Speaker of the House: Advancing civilization through a culture of literacy

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Speaker of the House Puan Maharani. (Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO)

IO – Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives Puan Maharani expressed the importance of growing a culture of literacy from the environs of the family as capital for developing the capabilities of Indonesian citizens, in a virtual talk show, themed “The Role of Today’s Kartinis in Improving a Culture of Literacy”. The talk show was hosted by the National Central Library on Tuesday, 20 April 2021, to commemorate Kartini Day. “Literacy is a basic capability that a may serve as a person’s foundation to create a better life for themselves or for others,” she said.

In the talk show, Puan went on to say that Indonesia’s founding fathers had strong literacy skills. This is proven by the fact that the original Constitution of 1945, especially its Preamble, is so well-organized that it remains the compass that guides our lives as a State and a nation even now. “If we seek to develop Indonesian civilization, we need to develop a culture of literacy,” she said.

Puan went on to explain that “literacy capability” is a complex mixture of the ability to read, write, and understand and absorb information. Understanding information properly allows people to absorb knowledge, to think critically, to express their ideas clearly, and to solve problem. “If R.A. Kartini did not have literacy capability, the book Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang (lit. “Light Comes after Darkness”, officially published in English as “Letters of a Javanese Princess”) which inspires many “Kartinis” across generations for decades would never have existed,” she said.

In the context of growing and developing a culture of literacy, it is essential that Indonesian women take an active role, especially in the all-important scope of the family. Family is the smallest unit of community with a great impact to a nation’s development as a whole. Family is the starting point of a person’s life, and women have an essential role in the family. “Naturally, we want all Indonesian children to have good starting points in their lives. The values sowed within the family are the ones that will guide a person all their lives,” she said. “Therefore, if a culture of literacy has been sown in a child since an early age at the family level, they will grow up into adults with strong literacy. When the culture of reading is imbedded in a family, children will get used to seeking information or looking up things for fun using books and other textual sources.”

Puan understands that the effort to improve a culture of literacy is not an easy one, especially since most mothers are forced by circumstance into becoming working women who still have to take care of their households. However, she believes that Indonesian women have the creativity and resourcefulness that will allow them to establish, develop, and maintain a culture of literacy in their homes and in their social milieu. “Put any problem, no matter how hard or trivial in front of an Indonesian woman, and Insya Allah, with Allah’s grace, she will find a solution somehow,” she said. (Dessy)