The early 2000’s is momentous to Indonesia because since that period Indonesia has started adopting the notion of globalization and globalizing world. The liberalization in many aspects of life is evident to the proposition. Besides liberalization, modernization is however inevitable occuring in Indonesia. Education, especially higher education in Indonesia is one of aspects in which globalization, liberalization, and modernization have affected. The ratification of education as one sector to trade in GATT in 2005 has proved Indonesia’s commitment to strongly uphold globalization.
Regardless to the trading practice of education in Indonesia, for instance by giving permission to foreign education institutions to build its satellite campus or opening a chance for them to offer online program to Indonesia students, substantially Indonesia’s education has been changing in terms of its ideal and spirit. Education which in my view, I believe that it is the very grave of Indonesian character building, is recently changing towards the global ideal of education. Indonesia’s education more or less is attracted to legitimate global (read: Western) education ideal with its core values as something good or even best.
The spark of International standardized high schools (read: Sekolah Berstandar Internasional) and the emergence of the world-class university target among universities in Indonesia lately can be the basis to justify the premise. They all compete to achieve their ideal target of education. Consciously or unconsciously, what they pursue is an idea coming from the West. It harmonically works with the modernization premise of idealizing West and making it as the target to achieve by many peripheral or developing countries, including Indonesia.
In the campus life, as the lecturers give the student overwhelming assignment of writing paper, they oftentimes provide West thinkers, writers, and authors in the reading list to be referred. Local thinkers, writers, and authors are sometimes regarded to be less credible to cite. I personally have experienced it. Aside than that, education programs which uniquely offer students opportunity to experience Western-ish (for example in the used language in class, materials, or the presence of foreign lecturers) are always more expensive than the Indonesia-ish regular programs.West has been central as well as success criteria to the application of education model in Indonesia. From the aforementioned evidence, we may also conclude that Indonesians are assigning superiority to the West. I particularly believe that it has been neutralized in the people of Indonesia’s mind.
Having said that, we may now refer to the renowned piece of thinking of Antonio Gramsci of hegemony. Gramsci stated that the ruling class (read: Western countries) besides practicing domination through coercive power, they do the establishment of legitimacy of the ruling class through the development of shared ideas, values, beliefs, and meanings—i.e. shared culture (1971). Furthermore, Eric Louw (2005) believes that education institution (i.e. schools and universities) and its intellectuals is one tool of the ruling class to manufacture consent to keep power and sovereignty in hand, besides media and public relations activities. The intellectuals are constantly disseminating the ruling class’ version of the rightful worldview to keep the ruling class powerful. Such intellectuals are what Gramscian called ‘traditional intellectuals’ (see Barker, 2000, p. 370).
What those academicians said is the actual reality in Indonesia. Indonesia’s education institutions have been ‘hegemonized’ by the Western education model. Perceiving Western model of education to be superior than the others as a nowadays’ common sense is evident.
You may now question, what is so wrong of holding such view? As I mentioned above, education is one primary source of socialization of becoming a ‘person’. Hence, Indonesia education should manage the being educated students to be Indonesian with its values, beliefs, and spirits. When such Indonesian values, beliefs, and spirits are ‘subordinated’ in Indonesia education system and being replaced by Western values, we are alarmed to ask ourselves of our Indonesianity. The spirit of tolerance, togetherness, kindness, and other Indonesian characters is evident to slowly get swept. No wonder, recently Indonesians are increasingly becoming individual-prioritizing, emotional, and corrupt. We all know that Western people are taught to compete and absolutely win every competitions.
The growing spirit of competition is actually good when we do not have to harm other people, as Indonesians’ belief of togetherness. What I am trying to say, globalization and globalizing world are however inevitable. Western values are then hugely penetrating all countries throughout the globe. Becoming passive consumer of such values is an evidence of losing globally occurred competition. We need to balance the Western perspectives with the local ones. Do not ever let one dominates another. Robertson’s (2000) notion of glocalization should be adapted to overcome such problem. Enhancing local insights by equally learning foreign perspective is required to keep our authentic values and beliefs (or culture) living in ourselves. (*)