‘That’s why we like proper governance’

From his early days as rector of Paramadina University to his stint as minister of education under President Joko Widodo until 2016, Anies Baswedan has been known for taking a revisionist strategy to benefit his constituents. In 2017, when he was elected governor of Jakarta, his constituents expected the same kind of creative thinking that had gotten him the job

‘That’s why we like proper governance’ AFP Photo/Anton Raharjo / ANADOLU AGENCY

From his early days as rector of Paramadina University to his stint as minister of education under President Joko Widodo until 2016, Anies Baswedan has been known for taking a revisionist strategy to benefit his constituents. In 2017, when he was elected governor of Jakarta, his constituents expected the same kind of creative thinking that had gotten him the job. As such, Anies has embarked on key policy endeavors to improve the average Jakarta resident’s quality of life while making the city more efficient. The governor recently addressed an open forum luncheon in Washington, DC, hosted by the United States- Indonesia Society, to outline his policies of economic collaboration, education innovation and infrastructure improvement, and answered questions from the audience. Below are excerpts of his replies to questions.

Would you give us an example of publicprivate partnerships?

Thank you for the question, and indeed these infrastructure projects that we had planned, the majority in the past, whenever we had infrastructure projects, were always done through government investment. That’s why there are stages. Now, we’d like to invite the private sector, and we have been partnering with state-owned enterprises, with Sarana Multi Infrastruktur. So, we go through Sarana Multi Infrastruktur to invite investors to come and finance our projects.

And we work on many of these. I’ll give you an example: housing. Housing, we invited the private sector to build the houses, to build the buildings themselves. Our part is to create the financial “skin” so that people are able to get mortgages, and the government provides the guarantee and also subsidies for their down payments.

What have been the results of delegating higher education responsibilities pertaining to Jakarta’s universities to the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, instead of the Ministry of Education, as it was previously?

The Directorate of Higher Education was part of the Ministry of Education. And then five years ago, the Directorate of Higher Education was restructured to be under the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology. So, it is Research, Science and Technology, and Higher Education. And so far that has not been a successful experiment. And it is very likely in the next cabinet that we will see a return of higher education to the Ministry of Education. So, we are going to see the minister of education supervising higher education again. At least that is what has been discussed in the cabinet, that we’re going to go back to the previous model.

Jakarta is also trying to promote revisions to the rules on higher education, secondary education and primary education. As of today, primary education is the responsibility of the district government, secondary education is the responsibility of the provincial government and higher education is the responsibility of the central government. In our city, we have more than 300 universities and colleges – in Jakarta. But we have no jurisdiction over higher education. What does it mean when we don’t have jurisdiction? We cannot provide subsidies. We cannot provide support to them because they are not under our jurisdiction. We want to do something about it. We want to help, we want to make sure more students, more of our citizens, are able to go to university, but the universities are not under our jurisdiction. So, we would like to propose, allow us in Jakarta to also have a say and have authority over higher education, so that we can help universities and have more people to university.

Your vision, your ideas are amazing, but mostly I’m most curious as to how you get things done. How did you build capacity?

Number one is having that clear vision. That’s always there. And then communicating it right, and then creating incentive and disincentive mechanisms. You provide incentives for achievement and disincentives for those who are underachievers.

In our system, we have salaries and incentives. So, we control incentives based on performance.
So, whenever we have a one-year plan, we break it down into monthly activities. And those monthly activities are being measured based on if you are able to complete them or not. If you are able, then your incentive is received, and if you’re not going to complete that then we’re going to withhold that. Withhold that for a month. And if you fail, we’re going to do the second withholdment. And then if it’s completed in the third month, then we pay, but it’s not a cut. It’s being withheld for three months. And so far we’re going into the first semester; it has been very successful in Jakarta.

Congratulations on the MRT. Ten miles is a great achievement, but 139 miles is quite a bit more. How are you going to deal with traffic issues that will be there in the short term during the next 10 years while you increase capacity to 139 miles?

We have experience from when we built the MRT. It’s called Traffic Visibility Studies. So, you make a traffic visibility assessment. When a project is going through the proper traffic assessment, and we follow that, we reduce the issue of congestion. On the MRT, our Japanese partners are very strict on that; that’s why we like proper governance. Very strict and it helps. But in other projects, we didn't do proper traffic assessment analysis, and then we didn’t restructure, re-engineer the way the traffic flows in some areas. And that will create heavy traffic jams. And based on our experience, of course we will be doing that in stages, meaning this year in that area, next year in the following areas. But all will be done within the window of 10 years.

Every year there are more young people entering the work force, but it’s obvious that not enough jobs are being created for young people. Do you see this as a problem? Do you consider it a major problem? What is Jakarta doing about it?

We are facing that challenge across Indonesia, in which the number of jobs created is less than the demand. Two things: one is about numbers, meaning we have more graduates than we have jobs available. That’s one, which means we need to improve our economic growth. Number two is with regard to the competence of our graduates. So, we need to improve the quality of our education system so that they can get a job right away, because the demand is actually there. Vocational training is being expanded. We are expanding our vocational training, and the way we do it is we transform vocational education from simply government institutions to semiprivate entities. And as for the students, they go to school three days a week and two days in the job market in an internship. In the past, the approach was the first two years in school, the last year was on-the-job training. We changed that. Half in school, half on the job.


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Anies Baswedan is the governor of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

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