Protecting Heritage Languages amid Globalisation in Indonesia (Part 3)

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Written by Linda Koswara, interfaith activist

In order to make all the government’s programs in heritage languages preservation to be successful, the supports from all parties related are needed—either it is from education sectors or the people themselves. Supporting what the Indonesian government had done, additional efforts below can be considered in protecting Indonesian heritage languages.

  1. Collaboration with Universities and Schools

To build awareness in preserving the heritage languages among the public, establish collaboration between authorised parties is needed. First thing first, the central government together with the local government could visit local universities which offer courses in heritage languages and education through, for example, Faculty of Cultural Sciences or Faculty of Education.

An open dialogue between the government and authorised persons in universities, such as Rector/Chancellor and related person in charge/lecturers should be conducted. By providing data, research, and prediction about the future of heritage languages, some programs need to be created.

The programs could be (1) final-year students teacher-training, (2) availability of employments in local schools so that the graduates can go straight into working, and/or (3) equitable distribution of the graduates in local schools which lack heritage languages teacher.

If the collaboration agreement includes programs in number 2 and/or 3, then the collaboration must be expanded into local schools. Collaboration must be mutually beneficial to all parties involved. This kind of collaboration would benefit the central and local government in boosting the local tourism as well as conserving local tradition through heritage languages.

At the same time, it would benefit the universities through teacher training that would be given to their final-year students. The universities will not leave the graduates unemployment. Instead, the government will provide them with places for work right away after graduation. The schools would also gain benefit from this collaboration; by having a qualified teacher as one of the teaching-staffs would indeed boost the schools’ reputation.

  1. Teachers Welfare and Development

One of many other things that should be considered by the government after carrying out the collaboration is the teachers’ welfare and development. This is one of the obstacles that arise in South Sulawesi during the program implementation. To prevent this problem from happening, it must be ensured that these language teachers get their financial right as equal to other teachers. While the administration processes are being solved between policies makers in central government, local government can take the initiative by giving the teachers incentives, for instance.

If possible, the incentives budget can be obtained from government revenue in the local tourism sector. For the teachers’ development, advanced training should be conducted at least once a year to keep them well-updated with the latest research in their field.

Another thing that could be done is the involvement of the teachers in national cultural events. Invite them to conduct research based on their teaching experience and give them the opportunity to present their papers in the event.

Not only the paper presentation will give them another incentive, but also the finding in their research could give the central government insights in policies making or curriculum development, especially those that are related to heritage language conservation.

  1. Introduce Indonesian Tradition and Culture to Students since Their First Grade of School

In the curriculum planning, it should be agreed upon that the students in their first grade would be offered local and national knowledge in class activity. Not only the students will learn philosophies and values behind Indonesian culture and tradition, they will also learn to get used to speak a heritage language in the academic environment.

The use of heritage languages in daily conversation is actually already become a habit in schools that are located in rural areas. Nevertheless, it is assumed that the use of language is only a habit, not a pride towards their own culture. Head of Protection, Development and Protection Centre, Language Agency, Ganjar Harimansyah, argued that the use of heritage languages often assumed as outdated by the speakers.

It lacks prestige, mainly because foreign languages are increasingly in demand by the younger generation (Pikiran Rakyat, 2020). In order to grow the pride among the students, it is necessary to introduce them to their own identity as early as possible.

Ganjar Harimansyah later suggests the introduction to the culture through the use of heritage languages should be started from family. It could be through arts, music, traditional games, songs, and/or any other cultural products.

Baca juga: Protecting Heritage Languages amid Globalisation in Indonesia (Part 2)

  1. Involve Private Sectors and Voluntary Organisation

The trend of joining voluntary organisation among Indonesian people is growing. Based on data from Gallup, which took more than 150.000 respondents from 146 countries in 2017, it is said that Indonesia accounts for 53% of the percentage of volunteers worldwide.

This figure is the highest in the world compare to other countries with large populations such as the United States (39%) and China (7%) (Good News From Indonesia, 2019). Indorelawan, a volunteering activity platform in Indonesia records that there are already 2.531 volunteering organisations scattered throughout the country, which most of them are engaged in community development (Indorelawan, 2019). Looking at this data, the government could utilise this trend to involve some organisations to make a project related to heritage language preservation.

The role of the organisations here is to invite younger generations to get to know more about the culture of Indonesia. There are a lot of Indonesian different forms of arts that could be showed in the project. The project could also be taken into another level, such as creating heritage languages children books, seminar or workshop that is conducted in heritage languages, and/or creating a software for language documentation.

  1. Educate the Public

The public is one important key in order to make a policy to be well implemented in a country. In the language preservation case, there are some groups of people that need to be involved; children, youth, and parents. Besides being taught at schools, the children can also be educated through other ways.

For example television programs and/or children books. Creating a TV program and/or a book for children that is conducted in heritage languages with Indonesian culture theme would foster a spirit of nationalism early on. Both are created to grow a sense of pride of their own culture and their identity recognition.

For the youth, a social media campaign could be utilised to promote the preservation programs as around 70% of the youth are online (International Telecommunication Union, 2017). The campaign must show how heritage languages could symbolise prestige.

It also needs to be emphasised that it is a privileged to be part of a nation with diverse cultures and tradition because there are so much to be learned from them. To educate the parents, a seminar and/or workshop can be conducted.

In the workshop and seminar, show the parents what the advantages that their children will get in the future by learning heritage languages since the beginning of their children live are. The presenter could talk about the advantages of diversities or issues in identity.


In the era of globalisation, heritage language preservation is crucially needed in Indonesia. The youth generation has shown their enthusiasm for English language learning instead of heritage languages learning because it benefits them economically.

The Indonesian heritage languages should be protected in the middle of English influence in order to conserve our identity and culture.

There are five points in this essay to be considered in order to support the Indonesian government’s plan to protect heritage languages; establish collaboration with education sectors, pay attention to the language teachers’ welfare, introduce the heritage languages to students as early as possible, involve voluntary organisations to make cultural preservation projects, and educate the public.

Indonesia has hundreds of heritage languages.

The people should realise that they are privileged by being a citizen in a prosperous nation. This essay is not written to make the people avoid to use or learn English language. It is more trying to support the “prioritise Indonesian language, master English language, preserve heritage languages” government campaign.

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