World Student Christian Federation - Asia-Pacific Region (WSCF-AP)
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Regional Programme

Student Empowerment
for Transformation (SET) 2004

Alternative Education in the Context of a Pluralistic Society in the Asia-Pacific: The Role of the Student Christian Movement (SCM)

December 1-7, 2004
Jakarta, Indonesia

The SET 2004 was conducted by the World Student Christian Federation Asia-Pacific (WSCF AP) Region on 1-7 December, 2004 in Jakarta, Indonesia. 21 Delegates from 13 SCM member movements participated in this programme. They came from Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, East Timor, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The 7 days’ SET programme included keynote presentation, bible study, two student forums (national report), exposure and action plan.

The main objective of the SET 2004 was to study on the essential issue of an Alternative Education in the context of the pluralistic and diverse society of Asia-Pacific. Particularly, the SET 2004 was designed to empower the SCM members to achieve the following objectives.

Objectives

Keynote Presentation

On the first day, a keynote presentation was delivered by Mr. Max Ediger, a peace activist who is current working with Justpeace Center in Hong Kong.

He presented a broad perspective on the Asia context in terms of conflicts and alternative education. In analysing the root causes of the conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region, Max critically examined the role of the US in the region. He pointed out that the “War on Terror” and increasing “Militarisation” led by the US regime has been one of the root causes of conflict in the region. He also highlighted US colonialisation of global resources and economic globalisation as a critical source of the conflict.

Max reiterated the importance of education as a tool for transformation: Education is not simply a tool for job-training, it should be a transformative power that will eventually bring people the hope and vision toward the just and peaceful society. This transformative/alternative education system gives hope to transform the society by:

  1. Developing a commitment to a “bottom-up” approach
  2. Providing a variety of experiences
  3. Utilising information from different perspectives and sources
  4. Developing a process of good critical thinking
  5. Maintaining an effective process of analysis from the perspective of the marginalised
  6. Seeking ways to apply, in an effective, creative and prophetic way, the lessons gained from the educational process in order to build a just and peaceful world.

Finally, he challenged the SET participants to think more creatively and critically to be a prophetic power that creates transformative/alternative world views for the global society.

Bible Study

On the second day, Max Ediger led a Bible study which reflected the biblical concept of the peace. He said, “Peace is neither some romantic ideal of serenity nor some proposal of compromise or of temporary truce, but the vision of healing, reconstruction and growth. Peace also involves reconciliation among human beings. It is the breaking down of walls or barriers that have separated people. Furthermore, peace means reconciliation not only among human beings, but also with all God’s creation.” Max highlighted the relational aspect of peace. “The peace in the Bible is not some inner emotion of happiness of an individual; rather it is a corporate experience which arises from a structure of justice and wholesome growth which operates in a God-respecting community. It arises out of a relationship with God.”

Exposure

The participants could have two full days’ exposure. In the morning of 4th December, they visited the Center for Empowering Reconciliation and Peace (CERP), a NGO working for conflict transformation in Indonesia. In a dialogue with the executive secretary of the CERP, Mr. Sitohang, participants could articulate their thoughts on the root causes of Indonesian conflicts from the various perspectives. According to Mr. Sitohang, Java Island in which the capital, Jakarta, located has been the center of power. For example, Jakarta dominates 70% of the whole economy in Indonesia. Most parts of Indonesia have been excluded in terms of socio-political and economical rights which have provoked severe conflicts in Indonesia. One of solutions of the conflicts, he concluded, is to rebuild a social system in which the value of justpeace can be realised.

In the afternoon, the participants visited the Klendar village in central Jakarta and stayed overnight with the Muslim community. The poor villagers welcomed the SET participants with an overwhelming hospitality, which changed the prejudice of some participants towards Muslim people. The villagers are the families or relatives of the victims of the Mall burning riot in 1998. About 1,000 innocent civilians, particularly children were killed by the riot.

The villagers are desperately demanding the government to reveal the whole truth and compensate accordingly. They told us that the riot might be organised by some of military groups to win the political game in 1998.

Contrasting to the poor Muslim village were the luxurious shopping malls they visited next day. The participants could feel and realise the gap between the rich and poor in Indonesia.

Student Forums and Action Plan

As the final stage of the SET, the participants were able to share about the socio-political and economic situations of their respective countries and reflect the common problems and challenges such as militarisation, economic injustice, increasing violence, human rights violation, etc.

They also shared the situation of the current education system and identified common challenges such as privatisation, commercialisation and dehumanisation of the education. They acknowledged a strong need that the education should be a tool to promote a wholistic development of human beings which invites all people to participate in the justpeace-oriented society. Finally, the SET participants reaffirmed that the education should be a tool to realise the Reign of God for all creation in the universe.

On the last day, the SET participants came up with some creative suggestions towards alternative education paradigms:

Seven days’ SET was concluded by the closing prayers led by the participants, and integrated to the ASYG (Asia-Pacific Students and Youth Gathering) that followed in Cipayung, Indonesia.

 

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