October 30, 2019
Indonesian Language Important but Undervalued at Home

People who choose to study the Indonesian language or literature are seen as inferior to those who major in medicine or engineering.

by I Gusti Ayu Aryoni
Issues // Politics and Society
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Language is a means of communication. That was what I learned in college. Humans use it to express their feelings, emotions, and ideas. There are so many languages in this world, and every language has its own history and uniqueness.

In Indonesia, students’ scores in the National Examination have shown poor results in the subject of Indonesian language. While it is not a really good parameter. According to the headfoundation.org in their article “Education in Indonesia: Literacy is the Key to Learning” suggested that the ability of average Indonesian adults to understand and make use of written information was low. It also means that our reading skill is low. Reading skill is crucial in learning process and in absorbing new knowledge from written material.

Poor reading skill is linked to the low interest in reading of our society as well as access to books. Children in rural areas have difficulty accessing books. While we can get text books in school, other types of books are harder to find. If we can’t buy it, we have to borrow from a library. Many rural areas have no library.

My elementary school library was rarely open when I was young. I once started reading a book about smallpox, but the next time the library opened again I could no longer find that book. I realized how having books to read is a privilege when in college my friends reminisced about how their parents subscribed to Majalah Bobo. It made me think of how I used to get Majalah Bobo from the pile of used newspapers and magazines that my mother bought.

Also read: How I Pushed Away My Mother Tongue in Favor of English – And Regret It

While some cities and towns already have public libraries, they are mostly underfunded. . We also have a national digital library app that can be downloaded from Play Store iPusnas, but the app still has so many flaws. Of course there is the internet, but there is so much misleading information and hoax on it. The old proverb says: “Buku adalah jendela dunia” (book is a window to the world), and it is so true. Books can give us a lot of knowledge and widen our horizon.

But our society doesn’t seem to value the Indonesian language much. They think science, math, and foreign languages are far more important than their own. In reality, Indonesian language is the lingua franca of our country; a language that is used as a common language between people who speak different native languages.

In high school, I never anyone who cried over a low score in an Indonesian language exam. In college, people who choose language or literature as their major are classified belonging to the second-class society. People who choose engineering or medicine majors are the first-class society – stereotyped as smarter and have more chance to succeed that the language and literature major. This is not true of course; people just have different dreams and interests. Whatever major you choose in college should not define who you are.

I hope someday children in the rural areas will have easy access to books, and that our society will give more attention to language studies, especially the Indonesian language. Hopefully, then, there will be more people who as passionate about the Indonesian language as Ivan Lanin.

I Gusti Ayu Aryoni or Ayik is a twenty-something woman from a small village in eastern Bali.