“In terms of [economic] sustainability, talent attracts money more effectively than money attracts talent and that is where the challenge lies for Indonesia,” observes Dr Irene Jansen, Director of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in Jakarta. According to the World Bank, Indonesia currently has a youth unemployment rate that is five times higher than that of the national average while simultaneously lacking 2 million skilled laborers.
“We know that well-educated people tend to be out of work far less than not so well educated people. Indonesia’s ability to withstand the global economic crisis will depend on its ability to educate people and to improve output in terms of education and research,” says Dr Jansen
|Investment in human capital gets a boost through DAAD’s higher education collaboration initiatives |
To increase Indonesia’s capacity to invest in the education and research capabilities needed to transcend the ‘middle-income trap’, the German government has established a debt for equity agreement, whereby a part of Indonesian debt will be transformed into fellowships allowing Indonesians to study in Germany.
“The Debt Swap aims at improving the quality of higher education in Indonesia. Under this Agreement substantial funds are being invested in staff upgrading for young scientists to get their PhD in Germany,” comments Dr Jansen.
DAAD is a joint organisation of German higher education institutions that is committed to the internationalisation of German Universities. The DAAD Jakarta office is responsible for facilitating these fellowships with the objective of upgrading Indonesian lecturers and promoting greater research in such vital subjects as poverty alleviation, renewable energy, food security and marine science.
The institutional collaboration, research and scholarship opportunities being offered by DAAD represent an important investment in Indonesia’s bourgeoning populating. In the words of Dr Jansen, “if we talk about innovation and the future we will have to talk about universities and research. Unless Indonesia leap-frogs into research output and innovation, it will be very difficult to sustain wealth.”