Our EARTH is Our Only HOME

Uncontrollable Global Desires –> Global Destruction

“only when the last tree has died, and the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money”
(Cree Indian Proverb)

Environmental degradation has become worldwide issue nowadays, particularly after most countries realized that environmental degradation will surely endanger human races in the future. Despite the 37 countries have committed in a joint movement to save the future earth by signing the agreement regarding prevention of natural resources degradation mentioned in the Kyoto protocol, the issue is still become especially contentious among countries and organizations all over the world until the present days. But now let us put that aside for some minutes. Let us not not talk about global politics around environmental issues. Instead, we’re about to discuss about something that is closes to our life.., our desires and their impact to environmental destruction.

The earth is getting older. It is now populated with more than 6 billion people comprised with thousands of tribes and races around the world. As the population grows, the needs of those people become increase as well. Lots of people means lots of desires, lots of desires means lots of demands, and lots of demands means lots of supplies. Most human basic needs are taken from natural resources such as woods, water, mines, etc. It shows that the increase of human needs can inflicts natural resources degradation. For example, in producing our daily needs, many big industries are taking turns in over-exploiting the nature rapidly and continuously. Furthermore, globalization, which aligns with the policy of free-trade enactment supported by advanced technology which made the trading of natural resources become a lot easier, triggered the high frequent of natural exploitation all over the world. All of those are conducted to fulfill human needs.

Uncontrollable global demands will surely take us into the global collapse. For instance, let us consider deforestation as a sample case. Woods are used in building houses, creating furniture, tools, and many others. When population rises, people’s requests of housing and furniture will follow. Logging industries will cut down the trees to fulfill the demands of furniture factories. Therefore, more woods will be cut down. In addition to that, the world’s requests of crude palm oil (the basic materials used for coconut oil, cosmetics, and others) are also contributed to deforestation. More land opening in the forests are undertook by big industries. To make palm trees plantation, industries doing land clearance activities to have steppes used for planting palm trees. The fact now is; we are losing forests as much as 4 times wider than a soccer field every minute (*). Land clearance -or let us say it in a simple way; deforestation-, will cause the accumulated depletion of forest resources. The balance of the nature will be disrupted, and ultimately damage the environmental sustainability. Unsustainable environment is the root cause of series of natural disasters such as floods, landslides, and droughts. Many people have become victims of such calamities. Considering floods and landslides in Wasior, Sinjai, Situ gintung, and many other places throughout the country should be taken into account. In 2005, there were approximately 47 landslides occurred in Indonesia. 243 people died as the price that we paid.

The challenge now is how to prevent our earth from environmental disasters. Controlling our desire is truly important to prevent us from future damages. Policies that sides with natural sustainability are needed to be implemented as soon as possible. Applying strict regulations which aimed to control industrialization of agricultural products and plantation, especially those related with deforestation. The government should also cooperate with NGO’s and societies to aware all people. Human’s need is inevitable, but human’s greed is not.

Save Our Big Earth, from Our Little Houses

Previously, we noticed how the environmental degradation can endanger our future life. Simply, we should note that basically our uncontrollable desire affects our demands and leads to the natural resources exploitation. When this is happened, the natural balance be disrupted and ultimately leads us to natural disasters. We also note that the government, along with NGO’s and societies is responsible to the prevention of environmental sustainability. Therefore, environmental conservation movement should be taken immediately, carefully, and of course, simultaneously. Contributing to sustainable natural resources protection doesn’t mean that we should become the government first, or establishing NGO related with environmental activities or some sort of that. In fact, we can contribute to the nature from our home. Our habits define our contribution. Let us take some examples from our friends who care about our lovely earth:

1. Reducing tissue papers usage.
Tissue papers are one of things used by most of us nowadays. We can easily find people who use tissue papers everywhere (at homes, campuses, offices, streets, etc.), anytime (after eat, sweating, cleaning faces, etc). But, did you know that tissue papers are made from woods? There are a lot of woods used for making tissue papers. Using many tissue papers means cutting down trees. Reducing tissue papers usage can prevent deforestation. We can do that by, for instance, instead of buying tissue papers, we can bring handkerchief for ourselves, or having napery instead of napkin on dining table.

