AIYA LINKS: 20 October

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  • Makassar, 21 October – Do you want to improve your English and Bahasa Indonesia? Or do you want to learn more about Australian culture? If so, come and join AIYA Eastern Indonesia’s language exchange meet-up TOMORROW!
  • Sydney, 24 October – Come to AIYA NSW’s Malam Karier – Indonesian Careers Night, where experts from AFS Intercultural Programs Australia, Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, and Telstra will share their experiences followed by Q&A and networking.
  • Mooloolaba, 25 October – AIYA QLD and UniBRIDGE are hosting Language Exchange Night, join this fun event of socialising, networking, ngobrol seru, and free pizza.
  • Melbourne, 25 October – Attend AIYA Victoria’s Language Exchange, where you can polish your Indonesians and learn some Aussie slang. All levels are welcome!
  • Perth, 26 October – Grab your tickets to AIYA WA’s upcoming Basa Basi event with Dr Mike Nahan MLA, Leader of the Western Australian Opposition.
  • Sydney, 26 October – Check out AIYA NSW’s discussion panel on the military relationship between Indonesia and Australia with experts from Imparsial – The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor and Australian Department of Defence.
  • Yogyakarta, 28 October – The scariest thing is yet to come! Join AIYA Yogyakarta’s Halloween Party for a great night of language, fun, and spooky costumes.
  • Melbourne, Yogyakarta, Adelaide, Jakarta, Denpasar, Brisbane, Darwin, Sydney, 27 September – 7 November – Don’t miss out the upcoming ReelOzInd’s Australia – Indonesia Short Film Festival screenings in select cities across Australia and Indonesia.


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AIYA QLD networking event showcases opportunities for youth and industry professionals

Indonesia’s rapid economic growth is an open opportunity for Australia but this opportunity is often being missed. AIYA QLD’s recent Indonesian Opportunities Networking Event, organised in partnership with the Australia Indonesia Business Council (AIBC) Queensland, showcased the many opportunities available in Indonesia and how Australia and Australians can benefit.

With a population of over 258 million, almost half of which is under 30 years of age, rapidly increasing domestic consumption and increasing investment in economic and social infrastructure, Indonesia is full of opportunities for Australia. With its proximity, specialization in key industries and strong government-to-government relations, Australia is positioned to take full advantage of the opportunities that Indonesia represents.

Members of the AIYA QLD committee. Photo contributed

AIYA QLD’s Indonesian Opportunities Networking Event, showcased this opportunity, featuring talks from experts in their fields, an opportunity to network with Indonesian and Australian young professionals, business people and experts. The occasion was a great success, with over 38 people attended the event at the scenic Bar Pacino in Brisbane CBD. The event was attended by special guests David Widjaja from AIBC Queensland and Ruly Fitrah from the Indonesia Investment Promotion Centre (BKPM) in Sydney.

The speakers for this informative event were: Rebecca Hall (Executive Director, International Education & Training at Trade & Investment Queensland), Dr Emma Baulch (Senior Research Fellow, Digital Media Research Centre at QUT) and Dr Greta Nabbs-Keller (Manager for Indonesian Programs, International Development Unit at UQ).

Members of the AIYA QLD committee with the three speakers and AIBC vice-chairman David Widjaja. Photo contributed

Rebecca opened the talks by emphasising the close relationship between Queensland and Indonesia, and how the increasing number of Indonesians studying in Queensland was an opportunity not just for international education but also for tourism and other industries.

Greta followed on the theme of strong government-to-government relations, speaking on the Indonesian Government’s enduring priority of increasing capacity building and technical expertise, which is a great opportunity for the Australian Government and the private sector to bring Australian technical expertise and knowledge industries to improve Indonesia.

Attendees at the event. Photo contributed

Emma finished the talks by discussing the importance of connecting with Indonesia and Indonesians. She notied the importance of studying the Indonesian language and of connecting with Indonesia through the many programs such as the New Colombo Plan, Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program and other in-country programs.

The dynamic atmosphere of Bar Pacino, Brisbane CBD. Photo contributed

Emma’s message of making connections was taken to heart during the networking time with students, young professionals, business people and experts, who indeed connected and shared ideas. It was great to see such a wide variety of people come together, connect and discuss the opportunities that Indonesia represents.

