One day we had an opportunity to take our interns to lunch. 11 of them. We love our interns. We call them 'the kids'. Some even call them 'our kids' (Yes folks, most of us are THAT old). Our interns remind us how great it is to be young: Full of energy, the future is right ahead of you, and you think you can do and achieve anything and everything. They are after all a glimpse of our country's future.
And a good sample for our silly little survey:
During lunch, we asked them this question:
"Which one of you think Indonesia will be a better country 10 years from now ?"
Nine of them raised their hands. The other two shook their heads, citing corruptions as the culprit.
So the majority of them are optimistic. That's great.
So we went ahead and gave them this one piece of information:
"Do you know that according tho UNESCO, Indonesia's government spent THE LEAST money on primary education compared to ANY OTHER COUNTRY in the world?"
(Indonesia spent 3% of per capita national income annually per primary student. The region's median is 15%. North America and Western Europe spend 22%) 
We showed the kids the chart below (click image for bigger picture) and let them digest it.
Then we asked again:
"Now, which one of you think Indonesia will be a better country 10 years from now ?"
No hands this time around. Some even had problem swallowing the lunch.
You see folks, our kids got it: Education is the future. If we invest too little in it, there will be no future.
Our kids know it. We know it, you know it. We all know it. We all get it.
Ask anyone you meet on the street and they all get it too.
Isn't it funny that when we combine us all as a country, we suddenly just don't get it?
"It's the government's fault, not ours", said one of our kids.
Yes, but it's OUR government. We elected them. So in the end it's our fault. Is it not? We, the people, must know what we want and know how to demand it.
"Which one of you voted in the last election?" we asked. All of them did.
"Good. When you were at the voting booth, which one of you voted for the one (either an individual or a party) that you think will do a good job in education?"
"Ok, it does not have to be education. It could be the economy, environment, women's right, anything. Which one of you voted based on the views on one of these issues?"
Oh dear. And these are the well-off university-educated bunch of kids. The patriotic, optimistic, idealistic kids: And they voted without even consider these things? What were they thinking?
Or maybe they are not as patriotic, optimistic, idealistic as they want us to think.
So allow us to ask you, our dear fellow Indonesians: which one of you think Indonesia will be better off 10 years from now ?
 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, December 2007, No. 06
. (PDF file, 9.52MB)
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