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Character Education

Jakarta Conference on National Character Building

Jakarta, Indonesia - With the rise of intolerance and violent clashes among different religious communities in Indonesia, there is a growing call from all sections of society for the urgent need for a national focus on character building and the revival of Indonesia’s founding spirit of pluralism and unity in diversity. The UNESCO Office, Jakarta lists ‘noble character development’ as one of their top priorities in their Education for Sustainable Development programs in Indonesia.

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Thus the theme “National Character Building & Sustainable Development” of the international conference jointly organized by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the Faculty of Communications, Universitas Tarumanagara (UNTAR) struck a chord, and over 400 participants filled the UNTAR auditorium on May 27 throughout the day.

After the National Anthem, a medical student from UNTAR, Mr. Ray Leonard, mesmerized the audience with his rendition of the song “Wind of Change,” lifting up the spirits of all present.

Dr. Eko Harry Susanto, Dean of the Faculty of Communication Science at UNTAR and host of the conference, delivered the opening remarks. The students of his faculty staffed and managed the entire conference with utmost dedication and sincerity. Several of the guests later remarked how impressed they were by Dr. Eko’s investment in his students making his faculty a model for others to follow.

In his inaugural address, the Chief Guest, Prof. Dr. R. Agus Sartono, Deputy Minister for Education and Religion of the Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare and distinguished Ambassador for Peace, pointed out that the school, family, and society must work together to build the character of their young people. Students must not only know the good but also desire it and practice it until it becomes a habit. His emphasis on core ethical values and performance values set the tone of the conference. In appreciation of his contribution to the conference and support for the UPF character education initiative, Mrs. Ursula McLackland, Regional Secretary General of UPF-Asia, presented him with a complete set of the UPF Character Education series Discovering the Real Me.

Dr. Mee Young Choi, Education for Sustainable Development Team Leader and Program Specialist in Education at UNESCO Office in Jakarta, spoke on “Learning for Change: Education for Sustainable Development.” The participants benefitted from Dr. Choi’s expertise in this field and came to understand the interconnectedness of Education for Sustainable Development with the Education for All program, and the UN's Millennium Development Goals. As time was short, Dr. Choi invited the audience to come to her office to learn more about Education for Sustainable Development.

In her keynote address on “Character Education as Foundation for Good Leadership, Communication and Nation-Building”, Mrs. Ursula McLackland introduced the UPF model of balanced education which helps students to become people of good character, build loving relationships, and make a positive contribution to society in their own field of expertise.

After lunch, Ms. Intan and the Acoustic Band, all UNTAR students, drew the participants back into the conference hall. Nobody wanted to miss their professional musical performance of Indonesian and international pop songs. Afterwards, with their enthusiastic dance performance, the members of the Asian Leadership Training, who are UPF volunteers from several Asian nations, brought students and professionals alike to their feet setting the stage for a lively afternoon session.

The first presentation in Session II, entitled “Effective Models of Training Students as Leaders for Sustainable Development,” was given by Prof. Dr. Multamia R.M.T. Lauder, Director of Education at the University of Indonesia, on “A Model for Integrated Personality Development at the University of Indonesia.” The audience came to appreciate the enormous efforts undertaken by the university to build the character of its students.

She was followed by presentations from Ms. Suzy Azehari, Department of Communication Science at UNTAR, on “Communication Leadership in Crisis Management” focusing on gender issues and Mr. David McLackland, Education Director of UPF-Indonesia, outlining the goals and projects of  the UPF Character Education Initiativ in Indonesia and abroad.

After a beautiful rendition of the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by the talented UNTAR students, Mr. Agung Permadi and Mr. Kevin, Mr. Daniel Tamburian, key organizer of the program and lecturer at Faculty of Communication Science at UNTAR, moderated a lively panel discussion during which the speakers were able to address the questions and concerns from the audience.

The program ended with the presentation of Ambassador for Peace certificates to a few selected individuals who wish to contribute to the peacebuilding efforts of UPF in Indonesia. However, participants engaged in animated discussions over a cup of coffee long after the official proceedings were concluded and returned home with a lot of new inspiration.

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