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From Strength to Strength
Building on decades of strong ties between Singaporean and Indonesian communities, three non-profit organisations – the Singapore International Foundation, the Indonesia Bright Foundation and the Indonesian Professionals’ Association – are working together to build a better future for underprivileged Indonesian youth through education.
etween 1992 and 2004, 135 student leaders from Indonesia took part in an exchange programme organised by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF).
The SIF-Asean Student Fellowship programme gave Asean students the opportunity to learn the Singapore way of life through spending a semester at local universities and living with Singaporean host families. The friendships forged paved the way for future collaborations.
One of the key relationships that has emerged from this is the partnership between the SIF, the Indonesia Bright Foundation (IBF) and the Indonesian Professionals’ Association (IPA) in the field of education.
The IBF is a non-profit organisation (NPO) that provides educational scholarships to underprivileged children in Indonesia. It was formed by the Indonesian alumni of the SIF-Asean Student Fellowship programme, who were inspired by their study stint in Singapore to start the ground-up initiative. IPA, a Singapore-based NPO that enhances networking among Indonesian professionals in Singapore, was also keen to contribute to the empowerment of the next generation of Indonesians.
IPA to support the educational growth of promising Indonesian youth under the IBF and to foster crosscultural connections. This culminated in a weeklong study visit to Singapore for four Indonesian undergraduates in December 2015. During the visit, the students interacted with Singaporeans and learnt about different facets of the country, including its education system, arts and culture, and how it puts social innovation into practice.
In the same way that exchanges to Singapore sparked the founding of the IBF, the December visit motivated one of the IBF scholars, Muhammad Zalaluddin Sofan, also known as Jalal, to pay it forward by starting a social enterprise, Audio Visual to Elevate Society, after his return. It aims to promote learning among Indonesian elementary school pupils through the use of interactive and animated videos.
“The key highlight of [Singapore and Indonesiaʼs] relationship is that both communities recognise the value of working handin- hand to uplift the lives of the needy in the Asean region.”
I Komang Narendra, president of the Indonesian Professionalsʼ Association
Jalal, an undergraduate at the University of Indonesia, says: “The inaugural study visit to Singapore organised by the SIF, IBF and IPA for IBF recipients paved the way for me to connect with Singaporean social entrepreneurs and educators. This has, in turn, inspired me in my own social entrepreneurship journey to do good.”
The SIF-IBF-IPA collaboration in education was enhanced and renewed for two more years in May 2016 during the SIF Connects! Jakarta event, a platform for the SIF to reconnect with programme alumni and Friends of Singapore. Over the next two years, Singaporean and Indonesian communities will work together to mentor IBF scholars as well as conduct more substantive study visits to Singapore for the scholars. The SIF and IBF are also looking into the possibility of creating a regular platform to inspire other IBF scholars.
IBF founding member Mochammad Nunung Kurniawan, who is also the SIF’s representative in Jakarta, was re-appointed for a third term during SIF Connects! Jakarta. He believes that mutual respect and trust are key in building enduring relationships between Singapore and Indonesia. He says: “The SIF-IBF-IPA collaboration demonstrates how friendships forged in earlier years between citizens of both countries, coupled with a common interest to do good, can draw our communities together.”
IPA president I Komang Narendra agrees that the shared goal of making a positive impact is important to the relationship of Singapore and Indonesian communities. He says: “The key highlight of this relationship is that both communities recognise the value of working hand-in-hand to uplift the lives of the needy in the Asean region.”
Komang adds that the success of the first SIFIBF- IPA collaboration in education demonstrates how greater positive impact can be harnessed and enriching friendships can be formed when communities come together for good. He says: “We plan to build on the positive momentum created by the first collaboration to reach out to a greater group of needy students for the next run of the project. We also plan to raise the profile of this project to the Indonesian community in Singapore, with the aim of taking them to visit IBF students in Java.”
Aside from education, Komang says the arts and culture is one area in which he sees potential for future collaboration. He adds: “Indonesia would be happy to share its rich heritage and culture with the Singapore community. Similarly, Singapore might be able to share with the Indonesian community its unique multiracial and multicultural tapestry.”