Paying Off Indonesian Independence’s Debt: A Book Review


By: T. Nugroho Angkasa

Title: Indonesia Mengajar: Kisah para Pengajar Muda di Pelosok Negeri (Indonesia Teaching: The Stories of Young Teachers from Across the Country).
Authors: 51 Indonesian Young Teachers.
Introduction: Anies Baswedan and M. Arsjad Rasjid PM.
Publisher: Bentang Pustaka, Yogyakarta.
Edition: 2nd, December 2011.
Number of pages : xviii + 322.
Price: IDR 54,000.

The neglection of nation’s children education is a sin of each well educated person Anies Baswedan, Ph.D.

One main promise of Indonesian independence is to intellectualize the nation. It was mentioned in the preamble of Indonesia Republic Constitution (UUD, Undang-Undang Dasar, 1945) at paragraph four. Unfortunately, the government has forgotten to pay off the debt. Because there is an old saying, “Indeed, a promise is a debt”.

In fact, poor school building was not only written in Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Troops) book (Andrea Hirata: 2005), but it can be found in Sekolah Tanpa Nama (School without a Name) in Moro Seneng, Kalibawang, Lampung also (page 274). According to Putri Selfi Mahat’s analysis, Moro Seneng region was inhabited by many trans-migrants from Java and Bali islands. The majority of people there were working as laborers in the rubber plantations. Their income was very low for sure; it is not enough to fulfill their basic (daily) needs.

Moreover, no signs explaining that the building – rather called it shack – was a school. Only the flag pole stood in the courtyard, indicating that the students’ learning venue. The classrooms were sealed by bamboo tree. They consisted of 4 tiny chambers. There was no room for the teaching staffs. The floor was still covered by bare soil.

While this alumnus from University of Gadjah Mada (UGM) Yogyakarta entering the village, he felt the vibration of fear from its citizens. For, they live under the threat of eviction. They tended to be suspicious, especially to the newcomers or strangers.

Consequently, although the Red-White was risen up, they seemed to live in the middle of nowhere. Their existence was also ignored. Even, the access to make e-ID card was closed. In addition, a permanent school established was banned. Therefore, the neglect of the children education was occurred there.

Gerakan Indonesia Mengajar (Indonesia Teaching Movement) offered a concrete solution. They tried to fill the shortage of qualified teachers, especially in the remote areas. It was also galvanized the next generation. Therefore, they have a world-class competence and understanding the grass roots situation.

Previously, the best sons and daughters of Mother Indonesia must pass a stringent selection. Since 2010, around 11,017 scholars from Indonesia were selected, there were only 170 young teacher been chosen. Then, they shared knowledge and inspiration with 18,003 students from 117 villages in 14 districts. The program was initiated by Anies Baswedan, Ph.D.

This book consists of four chapters: Children Teaching Young Learners, Nurturing Optimism, Learning Humility, and Sincerity is Contagious. In total, there are 62 true stories. They are the reflection from the younger teachers. For a year, they were blusukan (teaching) at some remote areas across this archipelago. Among others in North Aceh, West Lampung, North Halmahera, and Fakfak in Papua island.

Rusdi Saleh told about a particular generators named genset (page 203). It’s the main tool to dissipate the darkness of night. As well as the energy source for cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices. Unfortunately, the power only operated for 4.5 hours a day, it’s from 6 pm until half eleven at the evening.

This Communication Bachelor of Community Development from Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB) is not going to criticize the performance of State Electricity Company (PLN). He just wants to share an universal value. For the mundane affairs, we should look down and not always to stretch our head up. There are still many houses in other remote area in Indonesia that had never electrified at all.

Indonesia Mengajar: Kisah para Pengajar Muda di Pelosok Negeri (Indonesia Teaching: The Stories of 51 Young Teachers from Across the Country) is a compilation of very simple daily journal. However, they are written by the best scholars coming from various regions of this archipelago. Most of them are in a form of short essay. Why? Because the laptop’s charging time is very limited. Even, some of the teachers wrote with their phone cellular. It’s so amazing. The Indonesian Young Teachers believe that, in fact, they don’t sacrifice anything. Since, it is a great honor to pay off the Indonesian independence’s promise. Two thumbs up!


Notice: This article received by Managing Editor of TAWARIKH journal via e-mail at: [email protected] Unfortunately, the article is not able to be published in the TAWARIKH journal due to not based research results. However, the editor of ASPENSI in News & Views considers that this article is very interesting to be shared together and be read by whoever concerns about education matters in Indonesia.