AIYA LINKS: 13 October

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  • Adelaide, 13 October – Don’t miss out AIYA SA’s free movie screening of Solo, Solitude: Istirahatlah Kata Kata TODAY! Head over to Flinders University at 5 PM to watch it.
  • Perth, 14 October – Come to the biggest Indonesian cultural event in WA, Kreasi Indonesia – the Spirit of Garuda where you can enjoy tasty Indonesian food, music, dance, and musical drama!
  • Canberra, 16 October – If you love games and trivia, this is for you! AIYA ACT and ANU Indonesian Students Association are hosting Quiz Night. Sign up to participate and attend for a night full of laughter and fun.
  • Melbourne, 17 October – AIYA VIC hosts “Suku Mentawai” movie screening as part of ‘watch a film, save a culture’ campaign. Datang dan nontonbareng yuk!
  • Melbourne, 18 October – Join the Language Exchange event to polish your Indonesian skills and perhaps pick up some Aussie slang.
  • Sydney, 24 October – Come to AIYA NSW’s Malam Karier – Indonesian Careers Night, where experts from AFS Intercultural Programs Australia, Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, and Telstra will share their experiences followed by Q&A and networking.
  • Mooloolaba, 25 October – AIYA QLD and UniBRIDGE are hosting Language Exchange Night, join this fun event of socialising, networking, ngobrol seru, and free pizza.
  • Perth, 26 October – Grab your tickets to AIYA WA’s upcoming Basa Basi event with Dr Mike Nahan MLA, Leader of the Western Australian Opposition.


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Explore the collision of continents with Ian Burnet’s “Where Australia Collides with Asia”

Prolific writer and historian Ian Burnet has authored numerous books about Indonesia, and has travelled expansively across the archipelago. With the recent release of his latest publication, Where Australia Collides with Asia, we decided to delve into what it is about the nation’s cultural and biological diversity that so fascinates Ian.

What is Where Australia Collides with Asia about? How did you come to write it?

Alfred Russel Wallace is one of my heroes. He left school at 14 and became interested in the natural world while working in the countryside as an assistant surveyor. He started collecting and pressing plants before he had any idea there was such a science as botany. He then educated himself through local libraries and the Mechanics Institutes that were being set up all over Britain.

He then decided he could make a living collecting natural history specimens (insects, butterflies, birds, animals) in the Amazon and sending them back for sale to collectors in England.

I always wanted to write a book about Wallace but had to find a way that was new and different to what had already been done. It was introducing the story of continental drift and where Australia collides with Asia that allowed me to do this.

What is the story behind the Wallace Line?

In 1856 Wallace arrived for a few days on the island of Bali. Here he saw all the same birds that he had seen in his previous three years of collecting specimens in Singapore, Malaya and Borneo. When he crossed from Bali to Lombok and further into the eastern archipelago, he never saw the same birds again, instead seeing Australian species such as cockatoos, honeyeaters, bush turkeys and birds of paradise.

The Wallace Line represents the biogeographic boundary between the fauna of Asia (elephants, tigers, and all kinds of placental mammals including primates) and the fauna of Australasia (marsupials and all the different birds mentioned above).

Wallace was one of the founders of the science of biogeography. He was the founder of the idea of continental drift, because 50 years before Alfred Wegener had introduced the concept of continental drift and 100 years before the science of plate tectonics, Wallace had already concluded that Australia had collided with Asia. He was also, along with Charles Darwin, the co-founder of the most important scientific breakthrough of the last few hundred years – the concept of evolution through natural selection.

Not bad for someone who was self-educated!

How does your book have to say about Indonesia?

The fact that all these discoveries took place in Indonesia is something for Indonesians to celebrate. It should increase awareness by Indonesians of Indonesia’s unique position in the natural world and the importance of conservation of its already threatened species.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I lived and worked in Indonesia for 15 years as a geologist and have visited Indonesia for work or travel almost every year for another 30 years. It was after I retired in 2004 that I started researching and writing books about the always fascinating history of Indonesia and its people (including Spice Islands, East Indies, Archipelago and Where Australia Collides with Asia).

How important is it for you to both explore personally and share with others the history of Australia’s interactions with Asia?

Indonesia, spread across seventeen thousand islands and stretching the same distance as from Perth to Wellington in New Zealand, is the most culturally diverse nation on the planet. All this is on our doorstep as Australians, but for varying reasons most of us remain unaware of how much there is to see and experience in Indonesia. My books, the tours across Java, and the sailing voyages around the eastern archipelago are my contribution to bringing the wonders of Indonesia to a wider world, especially those in Australia.

