Indonesia is currently undergoing significant demographic changes. Shifting age structures due to the decline of birth and death rates are priming Indonesia for demographic dividends.i Today, the start-up scene in Indonesia can be credited to young entrepreneurs, with more than 2,000 businesses filed in 2019 alone, including many US$1 billion unicorns1 and even a $10 billion decacorn2.
However, following this period of accelerated economic growth and socioeconomic development, things may take a turn for the worse when reduced fertility rates eventually slow the growth rate of the labor market as further advancements in old-age mortality speed up growth of the senior population.iii In order to circumvent this restriction in labor market, particular attention is to be paid to help the next
generation reach their full potentials as participants of the economy.
According to a survey by the World Economic Forum, more than one-third of Indonesian youths have aspirations to become entrepreneurs.
It is therefore important to support innovative ideas that will boost the likelihood of their success and protect the future of our economy.
This can begin in their education.
Having been described as being ‘high volume and low quality’, the Indonesian education system is in need of change in order to maximize economic growth potential.
In recent years, a key movement in youth development across various fields has recognised the pivotal role of young people in reimagining and reinventing practices that concern them.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) states that children have a right to participate actively in all matters that affect their lives, including their education.
Young people are not empty vessels to be filled with adult perceptions and expectations; instead, they are capable drivers of change and ought to be allowed to exercise their agency and be included in decision-making processes.
In reinventing and reimagining education, scholars and practitioners have remarked that transformative
education requires a critical approach that goes beyond providing space and listening to the voices of young people — a genuine relationship between adults and young people must be established
However, it is contended that genuine and productive partnerships between youth and adults are unlikely to be formed under the traditional school culture that inhibits youth’s abilities to engage in decision-making processes meaningfully.
Youth and adults in Indonesian school settings sit in distinct and unequal positions of power and status.
Such asymmetries are manifested in the institutional norms of deference to traditional forms of adult authority and adult disengagement with the youth.
In practice, educators ought to consider their position in terms of power and status. Given the inept, often non-existent, bids to include students in school reform initiatives, attention to how to build youth-adult relationships is particularly crucial.
Educators must make intentional efforts to work in solidarity with young people rather than on their behalf, creating conditions for meaningful dialogues, actively listening to their thoughts and ideas, and ensuring that they participate in their own transformation.
Literature on successful youth-adult partnerships finds four common themes:
1. Trust and respect among group members: Educators must cultivate a sense of respect, trust and care for the youth beyond program interactions, to create a safe space for youth to flourish.
2. Creation of meaningful (not equal) roles: Roles and responsibilities for both educators and students are clearly defined and should be made apparent and propelled by leadership in the program or organization.
For instance, efforts to alter the bureaucratic style of educational planning and management can see decisionmaking and responsibilities for school matters transferred from higher authority to principals, teachers, parents, students and other members of the school’s community.
3. Capacity-building for youth and adults to successfully fulfil their roles: Both youth and adults receive training to acquire specific skills necessary to overcome asymmetries in power and status and form a partnership.
For instance, community education programs that engage in critical reflection, focusing on leadership, youth rights, parliamentary procedure, conducting research, interacting with adults in power, goal setting, facilitation, and developing a work plan, coupled with pro-social activities, such as sports tournaments, cultural events, to build community relationships, social capital, and enhancing the skills of the population.
4. A group size that is not too small and not too large: Successful youth-adult groups consists of one or two adults overseeing ten to fifteen students.
Youth-adult partnership is both a concept and practice.xxiv The firm belief in the idea that youth and adults can work alongside one another is what drives youth-adult partnership.
This partnership can transpire anywhere where decision-making processes are shared between young people and adults. The approach will differ based on the context and the degree to which it is applied.
Such a belief must be cultivated in Indonesia, for research indicates that partnering with youth in the classroom yields positive outcomes, including higher academic motivation and success.
Likewise, the acquisition of skills required to collaborate effectively and take ownership of their own learning may help students along their journeys, no matter what their interests, careers, or paths may be.
One can certainly imagine for this sort of practice to be implemented at a large scale and propelling the quality of the country’s future labor force to greater heights. (GKZ)
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