesian officials.

For me national day is important. No doubt about that. But there’s certainly a very different perspective on how we –young generation and the elder ones– look into it. We think, and I think, national day is good day for (a) a reflection, free-of-charge reflection. Flag and speech ceremony is ok but it should be free, no money should be spent, and for (b) making a better policy on the part of government in accordance with national day we are celebrating.

Educational day like today (May 2) for example, should be used (by the policy makers) to make a better and cheaper education; cheaper books; cheaper newspapers and magazines (not the pornographic ones though).

Indonesia education is just getting more expensive by the day which means only the middle class people will get access to it. How about the havenots, the majority of Indonesian youth? How about the poor youth? Where their dream are heading?

When majority of Indonesian youth got no access to higher education and growing up as an uneducated adults what we expect from future Indonesia? This is what should be in the mind of our policy makers i.e. the educational minister and President SBY today instead of delivering a patriotic hollow speech, a traditon inherited from Suharto’s era.

Cartoon Better than Mom?

This is a small study yet a little bit discouraging and should be a warning for mothers around the world: TV can overcome pain better than mothers do. Researchers in Italy found that cartoons helped distract kids from the pain of minor medical procedures.

In the small study, Bellieni and colleagues randomly placed 69 children, ages 7 to 12, in one of three groups to have a blood sample taken. One group was given no distraction during the procedure. In the second group, mothers tried to distract their children by talking to them, soothing, and/or caressing them. The third group of children was allowed to watch a TV cartoon during the procedure. See more here.

The children who experienced the most pain were in the group with no distraction. Their pain was about three times higher than the children who watched TV cartoons, the researchers noted.

The Study was published online Aug. 16 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Child’s upbringing is unrewarding job for many moms, either from the ‘ungrateful’ kids or from careless husband. This is not to count any other house-wife job. Wife and mom’s jobs are never done, so to speak.

Therefore, to hear such not-so-good news should be a little bit discouraging for them to say the least. In the meanwhile, it’s also a very positive finding for moms to know what’s wrong with the way they treat their kids. Or is this finding a strong sign how powerful TV program, especially cartoon, is to the extend that moms can no longer ignore its influence? There is an ongoing interesting discussion among mothers here on this issue which many young mothers need to look at.

It’s important to note, however, that the study was conducted in Italy, a European country. To some extend, it might represent other western Europe or any other developed countries with similar culture, custom and way of life with its prevalent phenomena: busy parents, etc. It might not represent a phenomenon in any other country with entirely different tradition. Say, for example, Indonesia where some kids got religious education in their very early days of their lives. Interesting to know if there’s another similar study on how religious upbringing can make a difference to the kids in overcoming their pains.

For any young Indonesian mother, like Lita and others including young fathers, could you please share your experience with us?

Authority in Blog and Media

In order to be able to write an op-ed article and get published in print media, you gotta have a sort of authority in the field you are writing on. The authority, however, won’t guarantee your piece to appear in the intended newspaper, there’re some other things which the editors will take into consideration to publish you piece including the paper “policy” on certain issues.

This particular media “policy” makes some op-ed columnists/writers force to adjust whenever they write an op-ed piece to a particular newspaper. A piece intended to be sent to KOMPAS, for example, should be a bit different – in style, angle analysis, etc – against a piece intended to be sent to REPUBLIKA, Media Indonesia, etc. In short, you need to watch and look into every style of any particular newspapers before you send your own. In short, it’s the writers who should adjust to the print media policy; not the other way round. In other words, an op-ed writer obliged to be more pragmatic in expressing their opinions in order to be published.

And that’s one of the reasons, an idealist intellectual like Yudi Latief, as he told me the other day, prefers to write a book instead of an op-ed piece unless and until a particular media requests him to do so which means in this case it’s he, not the editors, who set the term, style and angle analysis of the article. This ideals approach of a few intellectuals finally cost them their popularity: how many people read their books or their piece in international journal/publication, anyway? At the same time, Indonesian people needs to be enlightened by their good piece of writings in the form of op-ed piece, the most accessible medium to the mass.

Fortunately now we have in front of us a new technology called blog. Here, we can enjoy writing what we like to write. Everybody is editor. Blog is certainly the most effective tools for every citizen: the intellectuals, the writers, the laymen, anyone who has access to the internet.

And in the blog everybody has the “authority.” The editors, if there should be any, are the readers. The judgement from the readers count. And that what makes a blog interesting and that’s why I urge everybody, including Indonesian intellectuals, to blog to express everything they simply can’t do in a conventional media. It’s ok to me to blog in Bahasa Indonesia, yet if you have a bit mastery in English, why should shy away from doing it?

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