1The Urgency of National Character Building in ASEANEconomic Community EraH. M. Tauchid Noor1, Supriyanto2, Ida Nuryana3Abstract: 100 kataNational eduction aims to develop capabilities, character building and national civilization. Thisindicates that the quality of character building in Indonesia needs to be improved, particularly tocompete with regional societies in ASEAN Economic Community. Some characters such as being honest,discipline, hard-work, creative, independent, and appreciating for achievements are fundamental todevelop in education for the realization of ASEAN Economic Community. Therefore, some countries suchas United States, Japan, China, Korea, and other economic-developed countries have applied characterbuilding in their education system.Keywords: Education, ASEAN, Character, Community, Economy.JEL Classification:1 Professor in Law. Kanjuruhan University2 Associate Proffesor. Kanjuruhan University3 Lecturer of Economics and Business. Kanjuruhan University21. IntroductionAs a part of regional yet global society, Indonesia needs to develop its civilization. Themost dominant issue in both global and regional societies is the development of qualityof human resources. In particular to regional context, Indonesia is one that needs to bemore seriously aware and ready to compete in ASEAN Economic Community. It needsadequate and qualified human resources as the primary means of its development. Inorder to do so, education plays a very important role. It is consistent with Law No. 20/2003 on National Education System, particularly to Article 3 that “national educationfunctions to develop capabilities, characters, and civilization for the sake of students’development on their potentials as devout, noble, healthy, intelligent, capable, creative,and independent mankinds and as democratic and responsible citizens.”According to the functions and the purposes of national education, it is clear thateducation, of each grade, must be systematically organized in order to realize thosepurposes. It relates to students’ character building which makes them capable tocompete, behave, and have good moral and respectful, and interact to one another.These functions and purposes of national education are consistent with our needs tocompete regionally in ASEAN Community.An individual’s success is not solely due to his/her cognitive and technical skills (hardskills), but also his/her capability to manage themselves and other people (soft skills).This study showed that hard skills only played 20% role for success, while theremaining 80% came from soft skills (Goleman, 1996). Moreover, the world’s mostsuccessful people reached their success due to their soft skills, instead of their hardskills. It indicates that the quality of students’ character building needs to be improved,particularly to encounter a regional competition in ASEAN Economic Community.2. ASEAN Economic CommunityASEAN is an association of South East countries that consists of 10 countries(Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam,Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia), has open perspectives, lives in piece, good stability,and prosperity, and gets engaged in a dynamic development. Thus, in 2003, the leadersof ASEAN agreed to establish an “ASEAN Community” by 2020. On its development,the leaders of the member countries asserted their commitment and decided toaccelerate the establishment of ASEAN Community by 2015 (Huda, 2015, 48).The establishment of ASEAN Community 2015 is based on 3 pillars, including ASEANSecurity Community (ASC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEANSocio-Cultural Community (ASCC). ASEAN Economic Community 2015 would bedirected onto the development of regional economic integration by cutting down thecost of commercial transactions, improving facilities of commerce and business, andincreasing competitiveness in MSMEs.3The establishment of AEC 2015 aimed to create a single market and a stable,prosperous, and highly competitive production base with economic integration to aneffective regulation for commerce and investments, having free flows of traffics withinfor goods, services, investments, and capital, and businessmen and workers are free tomove.The implementation of AEC 2015 focuses on 12 prioritiy sectors, including 7 sectors ofgoods (agricultures, electronics, automotives, fisheries, rubber-based industries, timberbasedindustries, and textiles) and 5 sectors of services (air transportation, healthservices tourisms, logistics, and technology of information or e-ASEAN).Education in Indonesia needs to provide qualified human resources to get ready forchallenges in the future. Based on Presidential Instruction No. 6/ 2014 on TheImprovement of National Competitiveness to Encounter ASEAN EconomicCommunity, the government asserts that the development of Indonesia human resourcesneeds to focus on improving the competitiveness of the human resources along withtheir competences and productivities (Kementerian Sekretariat negara, 2015). In order toimprove their competitiveness and competences, character building is considerednecessary.Recently, Indonesia has 12 priority sectors in commerce of goods and services proposedas superior in ASEAN global market or ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015.Those 12 sectors include eight sectors of goods commerce and four sectors of servicecommerce. The sectors of goods coomerce involve agricultures, fisheries, rubber-basedindustries, textiles and garment, automotives, electronics, and technology of informationand communication. The four sectors of service commerce involve health service,tourisms, air transportation, and logistics. For health service, it is classified into threesub-sectors including general medicine, dentistry, and nursing.Furthermore, competitive human resources in AEC involve (1) medical staff e.g.,doctors and medicines; (2) nurses; (3) professional staff of architecture andengineering; (4) dentists; (5) accountants; (6) surveyors; and (7) tourisms.3. Character BuildingCharacter is individual’s behavioral values in relation to God, self, others, surroundings,and nation, and it manifests on mindset, attitudes, emotions, statements, and behaviorsbased on religion, norms, law, culture, and custom (Sumodiningrat, 2009).In order to improve the conformity and quality of character