58.9% of our work force are Elementary & Middle School graduates: Demographic bonus or disaster?

The book launch held in the DPR/MPR RI Complex, Jakarta, on Tuesday (10/09/2019). (photo: IO/Dan)

IO, Jakarta – Deputy Speaker of the House (DPR-RI) Fahri Hamzah offers a solution to create welfare in Indonesia, as mandated by the Constitution of 1945. Fahri stated that the Government may use several solutions, among others reorganizing a number of sectoral policies in order to ensure better welfare. The outspoken and controversial legislator has collected his solutions in his book, Arah Baru Kebijakan Kesejahteraan Indonesia (“The New Direction of Indonesia’s Welfare Policies”). This book is the second of Fahri Hamzah’s welfare trilogy.

“I have attempted to deconstruct welfare policies as they exist. Most of my explanations come from my daily activities as an MP. In my second book, I place my focus on Human Resources as an important element in generating welfare in Indonesia,” he said during the book launch held in the DPR/MPR RI Complex, Jakarta, on Tuesday (10/09/2019). 

The 243-page book describes the five primary elements for generating welfare in Indonesia, each described fully in their respective chapters: “Indonesia’s Demographics”, “Labor Policies”, “Food Security Policies”, “Health Policies”, and “Educational Policies”. The second book in the trilogy came after Fahri published his first book, Mengapa Indonesia Belum Sejahtera? (“Why Hasn’t Indonesia Prospered?”). “The second book explains the weaknesses in the implementation of welfare policies. They indicate a mismatch with the realities and complexities of Indonesia’s society,” he said.

Democrat Party politician Dede Yusuf stated that from 2020 to 2035, Indonesia will face a demographic bonus, wherein 60% of its population would be of productive age. If managed properly, these people will be able to develop Indonesia greatly. “This is one of the ideas behind Mr. Fahri’s book: 10 years from now, we will have more people working for wages and strengthening the country,” he said.

However, before Indonesia reaches the demographic bonus period, right now we have a lot of lifestyle problems such as strokes, heart disease and cholesterol. In other words, our young generation is not a healthy generation.

Furthermore, we need to ask whether our current educational system supports our future demo­graphic bonus or not. Existing data shows that out of our current work force of 130 million people, 58.9% are only Elementary and Middle School graduates. We only have 8% college graduates, with High School/Vocational School graduates making up the remaining 20%-25%. Therefore, even in the Industry 4.0 Era, it is still very difficult for our work force to catch up. “In the AFTA era, professional competition will not just be between cities, but between countries. Let us improve our personal qualities in order to be able to compete and support our demographic bonus,” Dede said.

Expanding on Dede’s statement, former Coordinating Minister for Economy, Finance and Industry, Rizal Ramli stated that even now, many of Indonesia’s productive age citizens are unemployed. “Let’s not allow this demographic bonus transform into a demographic disaster,” he said.

Ramli believes that there are two things that can help our people prosper: maintaining the prosperity of farmers and creating a national social security system that actually helps the people. He further stated that if we want to generate welfare, we need to prioritize the wellfare of the common people. We must even provide bureaucratic services for them, for free. Yet on the contrary, all these years it is the rich who are accorded more conveniences. “I’m sorry to say this, but until now, the only president who really cared about farming was Mr. Suharto. There is barely any concern for agriculture following the presidents after him, just rhetoric,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Vice President candidate Sandiaga Uno, who attended the discussion, stated that there are several indicators of Indonesia’s welfare. The most important of these is support for the needs of the common people. “The most important thing is to get our people to focus on the support that they would need,” he said.

One of the primary factors that determine welfare is the provision of job opportunities that would help develop a fair and prosperous nation. “As soon as they have jobs, income and earnings, they can have more opportunities to upgrade themselves, as described in Fahri’s book. Finally, more and more citizens become prosperous as well,” Sandi said. He then added that food security is the next most important thing. “Because the prices of necessities, especially foodstuff, is our principal duty. The idea is how do we keep prices affordable for all the people,” he said. (Dan)