The misconceptions about men, women and HIV

Here’s one to challenge your preconceptions about men, women, sex and HIV by Wisdom of Whores author Elizabeth Pisani.

This should be food for thought, especially for the gender champions who tend to think that education and empowerment would solve much of society’s ills and reduce the rate of HIV infections.

Men are pigs, women are angels. Not.


Yesterday at 1:17am

As promised, data on women, autonomy, partnerships and HIV. It’s quite true that I have not developed some magic indicator of “autonomy”. But the World Economic Forum has. Or at least its Gender Equality Index is as close as damnit. Let’s take the sub-Saharan African countries at either extreme, and set their equality index against their HIV rates:

On individual measures that are often indicators of women’s ability to make their own choices and decisions — educational level, for example, we see a strong correlation too, both at the national level:

and at the household level:

So, in countries where women are more equal to men on measures of workforce and political participation as well as education, there’s more HIV than in countries where women are more constrained. In countries where women are more educated, there’s more HIV. Within countries, more educated women are more likely to be infected with HIV.

via Facebook | Elizabeth Pisani: Men are pigs, women are angels. Not..

Teachers are doing it for themselves – on the Net

How do you help increase the quality of education in Indonesia?

Well, if you’re Citibank, (disclosure: they are our clients and we helped in this project) one way is to help set up a forum where teachers can help themselves, learn from each other and discus ideas.

And this was what Citi did in conjunction with their NGO partner, HOPE Indonesia.

The Aksi Guru website

Yesterday, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility efforts under the Citi Peka unbrella, Citi among other things launched the website that it says is probably the first of its kind in Indonesia aimed at supporting teachers’ peer-development and student outreach.

It says high school teachers in Indonesia can, through, embrace social media as a means of communication and a tool that has the potential to facilitate information and experience sharing among the education community. Through the site, teachers can exchange ideas and thoughts, and most importantly interact with their students most of whom are already tech-savvy.  Citi, in is media release, added:

“We hope to boost teachers peer development by launching the website,” said Charles Ham, Country Director Yayasan Hope Indonesia. “The use of internet and social media as a means for widespread communication is remains relatively low among teachers in the country, and we hope to generate teachers’ interest and eagerness in sharing their creative teaching methods with others though this site,” he continued.

“We have seen Indonesian teachers’ ability to create interesting learning activities continues to grow over based on the 4,448 proposals CSF received in the past seven years. Now is time for these teachers to inspire one another through,” says Ditta Amahorseya, Director-Country Corporate Affairs Head, Citi Indonesia “We hope for CSF grant recipients and other high school teachers become role models for each other and their respective schools as well as pioneer education methods that are innovative, creative, and inspiring.”

As with so many sites utilizing social media these days also uses Twitter and Facebook to amplify its messages.

From the response so far, it looks like teachers are taking to this new form of cooperation, co-learning and collaboration.

Related information:

Pendidikan dan guru 2.0

Guru Kreatif

Mengajar Lewat Blog by Ndoro Kakung






The 2.0 Indonesian teacher

There are many bright sparks in the vast, seemingly barren landscape of education in Indonesia. Agus Sampurno is one such spark and he’s using his blog and  Twitter account to inspire others and ahare experiences with them.

Full report in Talking Points

Pendidikan Indonesia dan Guru 2.0

November 18th, 2009 | No Comments »

Tags: agus sampurno, aksi guru, guru 2.0, guru kreatif, maverick, pecha kucha, pendidikan 2.0

Posted in Ideas, Indonesian | Edit |

“Saat ini, kita mempersiapkan siswa kita untuk pekerjaan yang belum ada. Kita persiapkan mereka mengakrabi teknologi untuk memecahkan masalah yang belum ada.”

Kira-kira begitulah yang disampaikan Agus Sampurno–seorang guru SD yang fasih menggunakan social media termasuk blog, Twitter dan Facebook. Pak Guru yang aktif di Twitter dengan akun @gurukreatif ini yakin bahwa guru, dengan segala keterbatasannya, bisa menjadi guru yang kreatif. Guru Kreatif

Blog Guru Kreatif“Guru dan buku bukan lagi sumber pengetahuan saat ini,” kata Pak Agus. “Murid-murid sudah fasih mencari bahan-bahan dan informasi di Google dan search engine lainnya. Guru harus siap dengan ini semua,” ujarnya saat berkunjung untuk sharing session mingguan Maverick Jumat lalu.