Where can we find out more information?

Details about the books and the tours/voyages are available at this website. About 130 blogs, written over five years, about my travels and interests in Indonesia are available here.

A big thanks to Ian Burnet for his time and passion for Indonesian biogeography and diversity.

AIYA LINKS: 6 October

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Inequality harms the health of all Indonesians, not just the poor

By Sudirman Nasir, Universitas Hasanuddin

When we talk about inequality, the victims that commonly come to mind are the poor. But in fact, inequality harms all parts of the society, including the middle and upper class.

Oxfam and the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) released early this year a report on inequality, revealing that the gap between the rich and the rest of the population in Indonesia has widened over the last two decades compared to neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia. “The four richest men in Indonesia now have more wealth than the poorest 100 million people”, the report stated.

Indonesia’s inequality, measured by the Gini index, increased from 0.30 in 2000 to 0.41 in 2015. The Gini, developed by Italian Corrado Gini in 1912, measures income distribution with a scale of zero to one. Zero means perfect equality and one means all the country’s income is earned by a single person.

The widening inequality in Indonesia will create or worsen public health problems, such as physical and mental illness, as well as increasing acts of violence that impact the whole society.

Injustice is toxic, makes us all unhappy

Inequality is divisive and corrosive for the whole society. Studies have shown various forms of health and social problems are much worse in societies with bigger income differences between rich and poor.

Worse health and social problems means we have more people with physical and mental illness, more people engaging in violence, and a lower level of trust in the community. The situation can lead to drug abuse, more people in jail, and teen pregnancies. It affects children’s well-being, with a higher likelihood of those children scoring lower in maths and literacy, thus reducing their chances of having a better life than their parents.

Recent studies have advocated reducing the gap between rich and poor to reduce such problems. They conclude inequality and injustice are toxic to our health and well-being.

According to Indonesian Health Ministry data from 2013, 6% of Indonesia’s population older than 15 years old, or about 14 million people, suffered anxiety and depression. An estimated 400,000 people have severe mental disorders and 57,000 of them are shackled or have been a victim of shackling. Fortunately, the 2014 Mental Health Law outlaws shackling, but Indonesia needs to make greater efforts beyond the law on paper.

Unfair conditions promote risky behaviour

High levels of inequality can affect how people view themselves in the society. Public health researchers Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, in their seminal 2009 book on inequality, “The Spirit Level”, say greater inequality prompts “status competition” and “status insecurity” among adults and children and across all income groups.

Competition and insecurity breed individual alienation and vulnerabilities like worsening stress and frustration. They promote risk-taking behaviour such as heavy smoking, alcohol dependence and involvement in violence or even suicide.

This man lived shackled in stocks for nine years in a back room in his family’s home in Cianjur in West Java. When he was released, his legs had atrophied from disuse. Andrea Star Reese for Human Rights Watch, CC BY-NC-ND

Evidence shows surprising differences in countries’ well-being with different level of equality. The intentional homicide rate in 2011 in the United States, which has low equality, was 47 people for every million population. Compare the figure with those in more equal countries: 15 in Canada and three in Japan.

The cost of defending ourselves from such social problems is high. We need more money for police, jails and specific public services to tackle the problems, sometimes with high cost but low impact.

The middle and upper classes also suffer in situations of high inequality because of fear, threat and cost related to such problems. Take as an example the fear and anxiety related to the real threats of crimes, from petty ones to violent robbery on our streets. The economic, social and psychological impacts of these crimes are enormous because they can lead to injury, trauma, disability or even death.

Equality is good and possible

A large majority of the whole population — between 90% and 95% – benefits from greater equality, studies show. We, especially the government and the private sector, have to take the recommendations from the Oxfam-INFID report seriously.

A more equal society will benefit us all; we will have a better chance to improve our lives and have more capacity to live and work together. We will have less violence, crime, drug use and suicide in a more equal society.

Newer studies on mental health prescribe equality as part of the cure, and criticise the undue focus on individual solutions to mental illness. Individual treatments like therapies and drugs work well for many individuals, but the studies propose “social solutions” as well. We need to reduce inequality, based on the strong evidence that our mental health is highly sensitive to inequality.

Achieving equality is possible. Healthy public policies can help overcome the intergenerational cycle of inequality, by addressing its various drivers.

