The Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia: Blunder Upon Blunder
By N. Mark Castro
For someone who has spent most of his career in the academe, who has benefited from his education and exposure to Western thought, incumbent Minister of Education & Culture of Indonesia Muhammad Nuh has continued to leave a trail of hasty decisions, controversial statements, and embarrassing missteps that have caused so much damage to the moderate image of the very country — and public — he so serves.
WHO IS NUH?
According to public information, Muhammad Nuh spent his time as a lecturer at the Electrical Engineering ITS, from where he received a scholarship to take masters at Universite Science et Technique du Languedoc (USTL) in France. While there, he and his wife Layly Rahmawati gave birth to their daughter.
He eventually returned to the Electronic Engineering Department of the Polytechnic Institute of Surabaya (PENS) ITS, where he was appointed as Director and, later on, was confirmed as its Rector. By the time he reached the age of 42, he was the youngest chancellor in the history of the ITS and during his tenure he wrote a book called “Strategy and Utilization Policy Direction Information and Communication Technology”.
Interestingly, Mohammad Nuh has also served as Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI) East Java, Surabaya, as well as Chairman of the Education Foundation of Al Islah Surabaya, among others. He often give lectures at various mosques in Surabaya.
During the 2nd Cabinet Reshuffle of President Susilo Bambang Yudyohono, Mohammad Nuh was appointed as the Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
There went the ballgame.
In 2008, Muhammad Nuh issued an order ‘dictating’ Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Indonesia to close access to sites that contained the film “Fitna”, including YouTube, Myspace, Metacafe, Rapidshare, Multiply, Liveleak, among others. This decision — reminiscent of laws during Suharto’s New Order — gave the government the right to control the content of communication on the Internet, affecting even global giants operating in Indonesia, like Google.
Several weeks ago, the Jakarta Globe reported that the Ministry of Education & Culture has made a decision to remove science from elementary public schools. After that, the Jakarta Post reported that the Ministry has also decided to scrap English in the elementary level.
Recently, Muhammad Nuh was embroiled in yet another controversial statement he made during an official press conference held at his office, regarding a minor that was raped during an eyeball incident. Nuh said there was no reason to believe that the girl had really been raped.
“Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it’s consensual, yet later they claim they were raped,” he said.
This was the statement given by the Minister of Education & Culture Muhammad Nuh, in the heels of a controversial expulsion made by the local school regarding the 14 year old rape victim, saying:
“…could no longer accept a student that has tarnished the school’s image”.
If we are to follow news reports, Muhammad Nuh seems to have a propensity for “blaming rape victims“, even when he has not met any of them, and instead of providing solutions that could help young victims in reintegrating with their academic lives.
Social justice activists are clamoring for the resignation of the Ministry of Education & Culture Muhammad Nuh.
In light of all these, the question begging to be asked is:
Aren’t Cabinet Ministers supposed to hold no personal views whatsoever other than the official position of President Susilo Bambang Yudyohono?
Because at the rate things are going, the president’s current cabinet ministries are either involved in irregularities or controversial statements, further tarnishing not only the image of the president but his political legacy as well.
It’s sad, really, when all the President has to say is: “ENOUGH!”