The Importance of Character Education for the Betterment of Our Nation

An interesting news came from Yogyakarta. As reported on krjogja.com (2015), SMP N 8 Yogyakarta held a music competency test through an ensemble performance. Why choosing the ensemble? According to the Headmaster, the school wanted to deliver the character education through music. He adds that music ensembles contained politeness, discipline, and togetherness. The songs that were performed are chosen based on the lyrics which contains character education.

The news shows that in Indonesia character education has been implemented in the learning process. According to the Ministry of Culture (cited from kemendikbud.go.id., 2011), there are 18 values to be inserted into the education process in Indonesia. The 18 values are religiousness, honesty, toleration, discipline, hard work, creative, independence, democratic, curiousness, nationalism, patriotism, appreciation, communicative and friendly, peace-loving, keen of reading, environmentally savvy, social care, and responsibility.

The character education is the process of character building that positively affects the development of a person’s emotion, spirituality, and personality. Therefore, character or moral education is an important part in building a nation’s identity. As stated by the Rector of Atma Jaya University, Yogyakarta (UAJY), Dr. D. Maryatmo MA (on okezone.com, 2014), the emotional, spiritual and personality intelligence is important in building a strong, independent, active, creative, and highly-dedicated character.

Suratno MSi, a lecture in Paramadina University, Jakarta, mentioned (on tribunnews.com, 2014) that the term “character education”, appeared at the end of the 18th century, was coined by a German pedagogue, FW Foerster (1869-1966). According to Foerster, character education includes: 1) emphasizing that every action is measured by normative values. The students respect the existing norms; 2) building self-confidence therefore each student has a firm personality and is not afraid of new situations, 3) autonomy, each student internalizes and manifests the external rules to be his/her own values, and 4) determination which refers to one’s endurance in realizing what is considered good and loyalty to his/her commitment.

The Ministry of Education and Culture is imposing several strategies to maximize the implementation of the character education, such as by strengthening the guidelines. Another step is to accommodate the institutions that have conducted the character education in spite of using different terms, and to support the existing activities at school (cited from kompas.com, 2013).

As a matter of fact, it takes a big and strategic steps towards a nation of character, since the character education is very important to support the building of a nation. President Ir. Soekarno said, “There is no nation-building without character-building”. It shows how important the character or moral education in building a nation’s identity is.