2. Reusing papers.
We read books, newspapers, and of course this paper for MAKES, which are using a lot of papers as basic materials. As well as tissues, papers are also made from woods. So, as we have mentioned above, using many papers means lost a lot of woods. We can reuse waste papers, for example by using its other side after using the first one.

3. Using cosmetics providently.
As we have noticed above, one of the usefulness of palm oil is cosmetics, and palm oil plantation needs steppes to be growth. Land clearance (deforestation) is needed to have those steppes. In short, we can say that using cosmetics providently can reduce the demands of palm oil. Everybody needs cosmetic (like soap, shampoo, etc.) to be beautiful, but being beautiful without the earth means nothing, right?

There are many things that we can do to help preventing environmental degradation. Beside the aforesaid solutions, other activities can be applied to protect our forests from massive deforestation. We can see that it is not important who we are, where we from, or what we do, but as far as we realized that we can do something, though it is a little thing, can become big benefit for our future generation. Some people have done their tasks, even from their little houses. So, what about us? Have we save the big Earth from our little houses?

“apabila pohon terakhir telah ditebang, sungai terakhir telah diracun, ikan terakhir telah ditangkap.., barulah manusia sadar bahwa uang tidak bisa dimakan”
(Pepatah Suku Indian Kuno)

Controversy over Student Protests

In big cities, especially those with many universities, student protests are very familiar. Almost every day we watch students standing on the main street expressing their opinion in opposing policies or responding emerging problems that mostly addressed to the government in the country. Some people accept these protests as one consequence of being a democratic country, in which, they thought that the students have certain power for monitoring or reminding the government to keep their policy on the right track, whilst some others feel annoyed by the street protesters.

For decades, student movements in all over the world have proved their “informal” political roles in against the ruling powers. Since the medieval era (French revolution, industrial revolution in Britain, etc.) up to the 1900’s (Cuban revolution, Iranian revolution, etc.), and the latest ones, Tunisian and Egyptian revolution, mass protests involved students as the core of movement to dethrone tyrannies in where people power prevailed. In Indonesian history, students have also played an invaluable part in several important occurrences. From the era of the revival of the youth led by Budi Utomo, independence war, 66’s affairs, up to the reformation 98, Indonesian students have proved their power as an important part that should be looked seriously.

In general, students have two main responsibilities regarding people’s social life, i.e. “the agent of change”, and “social control”. Both implicitly describe that one of student’s obligations is to watch every policy enacted by the government which directly impacted the life of many people, especially the poor ones. According to the students, protest is a part of student movement. Instead of using formal ways such as go to government offices and discussing the problem, which is according to them is such ineffective way, they prefer channeling people’s aspirations through protests. Street demonstration will be heard better than “polite discussion”. The only way is through street protest, so-called street parliament. Moreover, the students thought that they should be aware of their social responsibilities, considering that their universities, including their education process in campus, funded not only by their parents, but also from taxes collected from all citizens, even the poor citizens. Thus, students inherit the people’s aspiration that laid in their hands.

Among Muslim scholars (Ulema), this issue has become especially contentious. Some said that Islamic rules forbid moslems to protest the ruling power, for such opposing action like those are considered as a form of “disobeying the legitimate governance”. Therefore, they said, any protest should be prevented. These situations were happened in some parts of the Middle East countries when revolution took place. While on the other parts, some prominent religious leaders opposed the idea of forbidding protest, as long as it is still in line with Islamic values. For example, in the beginning of this year in Egypt, where student protests were fully supported by religious leaders and Islamic organizations, one of them is the Ikhwanul Muslimin. Another example is Iranian revolution, where their highest Ulema, Imam Khomaini, straightly asked the students to oppose the tyranny. They argue that every tyranny that led to suffering people should be resisted, no matter what.

