An audience of the US and Indonesian educators, government officials, and business people enthusiastically greeted education minister Nadiem Makarim on Tuesday, July 13, as he described his ambitious plans to “emancipate education” in Indonesia from the shackles of rote learning, memorization drills, and curriculum divorced from reality. His Merdeka Belajar program aims at nothing less than the transformation of learning in the country.
The founder of Go-Jek and one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Asia was the keynote speaker at AmCham Indonesia’s first Higher Education Summit, a two-day event to spur dialogue and open doors to greater investment by American universities in Indonesia.
Nadiem challenged American universities to be bold and enter the market, including by building satellite campuses in Indonesia. He said other countries, chiefly Australia and Singapore, are far more aggressive about opportunities here. The time is right, he said.
He also urged businesses to get involved in the ministry’s Kampus Merdeka program, which promotes micro-credentialing and allows students to earn university credit through partnerships with companies.
Throughout the event, co-sponsored by USAID, educators from the two countries exchanged views on regulations, opportunities, and approaches. Dozens of American universities attended including the University of Arizona, Colorado State University, the University of California, and the University of Michigan. Universitas Indonesia and Universitas Gajah Mada represented large government universities and offered a strong desire to partner with US campuses. Duke University also spoke on its experience building a campus in China. The Association of US Alumni (Alumnas) spoke on the appeal of a US education.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati offered keynote remarks on Day Two and shared her vision for expanded scholarship opportunities through the ministry’s LPDP program. Sri Mulyani and Nadiem, both US graduates, each said education reform and opening up to the outside world is vital for the county’s future.
Another highlight was the presentation by Andrew MacIntyre, the head of Monash University Indonesia, on his experience setting up the first foreign-owned university in the country. Australia’s Monash will begin classes this year in Serpong.
“For AmCham, this summit represents a major new outreach into higher education,” said AmCham Managing Director A Lin Neumann. “For years, our companies have said the education system in Indonesia is lagging behind the needs of industry. Now there is a real chance for change and we want to help.”
AmCham also issued a special report on higher education for the summit. Indonesia’s Path to Higher Education Reform is available here on the AmCham website.
The Summit was made possible by the support of our sponsors: Air Products, Cargill, Chevron, HP, and the Sampoerna Foundation.