Mon, 15 Aug 1994

Govt must boost political education

JAKARTA (JP): The government's current drive to promote human resource development should go beyond simply improving people's skills and cover also their political awareness, intellectuals say.

Speakers at a seminar on human resource development spoke on Saturday of the urgent need for Indonesia to further encourage political participation in national development.

Sabam Sirait, a member of the House of Representatives for the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), said the political parties should provide systematic political education to their cadres and supporters.

The seminar was the first joint effort by four religious-based intellectual associations -- ICMI (Moslems), PIKI (Christians), FCHI (Hindus) and KCBI (Buddhists).

The associations pooled their resources to counter allegations that their increasingly high profile activities are fostering the revival of sectarian politics.

Attended by some 200 people, the seminar was opened by President Soeharto on Thursday and closed on Saturday night by Vice President Try Sutrisno -- signaling that the government has no qualms about taking an active role in the process.

Human resource development is one of the chief objectives of the government's Sixth Five-Year Plan which began in April. Talks on the subject however have focused on the need to create a more industrious society through reforming the education and manpower sectors.

Sabam said that political education should be conducted in a more transparent manner and accessible to all people. "Such education has been the privilege of a few senior government officials, and middle- and upper-class people."

Amir Santoso, a staff lecturer at the School of Social and Political Science of the University of Indonesia, said political education is important in creating a more democratic political system in Indonesia. "Democracy cannot be created in a non- democratic society. Political education is important in introducing the people to democratic thinking methods and attitudes," he said.

Amir said the educational system itself needs to be made more democratic.

"Many parents are still bound by the authoritarian approach in raising their children," he said. "The majority of teachers and lecturers are educating their students in a non-democratic way," he said, stressing that this in turn is creating a new authoritarian generation.

Former minister of home affairs Rudini, also hammered home the need to encourage greater public participation in politics and development as part of the program to promote human resource development.

Rudini said the political system and the laws supporting it can be reviewed if needed to ensure this greater public participation. (rms)