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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

The Concept of Value in Education

In my opinion, value is a special message embedded in education. It may consciously or unconsciously transferred from those who are in power to students or those who have less power. As education is not an isolated function (Mittler, 2000), value in education reflects the condition of society.

The history of education and its value in Indonesia may be as far back as Netherland’s colonialism. At that time, education, which only accessible for upper class people, promoted western concepts and way of life. National value was socialised to be negative in order to strengthen Dutch’s power. Around the time of Indonesian independence, an Indonesian educator, Ki Hajar Dewantara, established an education system which was called ‘freedom system’ because its value was independence; ability to be obedient but autonomous (Takwin, 2010). It reflects the high level of nationalism because at that time Indonesia was pursuing and maintaining its independence. In the late 1960s, the system was substituted by a curriculum that stresses on conformity. Governed by an authoritarian leader, differences were seen as inappropriate; and people’s freedom was once again robbed, now by their own nation kin.

Since Indonesian reformation in 1998, educational environment has been unstable. People’s regained freedom creates new and various values that people want to attach to education. However those values are defeated by the largest problem faced by Indonesia, economy. According to Indonesian vice president, Boediono (2012), education is a strategic sector used to prepare future workers in getting their skills in science and technology. The statement implies that education is a mean to get skills and diplomas in order to get good jobs which ends in good payment and higher tax income to increase national economic power. Despite the government’s need of educated people, politicians inside the government devalue people who have higher education degree. It is shown by some politician’s statement that people who study abroad are thieves (Febriyan, 2012) and that people who graduated from high-rank national university are corruptors (Andhika, 2012). Government’s treatment towards people with higher education degree creates confusion about how the government values education.

Tracing back to the history of Indonesian education, I think most education systems, except the freedom system, has brought values that devalue students as human beings by using them to fulfill the needs of those who have power. Indonesian perspective about education is almost the same as what Freire (1996) called as “banking concept of education” or what Lipman (2009) called as “economizing of education” which sees men as objects. In my opinion, education should not be used as a ‘machine’ to give more power to powerful people; it should be used as a strategy to distribute the power in order to empower all people. The value of education should be attempted to humanize human; regarding people not as objects of civilization system but actors who transform the civilization.

Mar 07, 2013