Educational Neurosis: ‘Kita’ and ‘Kami’ in the Context of Indonesian Education

Education in Indonesia as in many other countries is separated into two forms, public and private. Basically, public education should be accessible by all citizens. However in Indonesia most educational provisions, public or private, are not free. As a result, education, especially good education, can only be accessed by certain groups of people who have social or financial capital.

The condition of education in Indonesia creates a wide discrepancy between people who are in the position of power and those who are not. Most citizens should be satisfied with the basic public education which provides them with basic skill to be workers, servants of powerful people. Education as public goods does not have power to inspire people to contribute to the society. On the other hand, specific group of people who can access qualified education in private institution feel that they have no obligation for the society and use education to benefit themselves.

The division of education as public and private goods is related to two words used to describe sense of togetherness in Indonesian language, ‘kita’ and ‘kami’. The English translation of those words is ‘we’. Indeed, since a long time ago, Indonesian people have two perceptions of togetherness.

The word ‘kami’ is used when one wants to describe about you and I and other people who stand in the same group with implicit message of exclusion (Hassan, 2005). Those who do not belong to ‘kami’are excluded or seen as enemy. On the other hand, ‘kita’ is used when one wants to describe you and me and other people all together (Hassan, 2005). “Kita” embraces individuality while people walk together in one reality. Those words which describe about Indonesian people’s perception of togetherness were used by Indonesian scholar, Fuad Hassan, to understand more about neurosis. According to Hassan (2005), individual’s existential crisis which leads to neurosis is a result of his confused perception about his place in the society, how they perceive togetherness.

Applying ‘kita’ and ‘kami’ in education world brings an interesting point of view. In Indonesian education, the culture of ‘kita’ was once implemented. At the time near Indonesian independence, educational philosophy as the foundation of education practice emphasised people’s empowerment within society. Education as public goods can be translated genuinely by ‘kita’ culture. It promotes inclusion, respect individuality in order to achieve better living condition for all. As the time goes by, people have started to become ignorant of the terms they use in expressing togetherness because they use ‘kita’ and ‘kami’ interchangeably (Sarwono, 2012). What happens in the society reflects what happens in education. Indonesian education is in confusion. On one hand, it tries to include as many people but at the other hand it resists the inclusion of certain groups and creates barriers to learners. The government wants it to be public goods for the sake of its benefit but seems to be resistant to invest in education. People who have power can change education system and create any educational policy with self-focused intention. Education can be pulled around, changed to be private goods with the shell of public provision. I think maybe Indonesian education has lost its identity. It does not know its aim, future, and direction. As human who cannot decide his position in the society become neurotic; Indonesian education may be at the same state, the state of educational neurosis.

Mar 07, 2013


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