The student protests should be judged wisely in objective way. Though sometimes street protesters are annoying us as the street users, we should realize that protest is a “reaction” of an “action”. Protest existed as a form of resistance to the misplaced policies that cause people to suffer, at least on the eyes of the students. Every protest bring message to those who they protest, predominantly the government, that students are always there to keep an eye on them, and to remind them, that they are there standing together to support the people, striving for the good values and bringing justice for all humanity.

Rural Development: a Way to Achieve National Welfare

Indonesia is one of the biggest countries in the world. With the population of over 220 million people, which is roughly 3 percent of the world’s total population, Indonesia becomes the fourth world’s most populous state. Indonesia is currently at the stage of its development through achieving economic welfare of its people. About two third of Indonesian people are living in rural areas. Due to the enactment of regional autonomy, the UU.22/1999, which has also been revised by the UU.34/2004, the rural governments have been given more authority in managing their own villages. The new legislation aimed to achieve decentralization and transfer of power from central to local government, with the hope that villages would be more independent. According to 2004 data, Indonesia now comprises with more than 62.000 villages, where 45 percent of those were categorized laggard. It indicates that rural development cannot be excluded as the main part of overall national development.

Despite the agricultural field contributes only 17,3 percent to the GDI, as much as 44,3 percent of Indonesians are engaged with agricultural field (BPS 2002). The fact shows that one of Indonesia’s characteristic is as agricultural country where most agricultural activities are situated in rural areas. Unfortunately, most injustices, discrimination, as well as ignorance are occurred among rural communities. Almost everybody agrees that rural areas are the fundamental part of Indonesian development, and targeting rural in national scale development is beyond contestation. Therefore, raising prosperity in rural areas should become the priority.

In rural development, generally there are two important things to be considered. To support rural activities, first there should be supporting infrastructures which are provided for local people. Infrastructures such as roads and electricity would be necessary to assist local people in doing their daily activities. Activities in agriculture (planting, fertilizing, harvesting etc), economics (trading, which includes buying and selling products), public services (transportation and administrative), and the others will be much easier with those facilities. Other facilities such as schools, public health centers, markets, and other units that give them access to useful information and public services as an important component in rural transformation.

The second important thing is human resources in villages. Giving them facilities but ignoring human factor will eventually make those facilities of being useless. In rural development, it is recommended to prepare the local people to be more skilled. Its purpose is to make them self-reliant, in which self-reliant refers to their own ability and resources in managing and organizing their villages rather than the outsiders. Enhancing their capabilities in analyzing their problems, determining and utilizing their surrounding potentials, designing and implementing development concepts of their villages, monitoring and evaluating their actions are some important skills to be mastered by the local people. Having those skills will empower them. Thus, with combination of those aforementioned factors -the infrastructures/facilities and the human resources-, obstacles that impair rural development will be subdued completely.

Rural holds an important role and contributes many things to the state. Some of those are; agricultural products such as rice and spices which are not only support the national food security (in relation with agricultural prospects), but also to increase national income through exported products i.e. cacao bean, coffee bean, crude palm oil, and many others. Equality in rural areas can also prevent villagers to migrate to town as the impact of rural poverty, where, in this context, some urban poverty cases are actually rooted to the rural poverty. Many other expectations can be realized through rural development, but in a short conclusion, we can say that redirecting the national development strategy towards rural development is one good solution to achieve welfare across the country.

Education Inequality (Part 2) : the Forgotten Heroes, the Poor Heroes

umar bakri, umar bakri..,
pegawai negeri..
umar bakri, umar bakri..,
40 tahun mengabdi..
tapi mengapa gaji guru umar bakri,
seperti dikebiri….
(Umar Bakrie – Iwan Fals)

Above is a snippet of satiric song entitled of Umar Bakri, sang by the legendary artist, Iwan Fals. It is a perfect scene to describe the reality of teachers’ life who always been ignored as one of the most invaluable assets in education. Since old times, teachers seemed to have been disregarded as important part in educating students in schools, where all responsibilities regarding on students improvement are brought onto their shoulder.

