BOGOR, Indonesia – As the world’s top palm oil producer, Indonesia has come under continuous attack over its palm oil industry, and it could use Indonesian scholarships as a tool to gain allies and friends in Europe and America, where the criticism is mostly coming from, an academic is arguing.
“Actually, it has already been quite some time since I have proposed that the Palm Oil Fund, which is quite substantial, through its education funding, should provide the scholarship to Caucasians from Europe and America. That would be an investment for us,” Vice Chancellor of the Bogor Institute of Agriculture Dodik Ridho Nurrochmat told a workshop on palm oil here on March 14, 2018.
He said that it is hoped that the provision of such scholarship would enable the country to later gain friends and partners in Europe and the United States.
The two regions, are major markets for Indonesian palm oil but are also now scaling down, if not planning to halt, their imports of the commodity from here or to slap higher import duties, citing concerns in the environment, respect for human rights or unfair trade practice.
“If we give them the Indonesian scholarships, maybe in ten to twenty years, they will become our partner, our friends, who will together with us, fight to defend the interests of Indonesia,” Nurrochmat said.
So far, Indonesian scholarships under the Partnership between Developing Countries scheme but is providing none to students from advanced countries.
He said that the mindset needed to change and that providing Indonesian scholarship should not only be limited to students from developing or underdeveloped countries only, but also to potential students from Europe and the United States.
“Investment needs to be made on people like these. Good investments are those who have good prospects,” Nurrochmat said.
He said that there were foreign students from Europe and the United States preparing their thesis in Indonesia, but they were all funded from abroad, not funded by Indonesia. Such students, he said, would feel hey owed nothing to Indonesia, even though they do receive facilities from the country in their study here.
“It should not be that we facilitate them with venues and other things, but the content (of their papers) is attacking us,” he said.
However he warned that provision of Indonesian scholarship to students from advanced countries needed adjustment too and should be worth the same as for students from developing countries studying here,
He said no one would be interested in a scholarship of just $200-250. “It must be the same as what we pay for students studying overseas.”
Nurrochmat said that Indonesia could change the views of these scholarship recipients just as other scholarship donors influenced Indonesian studying in their country.
“They should also be ‘washed.” It should not just be us who gets ‘washed’,” he said.