Plan to Modernize Indonesia’s Education Falters

A plan to utilize Indonesia’s two largest Muslim social organizations (Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah) in a new mass teacher training has gone awry. Nadiem Makarim, the young, tech savvy, Ivy league-educated Education Minister, also enlisted two of the country’s oldest private foundations, Sampoerna and Tanoto, started by ethnic Chinese companies with vast holdings in cigarettes and logging. Their appointment sparked a protest over the use public funds. The program was to be a part of Makarim’s attempt to overall public education. Even though Makarim stood by the legality of using public funds with private foundations, he issued a rare public apology. That may have assuaged matters with NU, but not Muhammadiyah, which withdrew from the program. It remains to be seen how far President Jokowi will back stop him. Makarim is the founder of Gojek, one of Indonesia’s most successful unicorns, who only took up his post in October 2019.