Indonesia Anonymus

We are a group of Indonesians, ranting about our beloved country. This blog is a result of many people grumbling about many things in many ways.
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Anonymus is the Latin word for anonymous, the correct English spelling. The Latin spelling, however, is traditionally used by scholars in the humanities to refer to an ancient writer whose name is not known, or to a manuscript of their work. Read more at Wikipedia.

Our blog in Bahasa Indonesia (but rarely updated) can be found here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Don't know much about geography

Heard about The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study yet [1]?
It's a survey of 18-to-24-year-old Americans, on their geography knowledge.

Some of the findings below:

  • Six in ten (63%) cannot find Iraq or Saudi Arabia on a map of the Middle East

  • 75% cannot find Iran and Israel

  • Nine in ten (88%) cannot find Afghanistan on a map of Asia

  • 20% place Sudan in Asia and 10% put it in Europe

  • 50% cannot find New York State

Well, well, well. How about that. Can't find New York state?
And we love how they thought Sudan is in Europe.

But wait before we laugh at them. How about young Indonesians?
Well, we cannot interview 510 young people like what National Geographic did, but just now 10 students from a university in Jakarta came for a visit. They are organizing a cultural event and would like us to be their sponsor.
Great. Time for our silly little experiment. We asked one colleague to do a quick survey.

The result:

  • Four in ten think Semarang is in East Java.

  • Three in ten think Makassar and Ujung Pandang are two different cities

  • Six in ten think Balikpapan is in Sumatra

  • Nobody has the faintest idea where Palangkaraya is...

That is just pathetic. They are doing slightly better on the world map, but not enough to cheer us up.

We refused to sponsor their event.

[1] National Geographic News - Young Americans Geographically Illiterate, Survey Suggests


Blogger Ujang said...

Can you please tell us about the gender breakdown of the 10 students? I might get in trouble like Larry Summers for asking this question, but that National Geographic report says male perform better than female in their survey.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Dodol Surodol said...

Serius? Kayaknya aneh deh kalo ada mahasiswa/i yang ampe nggak tau Semarang di mana.

Kalo boleh tau, pertanyaan persisnya giman man? Kali pada ngira itu pertanyaan jebakan.

Kalo ada yang nanya gua, "Lembang ada di mana hayo?" ada kemungkinan gua bakal jawab, "Hmm, di Menteng?"

7:50 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

there were 6 girls and 4 boys in the group. But unfortunately that's as far as we can tell you. It's a (quickly-assembled) written survey, and we didn't mark the paper so we don't know which gender answered what.

dodol surodol (interesting choice in pseudoname, btw),

the question was:
"Kota Semarang terletak di propinsi mana?"
Initially we thought this was a really really bad survey question: we thought everybody will get it right.
Well, what do you know.

To be fair, 6 out of 10 got it right. That's 60%.

Of course like in any survey, there is always a chance that some of them didn't take this seriously. Being kids and all.

But hey. They came to get money from us. The least they can do is be serious.

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's sad to know really. whatever happened to the geography lesson in elementary school? i remember i used to get assignments to draw maps of every island in indonesia and mark the correct cities in all of them, at least the major cities. i don't see kids doing that these days.. do they?
it did help me learn my geography for sure.

at least good enough to answer all the questions in your quick survey correctly. :)

10:31 PM  
Blogger Dodol Surodol said...

Gua mau ngaku bahwa gua cuma tau Palangkaraya itu di Kalimantan. Nggak tau ada di provinsi mana.

