Currently, about 70 percent of Indonesia’s citizens from the ages of 19 to 23 do not pursue higher education, although the number of those who do has doubled since 2004. Experts say that the welcome increase, fueled in part by the government’s recent focus on easing barriers to education, is still not enough to fill the vast need and drive Indonesia’s economy forward. In addition to accessibility, the quality of education available to Indonesia’s students remains a matter of serious concern.
Furthermore, despite recent strides in providing elementary education in the country, some 2.5 million Indonesian children of school age (up to age 15) do not attend school. Children in poor, rural communities most often suffer from lack of support for obtaining an education.
Income inequality has also become an increasing area of concern in the country. International think tanks point to the fact that countries with robust educational systems go on to achieve higher per capita incomes and are thus better poised to develop their overall economies. Experts have issued recent calls for swift government action to address the growing shortage of skilled workers throughout Indonesia, and to boost the quality of the nation’s teachers at all levels.
Through the Tanoto Foundation, self-made businessman and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto is attempting to leverage the strength of the private sector to help solve these problems. The Tanoto Foundation offers scholarships to Indonesian university students in need, and provides basic necessities to the country’s populations. The foundation’s National Champion Scholarships and other initiatives have served a wide variety of students with high potential but limited financial means. In addition to financial aid, the Tanoto Foundation offers skills training, counseling, and internship placement for the students it assists.
In September 2014, the Tanoto Foundation signed scholarship agreements with more than 200 new students at Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi Province. The foundation also provides funding for scholarships at Mulawarman University in East Kalimantan.
This year, these two universities are the two additional institutions that join the other institutions that have been working with Tanoto Foundation since 2006. These partnerships enhance existing commitments to assist thousands of students at more than half a dozen other Indonesian institutions of higher education.