T. Nugroho Angkasa, S.Pd. is a Teacher of English in PKBM Angon (Nature School) and Extracurricular English Club at Canisius JHS, Sleman, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He can be reached at: [email protected]



  1. Amazing article. This is relevance with my experiences as “Guru Desa” (Village Teacher) in which there are limitation in many aspects. Thanks mas Nugroho for your concern.

    • Bravo Village Teacher! Since, you have dedicated yourself to serve the students in the remote area. Someday, if you visit Yogyakarta, please come to our nature school to share your experience with us, the young teacher. Many Thanks

  2. To the editor of ASPENSI in News & Views, thank you so much for publishing this book review. Therefore, it can be read by whoever concerns about education matters in Indonesia. Greetings from Yogyakarta to all friends there.

    • To encik Nugroho: Tahniah, syabas, and congratulation to you. I think it is an interesting article and we, the teachers of Malaysia, have appreciated proudly to you. Salam muhibah.

        • Salam tuan Nugroho: InsyAllah bila-bila masa kami nak pergi Yogyakarta, tak setakat tengon Borobudur and Prambanan temples tapi juga nak melawat ke sekolah tempat tuan berkhidmat. Bila tuan pergi Malaysia pulak, kami mengalu-alukan pihak tuan untuk sudi datang ke sekolah kami di bandar Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.

          • Cikgu Hasan, Prambanan Temple is quite near from our nature school, it only need 30 minute to visit that famous cultural heritage by riding a car. If you want to visit Borobudur, it only needs 1,5 hours. Thank you for your invitation, someday somehow if I go to Malaysia, surely I would visit your school at Bandar Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. Greetings from Yogyakarta to all teachers there.

    • Dear, mr Nugroho Angkasa. Our pleasure to receive a message that you have allowed us to publish your book review article. Hopefully you are able to write and contribute again an article to be displayed in our website. By this, your article is not only read by the Indonesian visitors but also be read by the visitors who come from other counties, especially from Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, and Singapore. Thank you one again and warmest regards from ASPENSI Committee in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia.

      • Dear ASPENSI Committee in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Thank you so much. I have never imagined that this book review would be read by many readers from Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, and Singapore. I love reading a lot. Therefore, most of my writing is in a form of book review. Next time, I will send another book review related to education. Warmest regards from Yogyakarta to all friends in Bandung.

  3. Sebaik sahaja membaca rencana yang ditulis oleh cikgu Nugroho daripada Yogyakarta, Indonesia, sayu hatiku. Macam mana wujud cikgu dan sekolah yang teruk sangat di Indonesia? Aku pikir perkara ini menjadi tanggungjawab pihak kerajaan, khasnya Kementerian Pelajaran di Indonesia. Bertuah la, aku rasa, cikgu di Malaysia yang tak seteruk nasib cikgu di Indonesia. Hidup cikgu di rantau Asia Tenggara!

    • Salam Wan Hasmah: Cikgu di Malaysia lagi baik nasibnya bila kerajaan ditadbir oleh pihak pembangkang. Kerajaan BN-UMNO ni pemerintah yang rasuah. Jom cikgu Malaysia undi parti pembangkang dalam PRU 13 nanti. Najib Razak kena ditukar oleh Anwar Ibrahim selaku PM Malaysia.

      • Dear Wan Hasmah, people said that after the bombing of Hirosima and Nagasaki, the Japanese Emperor asked one question: how many teachers that we have? It implied that this country focus on education. Therefore, they can be a big country in Asia nowadays. Indonesia, my beloved country must learn from this fact. Thank you for your comment and warmest regards from Yogyakarta to all teachers there.

        • Dear, mr Nugroho. I am interested in with your comments. But for Indonesian context, I think it is very different with the Japanese government. If the event, like the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing, is occurring in Jakarta of Indonesia, I think the Indonesian President as well as the Minister of Education will ask firstly “How about my family and how about my house, cars, gold, money, and so on”. Ha ha ha. This is real the Indonesian official styles, bro!

          • Dear bro Rodrigo hahahaha, absolutely agree. The Indonesia gov forgot to pay off their promise. Therefore, the civil society take that responsibility. , Anies Baswedan and other young teachers took that challenge. They said, “it is a great honor to pay off the Indonesian independence‚Äôs promise.” Many Thanks


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