President SBY Opens Five State Universities in Border Areas

The government will provide education for every Indonesian and develop centers of quality education throughout the country.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono inaugurated five state universities in several border areas on Monday.

The launch was held at the auditorium of the Cenderawasih University in Jayapura, Papua. “We are opening these five state institutions to improve the country’s education,” said Yudhoyono, who also opened the national meeting of Student Executive Boards from universities across the nation.

The five institutions are Musamus University in Merauke, Papua, Borneo University in Tarakan, East Kalimantan, Bangka Belitung University in Bangka Belitung, the State Polytechnic Institute in Bangka Belitung and the State Polytechnic Institute in Batam.

Yudhoyono said the government would ensure that every Indonesian had access to quality education.

“We will help low-income people to gain an education. And we will even fund tuition fees for the poorest. We should not allow the younger generation in this country to fail to receive quality education,” he said.

A country’s ability to advance depends on its education, he said.

After struggling for 50 years as a developing country, South Korea developed into one of the most affluent economies in the world by improving the country’s education, Yudhoyono cited an example.

The government, he said, should be able to provide education for every Indonesian and develop centers of quality education throughout the country.

Since 2007, Yudhoyono said, the government had mandated five development targets for Papua, comprising poverty reduction, education and health improvement, infrastructure development and affirmative action for Papuans involvement in development activities.

Meanwhile, educational practitioner Anis Baswedan said Monday that Indonesian education was concentrated in Java.

“The government should better distribute educational institutions in provinces outside Java, by allowing the private sector to take part in the development of educational institutions,” he said, adding that mobilizing the private sector to invest in higher education had become critical in developing countries, including Indonesia, where many governments were strapped for cash. “The opening of the universities is one positive step taken by the government to improve the country’s education,” he said.

However, he continued, the government could accelerate advancing education by providing wider opportunities for private sectors to invest more in higher education. “This was not easy,” said Anis, also rector of Paramadina University.

He said many private institutions and foundations were unable to invest in higher education due to difficulties in acquiring land needed for education infrastructure development. Citing a research study, Anis said almost 50 percent of Indonesia’s middle class was from low-income families, due to low-cost education from by Soeharto’s regime.

“But now, how can we achieve success with the soaring costs to attend quality schools, which poses heavy concerns on elitism in our education?” he said.

Source: the Jakarta Post

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