[The following is a slightly abridged translation of a press release sent to ASIET (Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor) by the National Committee of Democratic Struggle (KNPD, Komite Nasional Perjuangan Demokrasi) in support of the Gadjah Mada University (UGM) Student Action Council (Aksi Dewan Mahasiswa Universitas).]

Yogyakarta - 16 September 1997

All Indonesian citizens have the right to a proper education. An education is one of the vital elements of humanity, cultural advance and the movers of history, such as the revolutionary figures Sukarno, Tan Malaka, Amir Syarifudin and others, who fought to free the people from Dutch colonialism and Japanese occupation. This cannot be separated from the question of education. Education is a place for the creation of a generation of intellectuals, who's existence, historically, is closely linked with the national struggle for independence. Education is a tool for us to struggle for humanity.

What has happened to the world of education in Indonesia over the three decades of the New Order government however, is clearly of great concern. Students are not taught to think critically and freely. The education system is full of indoctrination, "pragmatism" and students just learn things by heart. This cannot produce free human thought which is independent and responsible for the life of the individual and broader society.

Aside from this, capitalism creates separate levels of activity so that professionals and intellectuals tend to be separated from collective consciousness. Intellectuals only become "ordements" in the industrial factories. The irony is that the skills and competence for specialised jobs themselves are not available.

The system of contacts, patronage and paternalism has become the normal mechanism of doing things means that the existing education system is not able to abolish feudalistic traditions. It needs to be remembered that the history of enlightenment and social revolution in Western Europe in the 18th century -- which brought with it advancement and national grander -- is linked to progressive education which is anti-feudalism and of a democratic character.

Capitalism not only inhibits the economic and moral strength of the people but the high cost of an education means that not all people are able to enjoy an education. According to the 1945 Constitution the state is responsible for the peoples' education. The government has failed to fulfill this task.

There is also the selling and buying of degrees, the high cost of education and the birth of a generation who are only orientated toward chasing an education [in order to make money] rather that the essence of study. The system of connections which legitimises all this demonstrates the poor quality of our education system. Because of this, we, the people of Indonesia, must rise up to break down this rigidity and struggle to create an education system which is democratic and free. To free the people from the fear to express themselves, to free the peoples' creativity from its shackles, to free the people from ignorance!

The Yogyakarta National Committee of Democratic Struggle (KNPD):
1. Fully supports the actions organised by the UGM Student Action Council as an effort to improve the quality of education in this country;
2. Rejects uniformity and militarism in the world of education;
3. Calls for inexpensive education for all Indonesian people;
4. Rejects the commercialisation and monopolisation of education in all of its forms;
5. Calls on all Indonesian people in general, and all pro- democratic forces in particular, to continue to struggle to build an education system which is democratic and free.

[Translated by James Balowski, ASIET Publications and Information Officer]

Mon, 22 Sep 1997

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