The Indonesian government has several options to combat inequality. One option is improving local service delivery in nutrition, sanitation, health, family planning and education, which then provides a better start for the next generation. Others are improving social protection programs such as conditional cash transfers, education subsidies and job training for young people.

We will need more funds to do this, but we can find the money if we tackle corruption and implement a fairer taxation system that forces more taxpayers to pay. The combination of these structural and individual programs can reduce inequality and promote better health and well-being.

The ConversationThe future of Indonesia’s development as a nation depends not merely on superficial economic indicators like economic growth but also on the more meaningful social measures of a more equal and just society.

By Sudirman Nasir, Lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Public Health, Universitas Hasanuddin.

Sumber asli artikel ini dari The Conversation. Baca artikel sumber.

AIYA LINKS: 29 September

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  • Indonesia is finally catching up with neighbouring countries for academic achievements. However, Universitas Indonesia’s Dicky Palupessy argues that in the 21st century, the science world needs more collaboration than competition (originally published on The Conversation).


  • Melbourne, 30 September – AIYA VIC hosts a BBQ to celebrate AFL Grand Final Day. Nongkrong yuk!
  • Perth, 4 October – Join AIYA WA for a Basa Basi with Mr Bill Johnston MLA, Western Australia’s inaugural Minister for Asian Engagement for lively discussions and hear stories from Bill’s first official trip to Indonesia.
  • Sydney, 3 – 6 October – Be prepared for the real terror! University of Sydney’s Department of Indonesian Studies hosts Indonesian Horror Week, where you can catch movie screenings and attend a talk show with Indonesian horror fiction writer.
  • Sydney, 6 October – Attend Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s ASEAN Forum with this year’s theme of Women in ASEAN.
  • Sydney, 10 October – Sydney Ideas with the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, and the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law present Fighting Corruption in Indonesia: current issues, challenges and prospects with Professor Todung Mulya Lubis, Dr Laode Syarif of KPK, and Professor Simon Butt.
  • Perth, 14 October – Come to the biggest Indonesian cultural event in WA, Kreasi Indonesia – the Spirit of Garuda where you can enjoy tasty Indonesian food, music, dance, and musical drama!
  • Melbourne, Yogyakarta, Adelaide, Jakarta, Denpasar, Brisbane, Darwin, Sydney, 27 September – 7 November – Don’t miss out the upcoming ReelOzInd’s Australia – Indonesia Short Film Festival screenings in select cities across Australia and Indonesia.


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Science in Indonesia needs more collaboration, not competition

By Dicky Pelupessy, Universitas Indonesia

After outnumbering Thailand in academic publications for the first time, Indonesia is upbeat that it will catch up with its more productive neighbours, Singapore and Malaysia, in 2019. However, in 21st century, the science world needs more collaboration than competition.

To measure Indonesia’s academic achievement, the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education and several universities pays a lot of attention to publications indexed in Scopus (one of the largest academic databases) and world university rankings.

In August this year the ministry announced with delight that, for the first time, publications by Indonesian academia (9,349 publications for Indonesia and 8,204 for Thailand as of the July 31, 2017) outnumbered those by Thailand academia. Now, Indonesia sits in the third position in the ASEAN, behind Malaysia and Singapore.

Whether or not Indonesia can retain this recent third position until the end of this year remains to be seen. However, the ministry is upbeat Indonesia will soon catch up and outnumber Singapore, which is currently No. 2 by number of publications, and by the end of 2019 it will pass Malaysia and be No. 1 in the ASEAN.

The data cited by the ministry was not bad at all. We should praise and be proud of it. Yet, we also need to critically assess it.

Looking beyond numbers of documents

We need to take a look beyond the sum of publications. Bibliometric database SCImago recorded in 2016 that Indonesia produced 11,470 publications, resulting in 4,604 citations. Thailand produced 14,176 publications, resulting in 11,331 citations.

Interestingly, citation-wise, Indonesia ranks even lower than Vietnam, which has less publications than Indonesia (5,563 in 2016) but more citations at 4,970.

There are various reasons why published work may or may not be cited. As a rule of thumb, citations indicate the relevance of the published work to the work of other scholars. The data from SCImago shows Indonesia’s citation is far behind Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

The data suggests it’s important for Indonesian academics to put more effort into getting their publications cited by other academics. Indonesia needs to publish more, and publish research more relevant to other scholars.

