I initially wanted to submit this essay, which was originally written in Indonesian, to a writing contest. But, because of technicalities, I missed the deadline. Oh, well.
When one talks about the quality of human resources, education is often the first thing that comes to our minds.
It is true that education is the biggest factor. Quality education equals quality human resources. But, what do we mean by quality education?
We all agree discipline is crucial in our learning experiences and, as a nation, we are from disciplined. It would be bizarre to dispute that.
But, what I am going to say will be contentious. I am not sure if many of you will agree with me.
If I say we need to respect those who are more knowledgeable and more experienced than us, you would nod in agreement. But, the problems is many still believe ‘respect’ and ‘worship’ are synonymous with each other.
We love to make Gods out of those people, forgetting they are also ordinary human beings who are prone to any faults. They can make mistakes in their ways of thinking. They may also have ulterior motives and intentionally deceive others for their own benefits.
But, at the same time, we also have the guts to accuse the experts of being know-it-alls. We look down on knowledge and critical thinking. We are proud of our own ignorance and stupidity.
To overcome this issue, we have to teach the incoming generations to think more critically and to be more analytical. Moreover, we have to instill the sense of curiosity, humility and courage to resist falsehood, especially the one regurgitated by people of higher social standings.
If this suggestion is implemented, I am willing to bet the incoming generations would not only possess brilliant minds, but also would not want to trample and be easily trampled on by other people.
I also have another suggestion, a more abstract one: teaching them about the nation’s traditional cultures.
Obviously, many will agree with me. I am definitely not the first Indonesian citizen who yearn about conserving our cultural heritages. But, you must be wondering: what does this have anything to do with human resources?
If a country preserves its traditional culture, it would have a unique identity. If it is blessed with rich cultural diversity, the distinctiveness would be even more striking. If a country has a unique identity, it would be able to create works which are very unlikely to be created elsewhere. In the end, it would stand out on the international stage.
Even if you are an Indonesian who has been culturally westernised and who perceives traditions as backward entities, you would still be benefited by knowing your ancestral heritage.
Besides learning about the history of your ancestors, you would also learn about the life philosophy they held on to. As a result, you would encounter perspectives that you have never considered before. Ideally, you would expand your horizon… and, when combined with good reasoning, you would have easier time generating groundbreaking ideas.
Of course, you could have refuted my suggestion by stating that my dream can be fulfilled without studying Indonesian cultures. But, as I stated before, uniqueness is key.
Western cultures are already emulated all over the world. If you fix your gaze solely towards the west, your ideas would not be different from the ones initiated by foreigners. If the works of Indonesians are similar to the foreign ones, why should other countries make use of Indonesian human resources?
Yes, Indonesians with sufficient skills can still get hired by foreigners. But, if we are only good in professions in which our duty is to simply obey our bosses and/our clients, we would only excel behind the scenes.
Obviously, those behind-the-scenes jobs are also crucial to our lives which we all reap benefits from. Maybe you are already satisfied by our fellow countrymen’s behind-the-scenes success. But, I am not.
As important as those professions are, they can be done by every country on earth. Meanwhile, the ones in which we become the stars on the international stages have been proven difficult to attain. Very few countries have achieved high level of innovation and creativity.
The more we raise Indonesians who are capable of producing ingenious ideas, the easier it would be for us to be take centre stage internationally…
…and, once that is achieved, we as a nation would have successfully used all of our might to achieve a level of triumph which most countries on earth have yet to obtain.
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