Pak Agus pun bertutur mengenai bagaimana seorang guru di era 2.0 ini harus mengubah sikap dan pola pikir mereka. Kedisiplinan tidak bisa lagi diterapkan lewat rasa takut atau sikap galak; tetapi lewat rasa hormat. Rasa hormat timbul ketika siswa bisa merasa nyaman berada di kelas, dan merasa bebas untuk berinteraksi dengan gurunya. Rasa nyaman inilah yang harus dipupuk oleh seorang guru kepada para siswanya.

Salah satunya, lewat cara belajar yang kreatif.

via admin | Maverick Indonesia.

Indonesia not fussed bout science and maths in English

For many normal countries like Indonesia, getting instruction in English is something desirable and they move ahead, maybe slowly but surely,  in an increasingly globalized world. Countries like Malaysia seems bent on moving in the opposite direction. Malaysia Boleh!

Students being taught English in an open-space class in Aceh. The use of English as the language of instruction at national schools is limited to some 700 schools out of 5,000. (Antara Photo)

via the Jakarta Globe:

Ministry Turns a Deaf Ear to Critics Over Use of English in the Classroom

While the use of English as a language of instruction in schools has often sparked controversy, the government says it is unlikely to follow neighbor Malaysia and drop the use of English for math and science classes.

The Ministry of National Education’s director general of management for primary and secondary schools, Suyanto, told the Jakarta Globe the ministry would stick to its agenda of increasing the number of schools that use English for math and science lessons.

“No way will we drop it,” he said. “Students have a great capacity to learn, so we should encourage them.”

Last week, the Malaysian government announced that it would dump English as the language of instruction for math and science in schools. Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, as reported by Agence France-Presse, said his government was convinced that science and math needed to be taught in a language that would be easily understood by students.

Critics of Malaysia’s nation-wide policy of teaching these two subjects in English say that student performance has declined since the policy’s introduction in 2003, and that it is particularly unfair for children who are not proficient in the language.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Another idiotic headline and buried story in the Post

Here we go again with idiotic, firm-grasp-of-the-obvious headlines in the Jakarta Post.In which exam are there not tears of joy, sadness greeting the results? So long as there are exams it has been such and it will continue to be such so long as there are are exams. And this as the page 1 lead.

That is not the story. The story, Unspun would think, is buried in the 12th paragraph: why were there seven schools in Alor Regency in which not even a single student passed the exam? Can some real grown-up journalists please direct the copywriters in the weekends?

clipped from
Tears of joy, sadness greet exam results
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Kupang

Tears of joy and sadness greeted Saturday’s announcement of final examination results for junior high school students across the country.

Those who could not hide their excitement took to the streets on motorcycles, while others sprayed colorful paint on each other’s uniforms.

“We’re doing this to show our excitement after finally passing the national examination test,” student Putu Wira of SMP Dharma Praja in Denpasar, Bali, told Antara.

At another high school in Denpasar, SMP Dwijendra students clad in traditional Balinese costumes gathered en masse to pray for good results.

  blog it

Republic of delusions

Information and Communications Minister Sofyan Djalil has a sensitivity beyond the ken of most politicians and a sensibility beyond the belief of most right thinking persons.

His latest effort as guardian of what the nation should or should not be told is to try to pull the plug over  a TV show satirizing politicians called Republic of Dreams (Republik Mimpi) . His reason: the show promotes “negative political education” to the people.

If negative political education is what he is up against then he would do well instead to moderate the words and behavior of Ministers (e.g. Aburizal “the-flood-victims-are-still-laughing”) and politicians (e.g. Yahya I-have-small-assets-that-are-videoed-by-a-dangdut-singer Zaini).

The Republik guys are not taking it laying down though. Effendi Gazali, the brains behind the show that is aired over Metro TV  told The Jakarta Post: “So what’s the fuss? Why doesn’t the Minister take care of television shows that promote violence and the supernatural, which are true purveyors of bad taste?”