University rankings

Citations are also important because these are linked to the performance of a country in world university rankings. There are different university rankings in the world. The Times Higher Education world university ranking, considered the most reliable and comprehensive, confirms Indonesia’s standing compared with Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Using five performance indicators – teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income – The Times Higher Education’s latest ranking lists two Singaporean universities within its top 100, making Singapore the best among the four ASEAN countries.

The other three countries do not have any universities listed in the top 100 but Malaysia has nine in the whole list and one of them is in the top 400.

Thailand has ten universities in the list, one of them in top 600.

Three of Indonesia’s most reputable universities – Institut Teknologi Bandung, Universitas Gadjah Mada and Universitas Indonesia – are within the top 1,000 and Institut Pertanian Bogor is in the list’s 1,000+ band.

Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings lists only the top 200 universities, under 50 years old. In 2017, this list recognised one Singaporean university, six Malaysian universities and one in Thailand. Sadly, Indonesia is not on the list.

Times Higher Education world university rankings show that Indonesia not only needs to beat just the number of publications by Malaysian or Singaporean academics in 2019 but also the relevance of their research.

The century of collaboration for science

The ministry has tried to incentivize scholars with money to publish more scientific papers, but Indonesian academics need to go further than that.

Research finds 21st century science is about working with researchers from different disciplines and even public stakeholders. This sort of collaborative approach can be the basis of which to improve Indonesia’s higher education practices. This cooperation facilitates a shared vision to address complex challenges better.

Other research shows publications authored by teams of researchers have been more frequently cited and had a greater scientific impact since 1960s, compared with publications by a single author.

These studies – both written by teams – argue for team work, saying it is increasingly significant in producing knowledge.

Collaboration, not competition

The higher education ministry needs to place a greater focus on enhancing team-based research and pursuing collaboration between Indonesian researchers and foreign researchers, especially from countries or universities that have a strong reputation in scientific publication.

Data from SCImago below shows the percentage of academic articles from Indonesia written by authors from more than one country keeps falling while Singapore’s going up.

In addition to ministerial regulation on incentives for scholars writing scientific articles, the ministry needs to allocate research grants specifically endorsing collaborative projects.

The collaboration should be between Indonesian and foreign researchers to avoid insularity.

The ConversationIndonesia may need to start with its neighbours. Indonesian academics may not need to compete with Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. What they should do is to collaborate with them.

By Dicky Pelupessy, Lecturer, Faculty of Psychology, Universitas Indonesia.

Sumber asli artikel ini dari The Conversation. Baca artikel sumber.

AIYA LINKS: 22 September

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Are Indonesians really not interested in reading?

File 20170831 22614 94cm2n
School children read books at Palipis beach in Mandar, West Sulawesi. Urwa/Pustaka Bergerak, CC BY-NC-SA

By Lukman Solihin, Research and Development Agency of Indonesian Education and Culture Ministry

It was a sunny day at a public elementary school in a rural area near Yogyakarta. Students lined up to return the books borrowed from Helobook, a non-profit organisation that regularly lends books for free to schools in the province’s outskirts.

The kids looked happy and laughed a lot because this was their opportunity to access new, interesting books and movies.

Their school’s own library collection was mostly made up of books from government aid in 1990s, published by state-owned publisher Balai Pustaka. The books were out of date and there weren’t enough of them.

These students were also disadvantaged by the fact that their nearest book store is 15 kilometres away and the nearest public library is about 20 kilometres away. This is a problem because these students are from low-income families who can’t afford to travel to borrow books.

Are Indonesians interested in reading?

Low rates of interest in reading among Indonesians is something frequently referenced in news reports from media like Kompas, The Jakarta Post and Antara, which quote data supposedly sourced from UNESCO. These stories quote that one in every 1,000 Indonesians has a high interest in reading. But an exploration of UNESCO’s database and a request for this data have both failed to confirm these statistics.

This perception has also been reinforced by officials and public figures, who have raised the same concerns.

Students of public elementary school in Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, look at books brought by literacy community Helobook. Image: Lukman Solihin, author provided

Last year, a Central Connecticut State University study put Indonesia’s literacy rate at 60th out of 61 countries, one above Botswana. Officials and public figures also quote this but the ranking is not about reading interest. It’s about computer access, newspaper circulation, and reading comprehension, among other things.

A National Socio-Economic Survey by Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency showed the country’s TV audience reached 91.5% in 2015 while newspaper readers sat at 13.1%, the lowest point since 1984.

