When my father was defiant to throw me to study at Kanisius Senior High School, at first I just could not comprehend his seemingly confounding decision. Despite realizing the fact that I will study in a Catholic school while actually he had struggled so hard to build an obedient Muslim environment in my family, or knowing that both he and my mother must take turns to wake up very early in the morning to drive me to school (it was located about 20 kilometers from my house); he stood firm on his decision. “The school will shape your mindset,” he argued.
During my three-year high school times there, in fact it did not take as long as three years for his argument to be proved dead right. Inside I discovered that the school was very strict in various matters, particularly in terms of its commitment to produce Indonesia’s younger generations with honest character, which can be considered somewhat hard to find these days.
And it was somewhat surprising how the school takes this simple matter very seriously. I was astounded the moment I found out that the all-boys school has one major rule for its students: that every student who is caught up in the act of cheating, beyond any reasonable doubt, will be shown the door out from the school.
The rule was not mere words. It was three weeks before the national exam, and the school was not so lenient when two of my friends –who both were third-year students at that time–, were caught red-handed when cheating during the class. As the consequence, they had to undergo the agony of dropping out from school as because of their wrongdoing.
After I graduated from high school and enter a whole new environment in university, I realized that unfortunately not everyone in Indonesia is on the same frame of mind. When I was still in my early sophomore year in the university, one of my peers was very surprised on how I could score so high on the national exam without cheating.
“I wonder how you guys achieved an almost-perfect score on national exam like that without bocoran soal (test’s answers). I simply wouldn’t even have passed the national exam if I were you,” he said.
“Back then, I and most of my friends in my high school chip in together to pay millions to insider in the education ministry, thus we can get the bocoran soal and very much relied on that to pass the national exam.”
That’s not the only one. While many were surprised by plagiarism cases that have been dominating newspapers’ headlines in recent weeks, yet for me the news was far from shocking. In actual fact, even here in one of the best universities in Indonesia, students who just do a copy-paste job from the internet for their tasks and conduct such act of plagiarism can still be found.
We can see that dishonesty practices, as they have always been, can be considered custom entrenched in Indonesia. Eventually as more and more people get accustomed to it, such ignominy turns out to be something rational thing to do: since everyone does thing the same way, it’s the people who don’t do it who will be considered wrong among their society.
As I grow up and can see Indonesia in a bigger picture, only now I can understand why my high school decided to pay intense attention to the word of “honesty” on its foundation of learning. For too long various dishonesty conducts, such as corruption, have been the root of evil that hampers Indonesia from reaching its full potential. While Indonesia inherits the land of rich natural resources which makes foreigners to see us with full envy, very frequent many of the resources are utilized to fulfill someone’s greed rather than the interest of this nation as a whole. Corruption practice like that, unfortunately, flourishes very well here in Indonesia.
Every student must be taught that deceitful things like cheating and plagiarism are the most disgraceful thing to be put into practice as it can become the origin of future corruption acts. Such mentality, therefore, should be planted in the mind of all Indonesia’s younger generations from the very beginning of their development.
The future of one nation lies in the hands of its younger generations, and we ought to invest in our younger generations if we want to fulfill our dream of seeing this nation to stride forward. Without doubt, in the future Indonesia needs leaders and government officials who are equipped by not only intellectual aptitude, but also integrity. And yes we really need to start thinking about implementing strict policies when it comes to the subject of reforming the mindset and mentality of our younger generations.
The tangible solution is clear: someone needs to do something to fix Indonesia deep from the root of the problem itself. Perhaps that was the thing which crossed into the mind of my high school’s executives when they established such stern rule; or what exactly my father thought by the time he insisted on putting me to study there.
This article was published in The Jakarta Post on Saturday, March 6 2010