Effendi has a point, Sofyan Djalil should cultivate a thicker skin or get out of politics.

Nothing so gratifying…

…as when your efforts are being appreciated.

The gang at Maverick, the PR consultancy where Unspun works has for the past two year been putting their money where their mouths are in the field of Corporate Social Leadership.

Hang on, you say, shouldn’t it be Corporate Social Responsibility? Well, since the guys at Maverick are mavericks, they believe in questioning conventional wisdom. Doing that they hold that the “responsibility” in CSR is a bit of a bother since “responsibility” implies something you’re obliged to do, whether you believe in it or not. Many companies do not believe in their own CSR efforts so they often come across as hokey, even though they pile tons of money into it. Some mining companies come to mind.

Corporate Social Leadership, however, is different (credit to . It is using the assets you have as a company – such as your expertise, customer insight, ability to make decisions faster than government or civil society, money, location etc – to affect positive change in society. In Maverick, the guys have decided that their CSL program will be all about using the skills and knowledge of PR consultants to empower NGOs with media handling skills, i.e. how to talk to the media so that it is concise, short and memorable, what to say, what not to say etc etc.

They’ve been at it for two years and apart from adopting Mitra Netra last year, and Kelola for the Arts and Center for Better Education, for a 10-month course on how to do their own PR, have been media training about 15 other NGOs.

Today was very gratifying as one of the participants was so taken up with the training yesterday, he decided to show his appreciation by blogging about it in his organization’s blog Solidaritas Kebersamaan. Now if the Mavericks can only convince Corporate Indonesia to abandon their silly CSR initiatives and move into CSL instead…

The enigmatic National Disaster Management Board

Given the track record of how this government handles, some would say mishandles,  information during disasters and crises (such as the missing Adam Air Flight KI 574) the question that must be asked is:

Just what actually does the National Disaster Management Board do?

 The last time Unspun spoke to anyone senior on the board was just after the Government mishandled the communications in the aftermath of the Aceh Tsunami. It was at a panel discussion organized by the business magazine SWA and Unspun‘s alter ego was invited to provide some input about crisis management practices.

What emerged during the discussion was an expose of what a joke the board was. Some of the officials would only speak off record and the picture that emerged is that the board is severely underfunded to do the correct things. Education to children of what to do on receiving an earthquake warning, for instance, received some silly amount like Rp 500 million per year. And that is for a national awareness program.

It was a long time ago (in 2005) so Unspun does not remember the details but impressions carved indelibly into Unspun’s mind were that:

  • The board was politicised so decision making is a joke
  • There has been no drill on what to do during an emergency
  • Officials then were more interested in the projects coming up in Aceh rather than how to handle the immediate problems

Unspun is sure that things have improved at the board since then, although the board is still headed by the same person – Vice President Jusuf Kalla. Kalla is now facing the heat for the board’s perceived inadequacies in helping the relatives of the passengers of the missing Flight KI 574.

But really, what does the National Disaster Emergency Board do? Are they supposed to move in during aviation incidents? maritime incidents such as ferry sinkings? If so what is their mandate? What are they doing about KI 574 and the ferry victims and their families? Are they involved in coordinating the communications in such incidents? if so why the botch up?

Getting these questions answered will help get Indonesia to a higher level of competence in handling disasters and crisis-like situations. Not answering them will help ensure that Indonesia remains in a state of low capacity in handling such incidents.

So where are all the brave, fearless and smart journalists who work to get the information out so that we can all have a better society? The fact that Indonesia has such poor emergency and disaster handling capabilities is one thing that you can do something about?

Yet the mainstream media has so far failed to expose the weaknesses in a system that has caused unnecessary anguish to relatives of KI 574. It is time that the Tempos and Kompasses get off their high horse and do some honest investigative reporting.

Or must us in the blogosphere do your job for you?

Brain teasers for IndoUSAcouples readers

I’ve noticed a lot of interest about the International Physics Olympiad from the Indousacouples website. presumably they are mixing all those DNA between Indonesians and Americans to produce future brainiacs. Information that may help them along is contained in today’s Koran Tempo where Prof. Yohanes Surya discusses the questions posed at the Olympiad in Singapore recently. I think you need to subscribe to the web service to read it though. Good luck! I have a headache just looking at the questions.