This low rate of reading might not be due to a lack of interest but rather a lack of opportunity to read.

Book access and library condition

Let’s take a look at the data that could serve as a parameter to understand reading interest. First, school library data.

In 147,503 primary schools we only have 90,642 libraries, that’s 61.45%. The percentage shrinks more when we look at the condition. From the total 90,642 libraries, only 28,137 are in good condition (19% of schools, 31% of total libraries). Junior high and high schools have similar situation.

The quantity of village or subdistrict libraries is the same. From 77,095 villages, Indonesia has only 23,281 libraries or about 30%.

The number of book stores is also much lower compared to the vastness of the archipelago. The biggest book store network, Gramedia, has only 100 stores in only a handful of big cities, out of the 514 cities and regencies of Indonesia.

The number of book stores, school and public libraries show how limited the access to books is for many Indonesians. How would people develop some reading interest if access to books is limited?

Library quality and communities of readers

Nurturing reading interest begins with making books available. Unfortunately, the number and condition of school and public libraries are far from adequate. Some school libraries might have a decent building, but the collection is an entirely different matter.

Libraries often serve a dual purpose, such as a storage room or sports hall. One library in Sleman in Yogyakarta, for example, is complete with a ping pong table to indicate its “flexible” function.

The government has instructed schools to allocate budget – increased to 20% of the government school funds in July from previously 5% – for library development and buying textbooks. But most of the funds are spent to buy school textbooks. The result is underdeveloped reading interests among students because of the inadequate book collection; students are bored with outdated books.

Amid this inadequacy, communities of readers in these have proven valuable. These communities open mini libraries in neighbourhoods. One example is the moving library network, Pustaka Bergerak. The growth of these communities is massive and sporadic, as readers reaching out to underrepresented and remote areas.

The government estimated there were over 6,000 mini libraries across the country. Meanwhile, as of August 2017, the Pustaka Bergerak network recorded reaching 312 communities, and counting.

This network has library ponies, libraries on rickshaw, libraries on bicycles, libraries on boats, and even a mobile herbal drinks seller that brings books to lend for free.

Villagers, mostly children, welcome a library pony in Rangkasbitung, Banten province. The volunteer spirit of literacy communities helps develop reading interests in off-the-beaten-track places in Indonesia. Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani/Pustaka Bergerak, CC BY-NC-SA

This movement has had a positive response from the government. After a meeting between literacy activists and President Joko Widodo on May 2 this year, the government, through state postal company PT Pos Indonesia, allowed citizens to send books free of charge to the communities registered in this list on the 17th day every month.

Small in scale but big in spirit

Communities of readers are usually built on the members’ love of books and their aspiration to share. Enthusiasm, idealism and capacity to build network are key to the growth of literacy communities and have less to do with the existence or the absence of government funds.

The network has been facilitated by Community Libraries Forum, initiated by the government. Pustaka Bergerak network has also shown great passion in their social media account, enabled by initiator Nirwan Ahmad Arsuka.

The number of these communities of readers, compared to the geographical and population size of the country, is perhaps minuscule. Nevertheless, this movement deserves an appreciation for its impact: nurture reading interest.

An example of the success of these communities is Pustakaloka Rumah Dunia in Serang, Banten. This community enabled a scavenger’s son to finish higher education, a fried snack seller to become a journalist, and a farmer’s son to become a poet. Their stories are compiled in a book Relawan Dunia (World Volunteers).

Discovering books also changed Muhidin Dahlan’s life. He was a kampung boy in Sulawesi’s remote area, who was curious about books, before he moved to Yogyakarta to become a writer and an activist in Indonesia Boekoe, a community known for its dedication in archive management, book publishing and establishing Radio Buku. His story is written in a book, Aku, Buku, dan Sepotong Sajak Cinta.

Unlike formal education institutions like schools, the success of reader communities is not measured quantitatively, like how many people have their access to books improved, or how large their book collection is. But the lack of impact in this area is dwarfed by their spirit, their effort to share the importance of books and the efforts to help others access books. Literacy, in this case, is not merely about reading materials and knowledge, but also about volunteer spirit.

The ConversationThe author is doing a research on literacy movement by communities in Yogyakarta, in Anthropology Department in Gadjah Mada University.

By Lukman Solihin, Researcher, Research and Development Agency of Indonesian Education and Culture Ministry.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.