Tony Harley Silalahi, Director of Polman Astra : Genuine Educators Who Improve the Nation

Today, May 2, 2018, we celebrate National Education Day, the important day when Ki Hadjar Dewantara or Raden Mas Soewardi Soerjaningrat, an activist of the Indonesian independence movement, columnist, politician and pioneer of Indonesian education from the pre-era until the beginning of independence, was born. The decision of education day based on his birthdate has an important meaning, first, as an appreciation to Indonesian teachers, and second, as an award to the world of education and its important role for the nation.

Thankyou, Teachers

Even though the method of education develops from time to time, the science also become more complex, the key to the success of education remains with the educators. Therefore, when celebrating National Education Day, we should give credit to all educators (teachers, lecturers, and instructors) who have contributed to educating the nation youth.

On this day I would like to thank all the lecturers, instructors and colleagues who have supported the implementation of the educational process at the Astra Manufacturing Polytechnic (Polman Astra). You have helped educate the young generation of this nation to support the development and growth of Indonesia’s industry. Those who have become alumni and work in various industries, when they feel grateful in their prayer for the blessings they have received from their careers, jobs and business, then it becomes a gratitude and thanks for the contribution and dedication of the lecturers, instructors and educators who had taught them.

And I would like to thank the teachers who have taught students at various levels of education sincerely and wholeheartedly.

Education and Nationalism

The education day that takes the birthdate of Ki Hadjar Dewantara can’t be separated from his contribution for the nation. Born with the name Raden Mas Soewardi Soerjaningrat, he was a descendant of Javanese noble. But at the age of 40 years (Saka’s year) he changed his name to Ki Hadjar Dewantara because he wants to be more free and closer to the people. He was involved in the movement for independence. In 1908 , he participated in Boedi Oetomo to increase people’s awareness about the importance of unity for the nation and state. Together with Douwes Dekker (Dr. Danudirdja Setyabudhi) and Dr. Cipto Mangoenkoesoemo, on December 25, 1912 he founded the Indische Partij which was the first political party with the ideology of Indonesian nationalism to achieve the independent Indonesia [i]. In 1922, Ki Hadjar Dewantara established the Taman Siswa which is his largest contribution for the education at the beginning of this republic.

This flashback of Ki Hadjar Dewantara’s life illustrates that education for the nation is driven by the spirit of nationalism to advance the nation. The spirit of unity will bring education focused to improve the nation. Love for Indonesia will create a strong desire to educate the nation youth.

Education and Social Idealism

In modern times, where business become the lives aspect, but as social beings, human have something that called “calling” to help other human. However, between social and commercial interests, there are some kind of conflict. For example, if people has to pay for getting education or if the cost of education is expensive, they will protest. On the other hand, educators also protest if they don’t get paid after they give their services and contributions. ‘Unsung Heroes’ has become an unfortunate term. “There is no such a thing as free lunch,” people say. Yes, teachers and educators also need money to live, buy books and various necessities of decent living.

The idealism in education is reflected in Article 31 paragraph 4 of the 1945 Constitution the 4th Amendment mandating that the state prioritizes at least 20 percent of the State Budget and the Local Government to meet the needs of national education. This is confirmed by the decision of the Constitutional Court Number: 013 / PUU-VI / 2008, the Government must provide an education budget of at least 20 percent of the APBN and APBD to meet the needs of the implementation of national education. [ii] Social idealism of education is manifested by the state’s presence that match with the country’s dream are to educate the nation. This continues to be fought for in order to provide affordable education to everyone in this republic. Since the 2010 State Budget, the 20%education budget target has been achieved through three education budget allocation: central government spending, transfers to the regions, and national education development funds.

Is the State Budget enough to finance all educational interests? In fact, it isn’t enough. The cost of education in modern times is getting more expensive. The cost of teacher and lecturer education is also getting more expensive, especially if they studying abroad. The operational costs of science and engineering education are also not cheap, let alone vocational education for high technology that requires expensive investment in machinery and inexpensive practice materials. Therefore, the private sector and philanthropists (people or organizations who donate their wealth to social activities) in helping education funding become very important. This isn’t only in Indonesia but also in many places in the world. Education is the basic human right but education isn’t cheap, because it requires the efforts and involvement of many parties so the education is available for whole nation.