BTW, mau minta disponsorin aja kok pake bersepuluh ya? Ini pasti gara-gara sistem pendidikan kita yang dari kecil udah menanamkan bahwa angka sepuluh itu sempurna, ulangan kalo bisa dapet sepuluh.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

palangkaraya is in malaysia no?
and i'm pretty sure Balikpapan was in Sumatra, but the couldn't stand it being so close to [someotherplace] or something and so they moved to Kalimantan. They're not completely wrong.

i wrote about this a while ago - the NatGeo survey not the Balikpapan movement - don't you think it's kinda scary that these people are marching nuclear weapon around the place trying to find Iran? what happened if they bombed the wrong place?

well... i know, they do that all the time, too.

don't mind me, i'm a student.
*back to lurk mode*

11:35 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

Slesta, yes, it is sad.
And no, don't think kids these days do that anymore. We know our kids certainly don't.

dodol surodol,
It's more the 'safety in numbers' mentality. The whole 'panitia' was there.

Goofing off as always.
happy 2 year anniversary of your blog btw.

2:21 AM  
Blogger Nad said...

i found this interesting, yet you got me also wondering:

what's wrong with being geographically challenged? aren't we all so to some degree?

*continue wondering*

4:03 PM  
Blogger Jakartass said...

Geographically challenged ~about your own country ??

Come on! There are ongoing problems in several provinces, much of it related to ethnic and/or cultural biases. Is it too much to ask that the citizens of a country which preaches Unity In Diversity displays a little awareness of that diversity?

I'm afraid that I didn't know where Palangkaraya is ~ 'Er Indoors tells me that it's in Kalimanatan. The others were a doddle.

May I presume that these university students are studying economics or something related to the 'globalisation era'?

Sadly, there's so little curiosity among the younger generation and it really pisses me off that I'm beginning to sound like and possibly be the old fart they describe me as.

Bah humbug.

BTW. How come I feel I have to comment every time you post something?

10:01 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

we have to admit, we may have taken it a bit too personally.


I'm beginning to sound like and possibly be the old fart they describe me as...

Funny you should say that. We felt the same way.
Or maybe worse. We're getting so old we feel we are running out of time.
Soon we will leave all that we have worked for to our kids, who can't tell left from right and can't find way home without a GPS...

By the way, so that it is clear, Palangkaraya is the capital city of Central Kalimantan..

3:36 PM  
Blogger Ujang said...

Jakartass, as someone who was a university student studying economics at some point, I took offense with your characterization ;-)

We study indonesian geography in elementary school, grade 4-6. The teachers would show us a map of Indonesia with provinces' capitals and big cities marked with circles and we should be able to name them. The toughest ones were Malang, Madiun, because they're not capitals. Palangkaraya is a giveaway, smack dab in the middle of Kalimantan. Tarakan is much tougher.

It's called "peta buta". More like a game than a lesson for us.

So I suspect it's more of a cohort thing. Maybe they don't do "peta buta" anymore for the attention-span-challenged generation.

I think I've just offended the younger cohorts.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People often slag American's off about their geography knowledge - but at least the non-Americans I know have a terrible idea of where stuff is in the US.

2:08 AM  
Blogger plainplane said...

I know a woman who travelled to China from England and thought she had to go back to England to take a flight to go to Indonesia because she thought England is somewhere between China and Indonesia.
By the time I heard the story from her, she has a master degree and is a lecturer at ITB. She was taking master degree in England, but she didn't know where China and England is.
Me, myself.. never been out of Indonesia, I can tell where a province is, but don't ask me about the capital city, especially East part of Indonesia. I'm still trying to memorize West Java map through Google Earth and to get to know more of my hometown Bandung.
I remember the map drawing assignment, my mother thaught me how to do it the right way using scale grids. I was the best in class thanks to my mother, but I still can't remember the capital city for NTT and NTB. I will have to google it.

6:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I was travelling by bus in the USA some time ago. I told the teenager next to me that I came from Australia and she said "What, you came all that way by bus?".
I laughed for a week! I do think I am fortunate coming from a country where we allow course but
Dear Anonymous (American?), remember that we are communicating in English, Indonesian. They know a LOT more about USA geography and culture than Americans (assume you really mean USA) do about Indonesia. But thanks for your opinion mate, our different perspectives make these discussions so interesting.

10:15 PM  

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