Leading Multicultural Schools in Indonesia

Leading Multicultural Schools in Indonesia

Cultural and ethnical diversity exist in Indonesian school environment these day due to massive increase of people’s migration has been presenting some challenges to students, teachers, and school leaders. The people’s simultaneous movement gives an affect to school settings, which make students and educators population become multicultural/multi-ethnic. Unlike several years ago, current challenges on pluralism in Indonesia come not only from the existence of several different religions that have been regulated in Indonesia constitution but also the existence of hundreds of multi-ethnic communities and the massive urbanization to the Java Island. The school is one of the particular places that face the challenges of the existence of multi-ethnic populations. Schools should be the place that is able to address all the challenges in order to embrace the diversity of its members. To live in a diverse school community, a school leader that has such high level of tolerance, understanding of difference ethnic and mutual respect is urgently required. In line to the school context, the best way to achieve tolerance, understanding and mutual respect is through education. It is become important for a school leader to tackle down the multi-ethnic challenges in order to effectively lead their organization and be able to unify all differences embraced by students, teachers, and staff members. The awareness of multi-ethnical and multicultural aspect within school is important to make school environment more flexible to changes. Multi-ethnic instruction in school setting is needed because school is one of many places that people from any ethnic and cultural background can interact to one another on a regular basis. However, in Indonesia particularly in school context the issues of multi-ethnic has not been very popular and school leaders often have difficulties tackling down all challenges. Racism and intolerance are some of the threats that disturb the harmony in Indonesia. It is crucial that education stakeholders pay attention to understand and accept other ethnics in order to maintain a harmonious school environment. School’s diversity awareness and school leaders’ competency in facing a multi-ethnic existence in school becomes very important to sustain success. Related to the increase of multi-ethnic student populations, it is necessary that schools apply cultural competency and awareness in teaching and learning instructions such as in lesson plans, assessment, and classroom environment.

A school is an institution that can be used to enhance the understanding of multi-ethnic settings and also mutual relations among ethnical differences based on the students’ diversity. A school that comprises of diverse ethnic populations can be used as a platform in learning about tolerance, social justice and equality, which will give valuable instructional experiences to students and teachers. However, these experiences also require an inclusive approach involving school leaders. The effect of people’s migration makes schools in Indonesia particularly in Java Island become more multi-ethnic and thus form a multi-ethnic school. This type of school often consists of students from a different ethnic group such as Javanese, Sundanese, Chinese, Arabs, Indians, and hundreds of other ethnic minorities. In their research in Indonesia, Irwanto, Ramsey and Ryan (2011) asserted that Javanese culture which is located in Java Island where the ethnic majority in Indonesia resides, influences successful harmony management with other hundreds of minor ethnicities in Indonesia. In school context, the ethnic diversity in the school requires an effective leadership that is able to fulfil the need of students and teachers from various ethnicity and cultures. The presence of ethnic diversity in Indonesian school classrooms these day provides tremendous challenges not only for teachers but also for school leaders. Living in a diverse school community requires school leaders that can view students and teachers who may be very different in terms of ethnicity and beliefs. Therefore, in order to attain success, school leaders need to improve themselves and explore all the aspects that can be used to lead effectively in multi-ethnic settings. In Indonesia. school leaders’ attempts in leading a multi-ethnic school is quite promising. However, it is important that the school leaders address challenges within multi-ethnic schools that can directly affect students and it is also crucial for them to handle the challenges that have been penetrated in schools for periods of time.

*Irwanto, W, Ramsey P, L, and Ryan J,C. (2011) Tailoring LeadershipTheory to Indonesian Culture. Singapore: SAGE publication.

author: Yoni Nurdiansyah

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