JAKARTA – Indonesian scientists’ diaspora have experience that can be shared to universities in Indonesia. At the time when knowledge can be easily accessed, the experience of scientists working in overseas is still needed by Indonesia.

Those are things said by Vice President Jusuf Kalla when opening the World-class Intellectuals Symposium on Monday (19/8) at his office.

“In the past, Americans read the latest edition of a book as Indonesians were only able access the first edition. Now everyone can read the same fresh edition at the same time,” said Kalla, who was joined by research, technology and higher education minister Mohamad Nasir.

Held by ministry’s director general for scientific and higher educational resources, the event was attended by 52 Indonesian scientists working in many overseas countries.

Addressing the participants, Kalla said: “Experience is the best teacher. All of you have knowledge and experience. We need you to share them with us.”

Those two things, Kalla said, can boost the quality of research, higher education and innovation in Indonesia. He added that the nexus of research, technology and higher education was the sole reason behind the government’s decision to establish the Nasir-led ministry in 2014.

“Why did Indonesia combine education with research and technology? Because [when creating the new ministry] we were aware that excellent education could not stand alone without research, technology and innovation. Research could result in innovative products but it can’t be done without good-quality education,” said Kalla.

Kalla said the government allowed the scientific diaspora to remain working overseas because the group could bring foreign exchange as a result of their works. He took the Philippines as an example, because the neighboring country was able to receive 20 percent of its foreign exchange from its diaspora.

“We welcome any of the scientists working abroad if they choose to return to Indonesia. It’s also good if they opt to stay overseas,” Kalla said.

Nasir said his ministry supported the scientific diaspora if any of the group’s members wanted to contribute to Indonesia in many ways. One of the supports is by holding the symposium, which seeks to discuss various ideas to help develop Indonesia.

Nasir said: “Supporting the scientific diaspora to contribute to the development of Indonesia’s education and economy is in line with Mr President Joko Widodo’s upcoming policy on human resource development in 2020 and beyond, as well as the motto of this year’s Independence Day celebration, which was ‘excellent human resource, Indonesian progresses’.”

Indonesian International Scientists Union (I4) chairman Deden Rukmana said Indonesian scientific diaspora was “enthusiast” to contribute to Indonesia.

The event was attended by high-ranking government officials, representatives of Indonesian scientific diaspora and many other invited guests.