Generally, students use one fourth of their hours in a day at schools every day, where most of it is spent in socializing with their teachers. For around 5 to 6 days a week, teachers guide the students in improving their skills, to teach them not only about scientific knowledge, but also good deeds. Therefore, good teaching ability should be possessed by the teachers, thus will support the learning process in schools. It indicates that the significant matter is how to enhance teachers’ capacity in teaching students. Their duty is vital as educational extensionist, as persons who apply the national curriculum concept practically and directly to the students. In an ideal situation, a teacher should have enough capability in transferring their knowledge to the students, where this should be handled carefully. Having lack of transforming capacity will impair them to transform theories to practical teaching materials to the students.

High Expectation!!!, But Low Salary

Teachers’ obligation is to facilitate and direct their pupils to draw their inner potential to reach the maximum. It is not an easy task indeed. Instead, in some circumstances their responsibility is much higher than the students’ parents. Organizing a class contained with tens of children is not an easy task, for not everybody can do it perfectly. Teachers must recognize each potential of their students, where every student has their own characteristic potential that depends on their basic personality. For that reason, the role of teachers in analyzing their students’ potential, and implement proper way to increasing it is highly expected.

To improve teachers’ ability, they must spend a lot of time to join activities in personal capacity building especially related on teaching abilities. Attending trainings, seminars, and workshops should be considered as a good effort in supporting their improvement. Unfortunately, most of those activities are not free of charge. Not only time, teachers should also prepare much money to attend those activities.

It’s not a secret anymore that the teacher’s salary is still too low, or in short words; we can say it “totally unacceptable” especially for non-permanent teachers (note that most teachers in rural and remote areas are non-permanent teachers). The consequence, some teachers do a little business at schools, just to keep their pocket wet. They sold learning books and materials to their students, which should be free of charge. They make cookies and brought them to schools, or else. Another consequence, they have no ambition to improve their knowledge or keep it up-to-date . Some teachers want to go to seminars and trainings, but unfortunately, when they thought that they must spend a lot of money (their own money) to participate to those activities, they will be reluctant.

Analyzing the teachers’ problem is urgently required to improve the quality of education system in our country. Understanding their position and their important role would be wise if we put their needs first before thinking on how to equip them with other facilities. Good teachers make good students, and good students will lead us to great future, our nation’s future.

* a reflection on national education day… commemorated on May 2nd, 2011..

Education Inequality (Part 1) : Poor people and villagers ”are not” allowed to go to schools

Consider Unyil, son of a municipal high official who lives prosperously in the capital city. Every day, he goes to school picked up by his driver from his mansion. In school, he and his affluent friends use computer to do their math assignment from their teacher. On the other side, Bolang, a child living in a shack in his remote village, goes to school by walking down the hills along with his other companions. Studying in a small class and reading his books on the weathered table are his daily life in school. Though he is at the same grade with Unyil, Bolang knows nothing about computer. Instead of using calculator, he uses gravels gathered from a riverbank close to his school for studying math. They use an old fashion blackboard with some white chalks bought once a month by their teacher from the closest suburb which can be reached by motorcycle in 1 day journey.

The contrast condition described above on how those two kids in one generation experiencing different side of education facilities in their schools portrays the social reality of education divide of rich-poor which is mostly drawn as rural-urban discrimination. It indicates that children in cities were given more access to high-quality schools than those of their peers in villages. The major problem is that poor people are provided with schools, but unlike those elite schools in the cities, not with proper facilities to develop. The exclusion of the poor children increases the number of uneducated and illiterate rates of villagers which keeps them to be left behind. While cities grow faster each time, villages remain undeveloped. Ignoring education in the villages will delay their life improvement (as the impact of late adoption), and impede villagers’ welfare to grow which eventually makes them laggard.

