Love for teachers, serving the nation

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Unifah Rosidi,Chairman of the Indonesian Teachers Association (PGRI). (photo: IO/Yoga)

IO, Jakarta – Her dream was to become a diplomat. However, the path of life led her to become an educator. Now, Unifah Rosidi has been selected as the number one person from the organization of the Indonesian Teachers Association (PGRI). Many things are still to be realized by this woman from Cirebon. She shares her stories with the Independent Observer.

Since childhood, Unifah was known as being active and enjoys learning. She admitted that despite living in the village, and with no electricity, her father who was the village head subscribed to newspaper. Therefore, she had the hobby of cutting out various currencies from different countries and stamps.

Post graduated from high school in Cirebon, she wanted to continue her studies at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences. Unfortunately, the enrollment at the institution was closed. Her dream of becoming a diplomat fell through.

Unifah also went on to study at the Department of Guidance and Counseling at the Indonesian Education University (UPI) in Bandung. After completing the study, Unifah had the desire to become an educator.

She was accepted as a lecturer at the State University of Jakarta. The desire for increased capacity made her continue her studies at UPI Bandung for Masters. She did not stop there, for her PhD she was accepted at the University of London, England. Unfortunately, her did not agree, so, Unifah continued her PhD at University of Indonesia.

While teaching, in 2005, she became active in the PGRI. “I was invited to the PGRI, by Professor Mohamad Surya, he was the chairman at the time,” said the mother of two children.

At the time she was holding the position of field secretary. Her job was to prepare the papers for Leaders. 12 years later, since she was first active, Unifah was elected as Chairman of PGRI.

Ever since she joined PGRI, Unifah feels sorry for the teacher. She said teachers need to be helped. “Teachers are not autonomous. In some districts it is often co-opted to be part of a bureaucracy. There is no freedom for speech. It’s hard taking care of their rights. Also the governance of the teachers is still messy, “she said.

As she plunges directly into the situation, Unifah starts to understand the problem of teachers even more. Especially, after being elected as Chairman of PGRI, Unifah is increasingly aware of the movement of the struggle of the teachers.

Unifah realizes that the process of teacher selection is not special. This resulted in a lack of teacher’s initiative to develop and advance themselves. “So I think teachers awareness should be encouraged and motivated, as teachers are not considered a priority,” he said.

In the midst of the complexity of problems of teachers, Unifah is grateful when traveling to various regions in Indonesia, she saw a young teachers began to grow with great capacity.

Teachers issue
Currently, Unifah has noticed there are three main issues regarding teachers. First, the shortage of teachers. This is because for 10 years there was no recruitment. Secondly, there is no training thus,  low teacher quality. Thirdly, the issue of teacher autonomy. Teachers are not autonomous. In class parents can intervene.

Another problem that is encountered, allowance for teacher certification. “Whereas this certificate is more relating to the budget politics. So the certification politics, paying it is also very difficult,”she added. These problems defames the teacher with time.

Teachers can not be separated from the serving, and devotion to give. “So we invite teachers through PGRI to fight for their interests. We realized our struggle is not easy. Due to the complicated bureaucracy. The President and Ministers are okay, but underneath it. Changing the culture of bureaucracy is not easy, “said the woman smiling.

PGRI is currently building a learning center. In the hope of improving the competence of teachers. “Although we are still looking for the format. Because we know that children today are different from the past. Thus, teachers must understand in order to avoid collisions, “he said.

Main Program
In leading PGRI, Unifah has 2 main programs. Inner Program, concerning modernization and running professional organizations, as well as making the system in the organization. “So we created the system of organization management. Currently, there are 3 million or more of PGRI members,”she said.

In addition, financial transparency. Where the membership dues of $4 thousand. Cash coming into the main center is Rp 400. However, because the branch is often lacking in funds so, often it is not deposited to the main center.

Outer Program to push out the collective consciousness for improving teacher quality. One of them is having a writing teacher program. Then there is TOT, training on trainers.

Unifah sincerely hopes that teachers have to be a source of enlightenment. When in class, the teacher must prevent radicalism. “Teachers as educators must spread love and have an open mind,” said Unifah currently still teaching S1-S3 (Bachelor – Phd) at the State University of Jakarta.

Unifah recognizes the challenges in building PGRI would be changing the mindset and professionalism.

As chairman of PGRI, Unifah wants to change the PGRI as moral and intellectual strength of the nation. “That does not make PGRI as a springboard for the benefit of individuals. So there is no personal interest. This is difficult because of changing the mind-set,“said Unifah who likes reading.

Unifah also wanted to make the teaching profession respectable and noble, well-being is not being played, aspiration of teachers can be heard, and the teacher can be the locomotive of change for the nation. If the government appreciates all the needs of teachers.

“This country has not provided a well deserved recognition for teachers. We dwell how teachers are honored,” she said.

Unifah hopes, teachers should not be mocked as a political commodity. Restore dignity of teachers. Restore the rights of teachers. “Teachers must thrive so that they can create a prosperous generation,” said Unifah who loves traveling. (dessy)