It is now well-accepted that as we move from the information era to the knowledge economy era, innovation and creativity will be key factors. Even capital will be secondary to new ideas and thinking.
Those nations that can ignite innovation within their economy will be leaders. This, however, is easier said than done as it requires massive changes in education and setting new priorities. It requires society to reward risk-taking and encourage creative thinking. This does not happen on its own but must be driven by the right policies and economic priorities.
If Indonesia wants to compete on the global stage during the next two decades, it must also promote innovation and creative thinking. Innovation must be the core of our education system and we must move away from rote learning so that our youth do not form rigid mind-sets.
Today’s generation requires and deserves a whole new approach to learning so they can create the products and services that will raise the whole nation up. As Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said, we do not want to continue to depend on natural resource exports to propel economic growth.
“In 2020, Indonesia can be one of the top five economies in the world with an income per capita of $30,000. Right in front of you is a huge cake worth $60 trillion you can tinker with. In 18 years, you will grow from Justin Bieber to Jay-Z,” he told 1,600 new students at Pelita Harapan University.
This will require the government to take the long road so as to meet that target by investing in education and the added-value sector. His words are reassuring, but action on the ground is more critical
If Indonesia is to realize its ambition, it must empower today’s youth. It must create leaders who can be role models. It must reform its bureaucracy. We need innovators in government as much as we need them in the private sector.