The brain behind the brains

Indonesia has just won four golds and one silver at the 37th International Physics Olympiad in Singapore. One of the students was also the Absolute Winner at the Olympiad. In short Indonesia has the best young minds in physics in the world.

Prof. Yahanes SuryaThe man behind this feat of intellectual conquest is Prof. Johannes Surya, a bespectacled, unassuming character who’s been helping to catapault Indonesia to the top of intellectual contests.

I caught up with the Prof at a lunch hosted by the Moodys today at Four Seasons Apartment, to welcome back the Olympiad team and to say thank you to the team for doing Indonesia proud.

What he had to say is both intriguing, inspirational and sad at the same time. There are, apparently as many as 15 million young Indonesians with IQs of 150 and above. For some reason most of these students are not from Jakarta. In the past the Prof has found them in Maluku, Papua and Central Jawa.

Once he finds them he gets them to Jakarta and trains them. The training program is, literally, Olympian. Together with an ex Olympiad participant, Andhika, who’s had the rare Continue reading “The brain behind the brains”

Bringing Peace to the Classrooms

I wrote this when I was correspondent for the Asia Times on 17 January 1997. It looks like things haven’t changed much since then, although the violencein schools seems to have abated, or is going unreported.

JAKARTA – In a country where government officials are viewed dimly for their lack of initiative, fear of upsetting others and being wrong, headmaster Asrul Chatib stands out as an exception.”He’s good,” said the parent of a student at SMU 3 (Sekolah Menegah Utama or Lower Secondary School) where Asrul is now posted.

“He managed to reduce the fighting at SMA 70, which was notorious for its student brawls. He also managed to improve the school’s performance ranking, [rising] from 40 something to one of the best 10 in Jakarta in the four years he was there,” said the parent.

“To understand student violence, you have to look at the background of the students,” said Asrul in an interview at his well-worn but neat office at the Kuningan suburb of Jakarta. “You have to look at the background of the students.

“For a start, there is only a minority of students who are really into violence. Many of them come from broken homes and poor families. They see no future.”

To compound matters, they then attend schools which are often rundown, congested and low in morale, like SMA 70. “When I first got there, there were fights almost every day,” Asrul said.

That was when he set out with his three-step plan to reduce the incidence of violence in the school and improve its academic performance.

“The first step was to improve the environment of the school. Students cannot have any pride in their school or study well when the school environment is not conducive,” he said.

The first thing he did was raise funds to put the school into shape. “I wrote to the Parent-Teacher Association and asked them for money.” The association agreed and with the infusion of 220 million rupiah (about US$93,000) Asrul gave the school a new coat of paint, made repairs, improved the ventilation in the classrooms and even paved the bathroom with tiles.

The next step was to improve the morale and welfare of the teachers, many of whom were underpaid. This took the form of providing them with subsidized meals. He also spent a lot of time improving communication between himself and the teachers.

With the first two steps in place, Asrul set about implementing discipline among teachers and students. “This could be implemented only after a sense of pride has been instilled in their school.”

Penalties were introduced for wrongdoing and Asrul made sure they were implemented. A series of punishments which ranged from warnings, informing parents, one and two-week suspensions and expulsions and caning, the last two as a last resort, were instituted.

“The students had to learn that there were rules and if these were broken then they would have to face the consequences,” Asrul said.

The strategy worked and within four years the incidence of violence in the school had dropped to perhaps once a month. Even then it was small-scale violence.

Asrul said that the important factor in his strategy was in instilling a sense of pride and belonging to the school among the teachers and students. With this came self-respect and a sense of purpose for the students, especially those who could not see a way out before.

He also said that it was important to be honest when trying to solicit donations from parents. “If they can see that the money is well spent they would not hesitate to contribute to the well-being of the school.”

To assure parents that all the donations were accounted for, Asrul issued a financial report to the Parent-Teacher Association every semester. Asrul said many of his peers were afraid of imposing discipline in their schools for fear of reprisals from parents and making a mistake. “But if we do exactly as we say we would do, then there is nothing to be afraid of,” he said.