Astra Commitment Through Polman Astra

As a company (business group) that has dream for the welfare of the nation, along with the ideals set by the founder of Astra Group, Om William Soeryadjaya, education is one of the pillars of corporate social activities. One of the manifestation of Astra Group’s corporate social responsibility in the education is through the establishment, support of the educational facilities and operational funding for Polman Astra, which is channeled through the Astra Bina Ilmu Foundation.

Polman Astra as vocational school in the higher education is much needed to support the progress of the industry. The implementation of vocational education is important for the Indonesian industry, not only for the Astra, because Astra Polman students have no official ties with Astra. Therefore, we hope that the idealism of Astra’s social activities to prosper the nation becomes the soul of every Astra Polman employee when they do the educational activities at Polman Astra. There is enthusiasm and high commitment to educate students to become competent people who advance the Indonesian industry.

Idealism of Educators in the Era of Digitalization

Is the idealism of an educator still needed in the midst of a commercial and transactional world? If you understand the nature of the fight for education to advance the nation the answer is “yes”. In the world there are many people who have idealism as educators and they don’t lack of anything. One of the greates example in the era of digitization that is leading to pervasive computing is Salman Khan who established Khan Academy which provides learning materials of Science and Math online to help students around the world. The access is free. At first, the study material was available only in English, now it is available in various other languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Turkish, French, Bengali, Hindu and German. [iii] Even the Indonesian translations is available on YouTube.

Khan Academy started in 2008 when Salman Khan was asked by one of his cousins to provide tutorials on difficult subjects. He taught it through the internet using Yahoo! Doodle Images. After that his other cousin also used the material. Because of the many requests, Khan made his tutoring material available on YouTube and the technology that he used was also developing. Finally, Salman Khan, who used to do that as a side job, in 2009 he dedicated himself to developing online learning full-time by establishing Khan Academy.

With the impact of his activities that helping many people to learn, Khan Academy has finally received funding support from many philanthropic organizations. Information on Wikipedia says that in 2010, Google donated 2 million USD to produce learning materials and translate them into various languages, AT&T donated 2,25 million USD. In the 2016 Khan Academy annual report, 10 individuals and foundations contributed more than 1 million USD, there are 3 foundations contributing between 500 thousand to 999,9 thousand USD, and several with lower numbers, and also, there are hundreds of thousands Learners Fund (supporters who contribute between 1.000 to 100.000 USD a year) and community donors who faithfully support the Khan Academy[iv].

The story of Khan Academy inspires that the free education can be done sincerely and with quality, eventually attracting many people to help and support. Salman Khan also doesn’t need to worry about his life because with his professional work, based on the legal provisions, according to Wikipedia he receive a yearly salary of 800.000 USD in 2015.

The story of Salman Khan is one of the many stories about educating people in this digitalization era. Some achieve the success, some may still struggle to survive and to continue their mission. Whatever the situation, in every era, people are always amazed and respectful of dedicated educators who genuinely educate many people.

Final Speech: Let’s Be Dedicated Educator

In the beginning, it was mentioned that the establishment of National Education Day on May 2, was based on the birthdate from Ki Hadjar Dewantara, an educational figure before and at the beginning of the Republic of Indonesia, was also a tribute to the educators themselves. Ki Hadjar Dewantara represents us, the educators.

When he began his work in the education, Ki Hadjar Dewantara didn’t have any obsession and dreaming that his name would be recorded as a national figure and one day his birthdate will be celebrated as educational day. Historical records show that what motivate him as an educator was his concern to educate the nation. The same thing happened with Salman Khan on a world scale in this digital era. He was driven by the concern of educating his cousin and many others in need, not because hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, every person who is dedicated to educating humanity and doing it in the best and genuine way, will get appreciation from God and humans.

On this national education day, let’s be a dedicated educator. Make Polman Astra the best vocational school for every student. They will appreciate it. God will also bless us.

Happy National Education Day…!

[i] “Ki Hajar Dewantara, Pemersatu Bangsa yang Selalu Terkenang Saat Hardiknas”, May 2, 2018 on

[ii] Hasan Ashari, “Anggaran Pendidikan 20%, Apakah sudah dialokasikan?”, Financial Education and Training Agency, December 30, 2014, on,-apakah-sudah-dialokasikan

[iii] “Khan Academy”, on

[iv] “Khan Academy 2016 Annual Report”, on

Bagikan Artikel Ini

Artikel Terbaru