Lack of education for poor children in the villages should be tackled with higher attention, because it is imperative to improve rural people’s life before thinking about overall development. There are many ways to improving education in rural areas. Make access to good education for underprivileged children, which is elaborated as cheap and affordable school’s fees, skilled teachers, good teaching and learning devices, and other student’s conveniences, is the most important things to be provided to make students’ passion for study to rise. Education is basic need of mankind (after oxygen, of course) to evolve, furthermore, to build and adopt with civilization. Specifically, education is primary need of children for building the country, where children and teenagers will play their future roles as the nation stakeholders. Addressing issues on modernize the country is impossible to be realized without aiming rural development as the sole of the nation, and achieving rural development will be unworkable without resolving its education problem for rural children.

* a reflection on national education day… commemorated on May 2nd, 2011..

Again…, Train Crash Killed 36

Train crash has recently become the most popular public discussion in the media, after a shocking tragedy broke out last Saturday killed 36 passengers and injured 50. A spokesman of transportation ministry announced that this accident was caused by a signaling error.

Experts said that one of the causes of train accidents in Indonesia was mechanical failures such as safety maintenance factor. Most of the trains operated by PT KAI have less machine ancillary time and it affects the trains’ safety requirement. Moreover, the director of safety in the Ministry of Transportation, Hermanto Dwi Atmoko, stated that the biggest motive in the train accidents was human factor. Therefore, as the one who bear the responsibility, they were obligated to improve the quality of human resources, which includes train-staffs, railroad men, track workers, and other train officials.

The phenomenon of railway accident has long become a serious problem in the country’s transportation affairs. Even though train is not the biggest people’s transportation, we can find the fact that, in Jabodetabek for instance, there are more than 400.000 passengers using trains every day. According to the data, within the first half of 2010 (January-July), there have been 32 train crashes occurred. However, hardly ever did the government and those who are responsible take any serious action to prevent the next disasters.

Whatever the reason is, finding the way out of this situation is required. It is our duty to urge all stakeholders to stick together to discuss and solve this problem. Because if we don’t, there will be more death tolls become victims as the real “life cost” of our failures.

Controversy on Capital Relocation

Jakarta, the biggest city in Indonesia, has recently being discussed to be relocated as the capital of Indonesia. It is most likely because Jakarta is not capable anymore to bear its job as the center of the state, especially when dealing with administrative matters.

The main reasons is the current population of Jakarta is too much higher compared with the width of its territory, and inflicts serious traffic jam every single night and day. It was said that formerly, Jakarta was designed by Dutch colony to accommodate 800.000 people only. But now, almost 10.000.000 people are living within the city, which means that the population of Jakarta has been rapidly increased for more than 10 times than it supposed to be. Another reason is Jakarta is a “loyal customer” of annual flood in Jabodetabek (watching TV programs broadcasting the capitals main streets inundated by series of floods have become yearly shows), and impairs its function as the administrative city.

Agreement vs Disagreement

Replacing Jakarta as the country’s capital to other city is still under debated and become especially contentious among many practitioners as well as politicians. Some experts said that Jakarta is no longer suitable of becoming our capital, and the central government should consider the possibility of relocating it so that it will not disturb their affairs. Moreover, they said, moving the capital will encourage equity of development in other regions, especially for those of cities located outside Java Island. But though this idea is supported by some politicians, others still stood for their disagreement regarding on this issue. According to them, the relocation will cost too much budget. There are still many problems urgently to be overcome by the executives rather than thinking of moving the capital.

Another problem is related to the compatible place as new location of the capital. The next question is “where will it be located?” Some suggested that Palangkaraya or Makassar are the most capable places to become new capital. Beside their strategic geographic consideration (which those two are situated in the centre of the country), they also ensured that those cities are not as crowded as Jakarta. But once again, the opposite side said that moving the capital is not that easy, especially if it is too far from its current location. Learning from other capital relocation of countries i.e. Canberra, Washington, Tokyo, for example, where the movement of capital was always nearby the previous places, the policy of capital movement should be handled carefully.

Despite of the controversial above, all people agreed that capital location is one of the important aspects to support development of the country. It aims to connect the provinces to the center of the nation, particularly in administration affairs. In addition to that, as the gate of the nation, it is important to show our hospitality and convenient for our guests from other countries. The government should realize the fact that many developed countries had succeeded in dealing with their capital problem before developing their country.