Thu, 11 Aug 1994

24 finalists named in youth research contest

JAKARTA (JP): Twenty-four students from 13 provinces have been selected for the final round of the Research Contest for Youths organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The finalists, 14 from senior and 10 from junior high schools, presented their work yesterday and today to a panel of 12 jurists chaired by Andi Hakim Nasution of the Bogor Agricultural Institute IPB.

The 24 finalists, including 16 girls, were chosen from over 1,000 applicants from all 27 provinces.

Nasution said he saw a new trend whereby young women outperform young men academically, especially in big cities. "Maybe because young men here face more distractions than young women," he said, adding that girls now also have more opportunities to develop themselves.

The situation is the complete opposite of what he saw in the United States where girls face more distractions than boys. "If a girl there does not have a date in two weeks, her mother will worry," he said.

The jurists themselves are dominated by men -- only one of them, sociologist Astrid S. Susanto, is a woman -- because they are "products of the older era," Nasution said.

The 12 jurists have selected the winners every year since the contest was launched 18 years ago.

The contest does not discriminate against participants' age or grades in school or in the field of research chosen. The winner, to be announced on Monday, will be entitled to the top prize of Rp 1.5 million (US$690).

The jurists emphasize originality and this was reflected in yesterday's presentation.

Fatmawati, 15, from Kediri, East Java, researched how the eruption of Mt. Kelud changed the livelihood of local people from being rice farmers to becoming fishermen.

She found that the volcano's lava flowed down to cause a nearby river overflow to permanently flood paddy fields, and therefore forced farmers to switch to the new profession.

Rosmaidar, 15, who hopes to become a physician, examined the fallacies in the use of Bahasa Indonesia on billboards displayed in her hometown of Lubuk Alung in West Sumatra.

Other topics include the potential use of tree bark to treat malaria patients, the social and economic impact of people going to work in Malaysia on the villagers of Lajut Praya in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, and the influence of English language films on students' understanding of the language. (smb)