Four year in office, President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla have brought about positive changes in various sectors of life of Indonesians. The administration is doing its best to improve performance in realising Nawacita which had been agreed by the Jokowi-JK government.

Minister for Research, Technology and Higher Education, Mohamad Nasir, presented performance achievements of his institution at the West Merdeka Forum press conference, State Secretary building in Jakarta, Tuesday (23/10). Nasir said the ministry had been able to realise several targets that were set to improve higher education quality, science, technology and innovation abilities to support the nation’s competitiveness, as well as to improve people’s welfare.

The press briefing was themed welfare improvement and affirmative policies. Nasir said his ministry had a financial aid program called Bidikmisi, which served as an affirmative program in education aimed at eradicating poverty in Indonesia.

This program allows young, bright minds coming from low-income families to obtain full funding for their higher education, either in private or state universities. Not only covering awardees’ tuition fees, Bidikmisi provides them with monthly disbursement for living expenses. This program aims to reduce parents’ burden.

Nasir said the quota for Bidikmisi had increased year after year. This demonstrates the administration’s commitment to improving human resources quality and stance to support low-income citizens to attain higher education.

“The number of Bidikmisi awardees increases every year. It financed 199,408 students in 2014 and was able to increase the figure to 339,348 in 2017. Our target is to disburse the aid to 368,961 students in 2018,” said Nasir.

Nasir said Bidikmisi awardees had shown excellent academic achievements.

“Some 82.83 percent of Bidikmisi awardees has GPA above 3. Bidikmisi alumni also demonstrate convincing feats, like working for private firms, state-run companies, becoming teachers or businessmen,” said Nasir.

Apart from Bidikmisi, the ministry also manages the Affirmative Education Scholarship for students from Papua an 3T regions. This program aims to allow students from those regions to pursue higher education. As much as 1,673 students received the aid in 2014, while in 2018 the target has been set at 5,743 students.

“Every year, the ministry pays special attention to youths from Papua and 3T regions to acquire higher education. They receive special quota in universities, apart from the scholarship. Their academic performance is also quite good, with 31 percent of them getting GPA above 3,” said Nasir.

The ministry has also helped disaster victims in Lombok and Palu. It deployed education aid to survivors. The ministry disburses Bidikmisi aid to 2,000 students and PPA scholarship to 4,000 students in Lombok. It has also granted Bidikmisi to 3,000 students and PPA scholarship to 2,000 students in Palu.

The research ministry was helped by 38 state universities to provide sit in policy and credit transfer for students affected by the twin tsunami-quake disasters in Palu. This allowed Palu students to continue their study with sit in policy in 38 state campuses.

Improving People’s Welfare

For the past four years, the research ministry has introduced several programs to improve people’s welfare. The ministry, for instance, has a priority program on creating technology and innovation for citizens. The ministry supports universities to create innovation in agriculture and cultivation areas, which are important for Indonesia given its status as an agrarian country. One of the innovation products is Bogor Agricultural University’s 3S rice seeds.

“IPB’s seeds could increase productivity of farms to around 7 tons. They have been cultivated in farms totalled at 65,000 hectares in 16 provinces. This year, the seeds started to be grown in 44 ha of land on Java, Sumatera, Kalimantan [Indonesia’s part of Borneo Island], West Nusa Tenggara and North Maluku,” said Nasir

The ministry has also paid attention to fishermen in the archipelagic country. Innovation after innovation were created to improve economy of fishermen. One of the products is a converter kit that enables fishermen to save gasoline while fishing. Another product is the pro-analysis salt from BPPT. This product is a salt that is used for industry and laboratory.

“From application test, these products could significantly save cost. The converter kit enables fishermen to spend Rp 3,000 per day compared to the usual practice of Rp 30,000 for two-stroke engine vessel. The salt, meanwhile, is around 20 to 30 percent cheaper than imported products and could be used as a substitution for imported salt,” said Nasir.

The ministry has also created innovation to support batik industry in Indonesia. The product is created by the Bandung Institute of Technology and is called photonics automatic batik machine. This device could replace sun ray which has a role in batik tanning.

Nasir was accompanied by ministry’s secretary-general Ainun Na’im and communication and cooperation bureau head Nada Marsudi. Other officials who were present at the briefing included education and culture minister Muhadjir Effendy, development of village and disadvantaged region minister Eko Putro Sandjojo, social affairs minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, health minister Nila Djuwita F. Moeloek, women empowerment and child protection minister Yohana Yembise and presidential chief of staff Moeldoko.