Character development and nation building

Paul Suparno, Yogyakarta | Sat, 10/23/2010 11:55 AM |
The writer is a lecturer at Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta.

Character education has recently become an important issue in the Indonesian education system. After President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono spoke on the importance of character education, many Indonesian schools immediately incorporated it as new subject in the curriculum. Some schools developed special programs called character education.
Once a week, students must learn about values in character education sessions. Other schools have no sessions but teach the values in every subject, such as mathematics, physics, biology, Pancasila, Indonesian language or English language.
Every teacher should teach about the values in their own subjects. Other schools provide character education through school-wide activities and rules. With these models, all teachers and staff members are responsible for student character building.
Deputy education minister Fasli Jalal said that every school has the freedom to manage and choose how character education was taught to its students and therefore will have an opportunity to emphasize the school’s special character.
For example, a school with a religious focus can teach piety as a special character-building value. Other schools might emphasize discipline. Honest schools will emphasize the honesty as special character value. Through special values, people will know the unique characteristic of a school, which might make the school more attractive to young people and parents.
Even though each school has the freedom to choose the kind of values it emphasizes, for nation building there must be several values taught at every Indonesian school. Those values should be the most important values for supporting the Indonesian nation building project, and include the following.
First, multicultural values. Indonesia is comprised of many ethnicities, religions, and cultures. If the nation wants to be strong in the future, we have to accept the differences among us. Without accepting the differences, we will easily slide into fights and conflicts.
We have to realize that every Indonesian person has a right to live in this country. Without realizing and accepting that right, we will be weak as nation. The spirit of multiculturalism and religious diversity will encourage all people to accept others as members of the Indonesian nation.
This is the spirit of Bhineka Tunggal Ika: we are many, but one.
We sometimes lack that spirit. Some of us want to force our ideas on others
Second, honesty. One important reason why corruption is very difficult to eradicate in Indonesia is the lack of honesty. Most of us are not honest anymore. The spirit of honesty should be inculcated at school. Students should learn about the value of honesty and practice it.
They should learn to be honest in schools, honest with themselves, honest with other people, honest with their life and honest about what they are doing. They have to be honest when taking tests and national examinations.
Third, learning to obey the law. Our country has many problems since many people don’t obey the law. We have many laws or rules. But some people don’t like to follow the laws. We know the laws, but sometimes we break the laws.
Even people, who know the laws try to evade the law. Young people have to be taught how to behave according to the rule of law. In every school they have rules. Students should learn how to obey the rules. Doing something according to the law is very important, especially when most people have no moral values anymore.
Fourth is justice. Another important value for nation building is justice. Our nation and our country will be strong if there is justice for all people in this country. It means if there is no discrimination by the people who are serving as officials and that the government pays attention to poor people when making decisions and development plans. To learn of the importance of justice, students should be trained about justice and how be just to other people.
Fifth is empathy for other people, especially for the poor. The current era has led some people to live individualistically. Some people think only about their lives and families and don’t think about other people, especially the poor.
The nation will become strong when all Indonesians care about each other as one family. A spirit of empathy and caring should be introduced to young people. By doing so, we hope that the next generation would be more caring and have attention to the others’ life.
Sixth is the spirit for struggle. In the future we will have more challenges, either as individual or as nation. We need to struggle if we want to live better. The spirit to keep struggling should inculcated in students. Schools should help students to be creative and disciplined in their lives.
The process and the method of teaching those values are free. Each school is free to choose and to build its own method. But, according to my opinion, the values should be taught holistically.
It means that all schools, the learning environments, the rules, the teachers, the staff members and students share the same values.
Teachers will teach this value through their classes and schools will be managed according those values. Most importantly, students will have an opportunity to try and to use these values in real situations.

Source :
Friday, February 25, 2011 23:58 PM

2 responses to “Character development and nation building

  1. good source of character building

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