Written by Frendy


Cultural issues are one of the primary concerns for local culture enthusiasts, and even the local government. Cultures tend to be viewed as one of the primary aspects in determining the identity of the nation; the stronger the implementation of the local culture is, the stronger the national identity. However, it is undeniable that the local cultures in Indonesia is currently fading due to globalization; the society tend to prefer western cultures compared to their local cultures, and this carries the potential to weaken the national identity of Indonesia. Strengthening the practice of the local cultures is seen as one of the ways to ensure a strong bond between the locals and the cultures, and having such cultural practices obligatory in the cultural subjects in basic educational levels, from primary to secondary schools is seen as a viable approach by some part of the society. Still, it may not be an ideal solution in the end of the day.

When all students have to practice out the cultural values taught in the curriculum, such as the traditional dances, those students will have to learn and practice the aspects which are not in line with the value of education. The purpose of education is to provide the students with moral skills and general as well as specialized capabilities that enable them to be able to gain a suitable occupation and a proper sustainability. The secondary value that basic educational institutions provide is to provide the students basic knowledge of their local cultures to preserve the local identity; such goal can be achieved by providing the students with general knowledge and at most, specific information concerning certain cultures. The obligatory practice of cultural values, such as the obligation for students to practice traditional dances every week, is not in line with the value of education as it does not ensure the sustainability of one’s future, and it exceeds the general knowledge that students need to know in order to sustain their local identity as part of a unique nation; surely, there are cultural enthusiasts that work by practicing these cultural values, but those skills can be obtained in tertiary educational levels, including during university lives. Providing particularly specific skills for future sustainability should be the role of tertiary educational institutions, not basic educations.

The somehow forced practice of the cultures may be intended to create a positive perception of the cultures within the students, but it might result in those students having adverse thoughts regarding the cultural values instead. When it is an obligation, the students will have to practice the cultures regardless of their opinions, whether they like it or not, they have to do it. This is the problem as the students might be forced to practice those cultures against their will, harming their trust and affection with those cultures. Trust as well as affection is the primary aspects that determine the sustainability of one’s cultures, and those aspects can only be preserved when the individuals truly want to practice and know more about those cultures. When there is no interest from the students, they may either perform poorly or abandon the practice of these cultures after the obligation of practicing those cultures have been undergone through, resulting in the scenario of not solving the issue of continuous sustainability of the cultural values. Hence, it is better to have these practices during the time when the students possess the desire to practice them.

The compulsory practices of cultural values in basic educational institutions carry the potential to harm these cultures instead. When it is compulsory in all basic educational institutions, the enforced practice becomes a culture in itself; forcing students to conduct the traditional dances will become a culture. The students may think that all of these cultures need to be forced to be done, and when it is against their will, it triggers the sparks of hatred even more. Moreover, the society, both local and international, might assume that the cultural values locally are so low that it needs to be forced upon the younger generations regardless of their interests and willingness, resulting in a perception from the society that Indonesia is mostly about forcing people, bending people against their will, even in the aspect of national identity. In order to have sustainable cultural values, society needs to think positively about the cultures, that those cultures are interesting and possess meaningful values, not through injecting the perception of forcing as part of the local cultures.

In conclusion, the enforced obligation for cultural practices carries the potential to not only being ineffective, but also harming the local cultures as a whole due to the shift of cultural values from voluntary to being forced. In order to be able to preserve the local cultures, the locals need to be interested in it, and putting the obligation to practice those cultures regardless of the students’ willingness is not achieving that goal. Hence, the specific practices of local cultures should only be in tertiary or specific educational levels, not basic educational institutions. If the government would like to preserve the local cultures, it is advised to commence with growing the interests of the younger generations, not shoving down the practices of the cultures when the students themselves do not want to do so.