Searching for future leaders through critical essays
Indonesia’s leading investigative media Tempo has been looking for investigators to address national problems. In partnership with General Electric (GE) Indonesia, Tempo Institute, a subsidiary of Tempo that is concerned with journalism education and development, held an essay competition for college students named Menjadi Indonesia (Becoming Indonesia).
Participants needed to identify a problem, find a solution and present it to the public both written and verbally. The problems discussed varied from corruption, the education system, underappreciated diversity and entrepreneurship, to social issues like Muncar fishermen and the children’s traditional game egrang.
Out of 937 applicants, 20 of the best were invited to Jakarta to participate in various workshops. They met with influential public officials like the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) head, National Police Deputy Chief and the head of the Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B).
Their entrepreneurship talent was unearthed by the Mien R. Uno Foundation, while their leadership flair was enhanced by GE and INTI (The Indonesian Chinese Community). In addition to these they received writing skills training from the Tempo editorial team.
Taking on the task of assessing the essays were Jaleswari Pramodhawardhani from LIPI (Indonesian Institute of Science), Thamrin Amal Tamagola, a sociologist from the University of Indonesia, and the editors of Tempo magazine LR Baskoro and Purwanto Setiadi. The assessment comprised idea originality, observation accuracy, reference profundity and writing methods.
Standing out as the winner was Dhiora Bintang, a Business and Management student at Widyatama University Bandung. Through his essay Mengeja Indonesia di Sekolah Persatuan (Spelling Indonesia at Persatuan School), the 21 year-old writer and social entrepreneur talked about
his personal experience in dealing with pluralism, especially how his elementary school, SD Persatuan, perceived religious differences.
Dhiora grew up in a family that avidly followed politics, thus he has long been vocal on socio-political issues. The essay was an outcome of his anxiety at the degradation of respect within a diverse society.
“A drop of ink can move different people to think. Instead of protesting, I’d rather write,” said the Sukabumi youngster who once was offered the chance to be a legislative candidate in his hometown.
However, rather than being a politician, the 9th semester student stuck with what he trained to be: an entrepreneur. “Entrepreneurship empowers people, yet politicians often misuse this power,” he said during
The essay was delivered by filmmaker Mira Lesmana in a discussion and awards night event themed “Today’s Leaders Meet Tomorrow’s Leaders” on November 30 at the JW Marriot Hotel Jakarta. Presented as today’s leaders were, among others: State Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan; Tempo executives Thoriq Hadad and Mardiyah Chamim as well as GE Indonesia CEO Handry Satriago and housewife Mrs. Siami who stood up against the sontek masal practice, a school habit of pushing students to cheat in order to pass examinations.
“Investment in education, to foster and develop quality generations, is an obligation,” said Thoriq Hadad.
Both Tempo and GE Indonesia retain the same commitment to improving the excellence of human resources.
“Creating future leaders of quality, who are globally competitive in various proficiencies, is our concern,” added Handry Satriago.
The best three essay writers were granted a laptop and prize money. However, the most important legacy for the 20 writers is a book published with their thoughts contained inside.
Tempo hopes that they can develop the program, which started in 2009, by preserving the alumni community of Menjadi Indonesia. The community will allow its members to share ideas and strengthen each other in their efforts to improve Indonesia. Some alumni have been conducting hands-on projects back in their hometowns, such as creating a literature discussion group, publishing a free magazine to promote youngsters’ nationalism and forming a youth group to examine the Indonesia-Malaysia border.
Instead of moving on individually, the third batch of Menjadi Indonesia alumni have chosen to work on a project together. The 2011 alumni are developing Indonesia Menulis (Indonesia Write) Campaign, a movement to fight illiteracy in the country, with a pilot project of a literacy school
The Tempo Institute is expanding the program’s reach east by launching a road show. They expected longer and more various workshops to be conducted too, said Mardiyah Chamim.