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Indonesia’s Education Forerunner Conferred SEARCA Outstanding Alumni Award

  • 8 September 2016

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For a country that has more than 4,000 higher education institutions, having been entrusted the executive post is one thing, but leading and transforming it into one of the most reputable universities in Indonesia is another. For Indonesia’s Dr. Musliar Kasim, it is, however, all in a day’s work. Dr. Kasim is considered one of Indonesia’ prominent personalities when you talk about education, even up to the present.

Dr. Kasim graduated top of his class at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Andalas (UnAnd) in 1983. Prior to being entrusted the position of Rector, Dr. Kasim occupied a number of key positions in the university right after he finished his PhD in agronomy at the University of the Philippines Los Baños through the SEARCA scholarship in 1991. This included being the Secretary of the UnAnd Research Institute (1994-2000), Chairman of the Institute of Community Services (2000-2002), and Vice Rector for Administration and Finance (2002-2005). He also served as Chairman of the High Council of the Rector of State University (MTRPTN) and Deputy Permanent Committee on Quality Development and Industry Education, Kadin Indonesia.

It was in 2006 when he was elected as Rector of UnAnd. As Rector, Dr. Kasim focused on upgrading the infrastructure of the university, as well as continuously developing its faculty and staff through graduate studies, improving teaching methods, and opening new programs. He is noted for the innovative changes that he instituted in the university, particularly in promoting entrepreneurship among its graduates and molding of students’ character. He spearheaded the development of new elective courses on entrepreneurship and exposed the students to local and international entrepreneurs, for the students to follow. Moreover, this program of UnAnd eventually became one of the national programs under the Ministry of National Education (MONE). In terms of character building, Dr. Kasim required all students living on campus to routinely perform Fajr prayer in congregation in the mosque. After prayer, the students are required to listen to lectures from successful people, who will hopefully build the students religious character.

Now, UnAnd is considered as one of the leaders, when you talk about character building and entrepreneurship. Thus, it is no wonder why Dr. Kasim was chosen by former President Susilo Bambang Yudhono for the position of Deputy Minister for Education in 2004, when Dr. Kasim was in the middle of his second term as University Rector. His mission then was to help in developing national education to produce intelligent people with distinct character, who are competitive and highly employable.

Among his many contributions as Vice Minister, was the revision and development of Curriculum 2013 (C-13), which focuses on developing character and empathy for others. The program covers the requisite competency knowledge, skills, and attitudes in an integrated manner such that the students will be capable of contributing to society, the nation, and world civilization. Teachers facilitate the learning process by asking guided questions that encourage students to discover content for themselves and stir curiosity among students to build their critical-thinking and communication skills.

Aside from C-13, Dr. Kasim was able to motivate people and communicate with the heads of the education office. Under his leadership, the ministry has renovated tens of thousands of schools. The ministry also conducted census and surveys that would map the conditions of schools nationwide, which helped local administrations improve education facilities in their regions.

While he has relinquished the said ministerial post when President Joko Widodo took the reins in 2014, Dr. Kasim, who returned to UnAnd, is still involved in many of the ministry’s initiatives, particularly with the implementation of C-13, proving his vital role in shaping the future of Indonesia.

These have been recognized by SEARCA, which is why Dr. Kasim is considered one of its most illustrious graduate alumni and a recipient of the Outstanding SEARCA Scholarship Alumni award.

The award gives recognition to SEARCA’s graduate alumni who have personified SEARCA’s values and philosophy and have distinguished themselves through their personal achievements, professional accomplishments, public service, and other meritorious endeavors. This is the first time since its establishment that SEARCA will be giving such prestigious recognition to its alumni, who it considers as ambassadors for agriculture and rural development in the region. Dr. Kasim and 10 other OSSA laureates will be awarded during SEARCA’s golden anniversary celebration on 25 November 2016.