SPEECH BY DR. SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO UPON RECEIVING DOCTOR HONORIS CAUSA FROM SOKA UNIVERSITY, JAPAN, JAKARTA, 14 OCTOBER 2014
Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
May peace be upon us all.
Prof. Boediono, Vice President of Republic of Indonesia.
Prof. Yoshihisa Baba, the Rector of Soka Univer-sity,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First and foremost, I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to you to Indonesia, Mr. Baba. I do hope your brief visit to Jakartathe capital city of this vast archipelagoon this beautiful day, will leave you with memorable experiences.
You are here at a time when Indonesia is in the midst of historic transition. And actually, this is my last week of five hundred and forty weeks being the sixth President of Indonesia.
Times flies when you have a good time as the saying goes. Especially, when you fill your days with streams of activities. I am pleased that toward the end of my term in office, I receive Doctor Honoris Causa from such a prestigious Soka University in Japan. Therefore, I wish to thank you for honouring me with the Doctor Honoris Causa in Education and Culture.
I feel humbled by this honorary degree that was bestowed upon me in recognition of our hard work to improving the state of education and promoting our culture.
As Indonesia strives to achieve a century of independence in 2045, our vision of a strong demo-cracy; of a just and equitable economy and of a more advanced civilization; cannot be realized without advances in education and culture. Education and culture are the pillars of our progress.
From the start of my administration, education has been my top priority. Indonesia has one of the worlds largest school system with more than fifty million population of students. I am pleased that during my administration, we have finally been able to reach the constitutionally mandated twenty percent of our national budget allocated for education. And along with our economic growth, our education budget also kept growing every year.
Over the years, Indonesia has implemented nine years of compulsory education since 1989. We are now aiming at a universal target of 12 years of education until senior high school degree.
There is one particular reason why education is my top priority: education is the most effective way to fight poverty. One of the most profound problems faced by less fortunate Indonesians has always been their lack of finance to pursue higher education. In other words, they are less likely to continue to university.
Ensuring access for the underprivileged to education, especially higher education, changes their predicament. With a university degree, he or she would see more opportunities in life. And with university degrees, the once less fortunate children can change their family fortune for the better.
Thus, my government has been very active in promoting a program called BIDIK MISI which gives free tuitions, plus allowance to students from poor families. So far, one hundred and ninety thousand students have enjoyed this BIDIK MISI Program.
We have also ensured that children from the most remote part of Indonesias seventeen thousand islands have access to the countrys best universities. And to ensure access to education, we do not stop at BIDIK MISI program only.
We have also provided special funds for schools throughout Indonesia that they can use to improve education facilities as they see fit.
This is all done to ensure equal opportunity and better access to good education. I believe, the more we can do this, the more we can change lives for our citizens throughout Indonesia.
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
Apart from education, culture has also been key in our national development. I know for sure that you are very much aware that Indonesia is the most ethnically diverse country in the world. There is no particular ethnic group that dominates.
Indonesias national survival and unity can only progress in an environment where all ethnic groups are able to rise togetherwhere diversity is celebrated, and pluralism is embraced by all.
There is a saying that a country is strong if its military is strong. Being a former General, I would not disagree with that. But, I also believe that a country is strong if it has a strong culture.
Strong culture means a strong sense of common values, tradition, and way of life.
In Indonesia, protecting our culture is as important as protecting our environmentit is all part of our national identity. And protecting our culture does not come by chance alone, and not by government alone.
It must be done systematically and with all the related institutionsfrom government, civil society, family and down to individual. We have to create conditions that maintain the importance of our culture to our people because culture lives in the hearts of our citizens.
In Bali, for example, we have hundreds of designated cultural villages or desa adat. These villages are tasked strictly to preserve and promote the Balinese culture.
I have also found out that there is a rich treasure of local wisdom throughout all the ethnic groups of Indonesia. Local wisdom is knowledge and experience which have been passed from one generation to another.
It is still relevant todayin what we often refer to as globalization era. And I believe, as the society modernize, they can still draw upon this local wisdom to solve many of their problems.
Take the local wisdom from Aceh, for example. During tsunami in 2004, people at Simelue island in Aceh have learned a simple lesson from their grandparents: If earthquake comes, we must go and see the beach. If we see low tide, we must run to the hills. They knew the tsunami or smong in local language, would arrive. When a big earthquake actually came in the morning of 26 December 2004, and the sea water receded, they immediately ran to the hills.
They were saved. Around eighty thou-sand people survived.
I have also found local wisdom as a valuable tool for conflict resolution in Indonesia. In the conflicts in Papua, Poso, Maluku, Ambon, we tried to ease tension and improved the political situation by knowing better the distinctive way the local population see themselves and their opponents. We also engaged local leaders who had moral and political authority over their followers. These approaches prove more effective in resolving the conflicts.
This is why I believe that as we grappled with a series of global issuesfrom climate change to ethnic conflicts to extremismwe must rely more and more on cultural approach and local solution.
Cultural approach is the key to winning the hearts and minds of the people on the ground. Once we can unlock this key, the solution will be more fitting, and hence everlasting.
In a broader context, our support for global efforts to fight the impact of climate change is also rooted in our forefathers affection for nature. Living in harmony with the ocean, the forests, the sun, and mother earth have been always part of our heritage. Therefore, I would say that for Indo-nesians protecting the environment from the threat of climate change is a must.
On my part, I wrote songs as encouragement to my fellow countrymen to help preserve the environment and songs for the love of our beloved country. Indeed, my songs and poems are my ways to convey important message of life: about unity, brotherhood, solidarity, struggle, hope and faith.
Finally, I thank you once again for this honorary degree. And I thank you for your friendship and goodwill for Indonesia.
Please convey my best wishes and gratitude to the faculty and students of Soka University, and hopefully, someday, I will have the chance to visit your respectable University.
Wassalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
Jakarta, 14 October 2014
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA
DR. H. SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO