Military Program Set to Replace Student Orientation on Campuses

The government plans to replace student orientation at universities with a military-run program, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said on Monday (17/04).

The minister initiated the program, called “Bela Negara” (“Defend the Nation”), last year to instill patriotism among the youth and shield them from foreign influences, which he said at the time included radicalization, terrorism and drugs.

The new program for university freshmen would include outside classroom activities as well as field-marching and first-aid training. The classroom activity would instill the values of Pancasila and aim to instill in students a culture that opposes corruption and radicalism.

Studies by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) in 2011 and Islamic think-tank, the Maarif Institute in 2013, found growing support on many of the country’s campuses for the establishment of an Islamic state in Indonesia.

The current student orientation program, known as ospek, has also been marred by violence. Almost every year, there are media reports of freshmen who are severely injured, or even killed, during orientation. These activities serve as a pretext for violent bullying by senior students eager to repeat the treatment they received during their orientation.

Ryamizard said he has discussed the plan with Research Technology and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir and also received the blessing of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to move forward with the plan.


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