Editorial: A Quality Economy Needs Quality People
President Joko Widodo has set out his goal of transforming Indonesia from a consumption-driven economy to production-based one. This is a right and noble goal that everyone must support. It’s long overdue because for far too long we have wallowed in complacency, allowing our creativity and productivity to die.
Since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, Indonesia’s economic growth has relied on consumption. But soon this consumption-driven growth model will no longer be adequate to support sustained economic growth.
In the mean time, the government has given little thought to investing in productive assets and human capital.
While consuming is fine, over-consumption makes us too dependent on other nations. No country can survive without a high level of productivity.
Besides the daunting lack of infrastructure that the country faces, a major challenge accosting the nation is its need for sufficient and skilled human resources to allow it to shift to a production-driven economy. Joko understands this, hence his pledge to invest in human capital. But it won’t be easy.
Indonesia’s best universities fall outside the top 300 worldwide, and the nation’s primary and secondary students rank among the worst in the world, according to most tests.
The curriculum is underdeveloped, and holds back students because it does not encourage critical or analytical thinking. Beside lacking in number — there are only nine million teachers serving a population of 250 million — the nation’s teachers are generally also low-skilled, unable to adapt to the progress and changes being made in the world.
If Indonesia is to have a productive population, then we urgently need to invest heavily in education. Until then, productivity remains a dream.
Source: The Jakarta Globe