Tue, 26 Sep 2000

Government told to pay more attention to IT development

JAKARTA (JP): The government's lack of vision and attention to Information Technology (IT) was contributing to the country's poor human resources, an observer said on Monday.

"It's shameful that IT has not got its own department. It seems that Indonesia is not aware of the digital world.

"It's coming in and we cannot avoid it," said Heru Nugroho of the Indonesian Internet Service Provider Association (APJII).

IT is now integrated into the posts and telecommunications unit of the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications, Heru said.

"Most schools and universities here are lagging far behind in the use of IT and the Internet. These students are the ones who have to face fierce global competition 10 to 20 years from now.

"How will it be if they don't even know anything about online systems or the Internet?" he said.

He said there must be a drastic change in the teachers and parents' understanding of IT as many thought that things like the Internet were very exclusive and expensive.

"Imagine, out of the 210 million people in the country, only some 1.5 million have become (Internet) users.

"Currently, there are 107 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and dozens of dotcom companies. We want to introduce the use of the Internet, especially for students," he said.

Recent reports said that by 2010, the country would need 350,000 IT professionals, but human resources were limited, he said.

It has turned out that the biggest obstacle to the Internet is the resistance of teachers.

"Once, we went to a school and there was a question on whether the Internet was haram (forbidden) or halal (permitted) ... Gosh, the information gap is so wide that we have to explain it bit by bit," Heru said, adding that the were some 10,000 pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) in the country and that many of them were anxious to use the Internet.

In some cases, teachers tended to reject the presence of the Internet for many reasons, one of which was their fear of being outsmarted by the students, since many of them, for instance, did not know how to turn on a computer, he said.

The reluctance to accept and learn new things and being afraid of trying are the basic barriers to the development of the Internet here.

In an effort to cope with the problem, the association, along with its program called Sekolah 2000 (School 2000), will simultaneously hold a national symposium in eight major cities on Oct. 28 in commemoration of the 72nd Youth Pledge Day.

Thousands of junior and senior high school students, along with their teachers and principles from eight cities, including Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Makassar, Pontianak, Palangkaraya and Palembang, will together launch a declaration of "Indonesian Youth Facing the Globalization Era".

"The declaration as well as the live Internet show will be broadcast via the Internet," Muhammad Lutfi of private SMK Jayawisata 2 high school, deputy chairman of the event organizing committee, said.

The event in Palangkaraya is slated to be officiated by Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri as the city will host the National Youth Pledge Day commemoration.

In Jakarta, the event will be held at Mal Ambasador in Kuningan, South Jakarta, featuring educator Arief Rachman, IT experts Ono W. Purbo and Budi Rahardjo and Muslim scholar Nurcholish Madjid.

Information on education and scholarships, e-commerce as well as the launching of Pesantren-Net will be presented at the event. The Sekolah 2000 program, which caters to 800 schools from around the country and provides detailed information about education, can be accessed at www.sekolah2000.co.id. (edt)