Being Literate to Elevate
How do we really measure the well-being of a human? If we’re talking about the quality standard of a human life, then we will refer to the Human Development Index (HDI) standards reported each year by United Nation Development Programme (UNDP).
HDI is measured using 3 elements; first is health, which can be seen from a healthy lifestyle, longevity, and infant mortality rates. Second is education, a combination of elementary, primary and high school education with literacy skills. Third is economy, including income value and purchasing power.
We are left behind
The latest report from 2010, shows that Indonesia’s HDI is ranked number 108 from 169 countries. Within ASEAN countries, Indonesia is number 6 out of 10. We are behind Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Philippines, and even Malaysia, which was behind Indonesia previously.
For education, Indonesia is once again behind, positioned at number 7 out of 10. This is the lowest point of Indonesia’s human development. Malaysia can lift their heads up high for their achievement in the education sector, their citizens have mostly graduated from junior high school. Indonesians in average go to school only for 5 years, which means they barely graduate from elementary school. And that is only from the quantity side, not the quality side.
Based on the data from Central Bureau of Statistics in 2010, Indonesia’s literacy level is 92%. With an estimated population of 237 million, that means there are still 18.9 million people left (8%) who are illiterate – a big number, and a big task for the government.
Narrow, Stupid, Poor
Literacy is a basic knowledge. Through reading, a lot of knowledge and information can be possessed and thus will form smart and valuable human beings with potential. In contrast, those who are illiterate will see the world from a narrow point of view because of their lack of knowledge, therefore creating a foolish and poor human being.
Literacy is also something that people need in order to express themselves through writing and conversation, or even poems and songs. Children are no different. Being able to read enables them to receive their rights to participate, to express opinions – about their lives, their dreams, their struggles or their discomforts in life. Literacy also enables them to speak up or write it down in a good manner. Expressing themselves through poems and songs is also another alternative.
As the future generation, it is not a surprise that children have become the main focus in literacy campaigns. It is in line with Indonesia’s participation as one of the countries who made commitment in the World Fit for Children Declaration in 2002. Resolving illiteracy is also one of the main goals in the Millenium Development Goals (MDG).
Vertical and Horizontal
With commitment and also collaboration from various elements, we are able to solve this illiteracy problem, especially for children in marginalized communities. In 1950, when Indonesia had just become independent, only 10% of the citizen were able to read and write, and only 230 people had graduated from high school. Under Soekarno’s presidency, within 10 years the literacy number went up to 80% and schools were present in each suburb.
Now that the education budget has been raised to 20% of the 2011 national budget, Indonesia should be able to resolve the education level faster. They should involve all forces, both vertically – from the president, the ministers, governors, mayor, subdistricts to the villages; and horizontally by involving institutions such as both the public and private sectors, non-government organizations, activists and volunteers.
By doing this together, the result will be a bigger, faster impact. Solving this illiteracy problem now, will result in better human development- creating a better life for, and humanizing the people of Indonesia.