Monday, December 6, 2010

Lets get to know Jakarta!

After visiting the countryside of the island of Java, coming to Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, might be a shock to one with its hectic life. Once noisy and foul-smelling with over crowded streets and open sewers, Jakarta is now transformed into a rapidly modernizing city. With its bustling city life and diversity of ethnic groups and culture, Jakarta is one of the fascinating place to visit in Indonesia.

Jakarta is the largest city in the Indonesia and metropolis in Southeast Asia with over 17,000 islands and 300 cultural groups, many of which speak their own language as well as the national language, Bahasa Indonesia.

A city rich in history, Jakarta's history and culture has many elements of India, Arabia, other parts of Asia, and the colonial powers of Europe, interwined with its own. Located on the northern coast of West Java, it is the center of government, commerce and industry and has an extensive communications network with the rest of the country and the outside world.
(Information adapted from

Jakarta is best known for its vibrant, friendly, fervent, and lively spirit among visitors taking flights to Jakarta. Let us first find out more about the people in Jakarta!

The people

Not less 9 million people live in Jakarta representing nearly all the ethnic groups in the archipelago. The city’s dominant populations are come from the surrounding areas of Java, many parts of Sumatera, Bali and Sulawesi. The major groups are Sundanese, Javanese, Chinese, and the native, Orang Betawi (people of Betawi). Other large groups that can be found in the city are the Minangkabau people, the Bataks, the Manadonase, and the other people from Sulawesi and the Ambonase.

The majority of the population in Jakarta are Muslims. In fact, Indonesia is the world's largest population of Muslims. However, it does not mean that Indonesia is an Islamic state. It is a Pancasila state. And one of the principles of Pancasila, the state ideology, is "belief in the one Supreme God". This means that the various belief systems must be respected and respect each other. This explains the ubiquitous Muslim prayer houses in the city beside many churches and a few temples.
For example, as part as their motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity In Diversity), the landmarks that are located at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park) such as the prince Diponegoro Mosque is juxtaposition with the saint Catherine Church, the Hallelujah Church, the Pura Penataran Agung Kertabumi Temple, the Aria Dwipa Arama Monastery and the Indonesian Mystic Convention Hall, symbolize the motto in matters of religions and belief.

Indonesians are known to the friendliest people in the world towards foreigBulleted Listners and most tolerant towards their manners. But there are few things which are not done among Indonesia. Here's a list of some of the things that are not usually acceptable in the society.
  • They consider the head as something sacred that must be respected.
  • Patting on the head is not done among adults.
  • Calling someone by crooking the index finger is considered impolite and giving or reciving things with the left hand is no - where acceptable.
  • The hand shake accompanied with a smile is common among men and women greeting or welcoming somebody.

    (Above informations are adopted from

Culturally speaking, when one speaks of the population of Jakarta, one means the Betawi, the natives of the city. Orang Betawi emerged in the 19th century from a melting pot of races, ethnic groups and cultures. They have their own culture distinct from other ethnics' cultures. The word “Betawi” is derived from Batavia, the old name of the capital during the Dutch administration.

Since generations have now grown up who were born in the city one may venture to suggest it has its own cultural identity, an urban culture on its own. Nevertheless, there is still a return to urban traditions that have been in existence for some time, such as that of the old Batavia and its local population.

Mode of education in the city

"Just like any other countries, the Ministry of Education in Indonesia administers the education policies in the country. All citizens in the country have to finish 9 years of education, 6 years at elementary level and 3 in middle school. The constitution stated that education in the country is divided into two parts, formal and non-formal. A formal education is divided again into three levels, primary, secondary and tertiary education.
Children with ages 5 to 6 or 7, attend kindergarten. It is not mandatory for Indonesian toddlers but the objective is to train them for primary school. Normally, the kindergarten years are divided into "Class A" and "Class B" pupils spending a year in each class. Indonesian attends elementary school from ages 7-12. Based on the national constitution, this stage of education is mandatory to all Indonesian citizens.

Part of main education in Indonesia is called Middle School. From ages 13-15 students attend Middle School for 3 years after graduating from elementary school. Indonesian citizens are not required to attend high school based on the national constitution, since they only need 9 years of education.

Students may attend to a university after finishing from high school or college.
Higher education method in the country consists of college or academy, polytechnic, institute and university. The objective of professional education is to train the students to master certain knowledge and/or capability and it consists of Diploma Education."

(Information adopted from

However said that, not everyone in the city are given the opportunity for a good education. Young children are often enough not given a good educational platform which is vital to their educational progress.

The National Education Ministry estimates that only 54 percent of children
currently have access to PAUD (an acronym for Indonesia's early childhood
educational program), which is aimed at kids aged three to six. It says the costs of the program, at an average of $64 per pupil per year, has deterred many lower-income families many from taking part. Without a good basis of education, it is difficult for people living in the city to find good jobs to secure their future.

One of the greatest challenge in improving the level of education in Indonesia is the lack of funding (around only 20 percent of the national budget is used for education). With the increasing number of population in the country, Indonesia has to be able to manage its resources well especially investments in its education system. In a recent article, from the Jakarta Post, there has been an increasing investment in PAUD to prioritize the education system in Indonesia.

The efforts put it might be small, but every big thing starts small. In my opinion, government really plays a vital role in ensuring that its people have equal opportunities to education. Investments by the government in its education system will bring benefits to its people and in return eventually contribute to the economy of the country.

In search to understand more about the cultures of Jakarta, lets discover more about the natives of Jakarta, The Orang Betawi!

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