building, the Minitry ofNational Education develops a grand design of character building for each line, grade,and kinds of education. The grand design is a conceptual and operational reference todevelop, implement, and assess each line and grade of education. The configuration ofcharacters in the entire pshycological and socio-cultural processes is classified into:spiritual and emotional development, intellectual development, physical and kinestheticdevelopment, and affective and creative development. The development and theimplementation of character building needs to refer to that grand design as well.4Based on Act No. 20/ 2003 on National Education System at article 13 subsection (1)mentions that the line of education consists of formal, non-formal, and informaleducations and they may complement to one another. Informal education is a line ofeducation coming from family and surroundings. It has an important contribution to thesuccessfulness of education. Students enrolling a formal education only have 7 hours forstudying per day, or less than 30% of time they have each day. The remaining time(70%) they have is with their family and surroundings. Looking into the quantity oftime, education in school only gives 30% contribution to students’ learning outcomes.All this time, informal education, particularly to ones coming from family, has not fullybrought any significant contribution to students’ competence and character building.Parrents’ high working activities and lacks of understanding on how to educate theirchildren at home, social intercourses from surroundings, and electronic media may givenegative influence on students’ development and learning outcomes. One alternative tosolve that problem is through an integrated character building; integrating andoptimizing the activities of informal education at home with formal education in school.In this case, the learning time in school should be optimized to reach the expectedlearning outcomes, particularly for students’ character building.Character building can be integrated into each subject matter and course. The subjectmatter that relates to norms and values on each course should be developed, explisitlydescribed, and linked to everyday context of life. Hence, learning the values of characterdoes not only relate to cognitive aspect, but also internalization and students’ realexperience with surroundings in their everyday life.Extracurriculars organized all this time are potential media to develop students’characters and academic. Extracurriculars are educational activities outside the classhours in order to develop students’ skills based on their needs, potential, talents, andinterest through specific activities organized by teachers or other professionalinstructors. Through extracurricular activities, it is expected to develop students’competence, potential, achievements, and social responsibilities.Character building is also related to management. In this case, management refers toways the character building is planned, implemented, and adequately controlled in eachof educational activities. The intended management involves values to be embedded,content of curriculum, content of learning, assessment, teacher and educational staff,and other related components. Thus, a school management is an effective media forcharacter building.According to Mochtar Buchori (2007), character building should make studentsrecognize values in cognitive manner, comprehend them in affective manner, andimplement them in real context, respectively. Character building aims to improve thequality and the results of educational organization at school, leading to the attainment ofstudents’ good characters and behaviors as a whole, integrated-based, equal, and basedon the predetermined standard of competence.By 2011, each level of education in Indonesia must include character building in theireducational process. According to the Center of Curriculum in the Ministry of National5Education, there are 18 values of character building that should be embedded within,including (Pusat Kurikulum Departemen Pendidikan Nasional, 2010):a. Religiousity: obedient attitudes and behaviors to do the tenet of religion theyfollow, being tolerant to the implementation of other religions, living inharmony with others with different religions.b. Honesty: attitudes and behaviors to be trusted in statements, actions, andoccupations.c. Tolerance: attitudes and behacviors to be respectful toward other religions,races, ethnics, opinions, attitudes, and actions.d. Discipline: obedient attitudes and behaviors toward various rules andregulations.e. Hard work: obedient attitudes and behaviors toward various rules andregulations.f. Creative: Think and do something to create new ways or results from somethingthey have already had.g. Autonomous: attitudes and behavior to be independent from others in solvingtasks.h. Democratic: ways of thinking and behaving that sees their rights and obligationsequal to others.i. Curiosity: attitudes and behaviors attempting to see deeper and more extensivelyon something they learn, see, and hear.j. Soul of Nationality: ways of thinking, behaving, and being insightful whichsees the importance of nations and country as one that more important than theirpersonal or group interests.k. Patriotic: ways of thinking, behaving, and being insightful which sees theimportance of nations and country as one that more important than their personalor group interests.l. Apreciate achievements: attitudes and behviors that encourages themselves to dosomething for society, and recognize and appreciate other’s achievements.m. Friendly/communicative: attitudes and behaviors that encourages themselves todo something for society, and recognize and appreciate other’s achievements.n. Love peace: attitudes and behaviors that encourages themselves to do somethingfor society, and recognize and appreciate other’s achievements.o. Love to read: a habitual action providing time to read various texts that bringgoodness for themeselves.p. Care for environment: attitudes and behaviors attempting to prevent anyenvironmental damages and provide improvements due to natural disasters.q. Care for social: attitudes and behaviors willing to help others with needs.r. Responsible: attitudes and behaviors to do tasks and responsibility, as what theyare supposed to do, toward themselves, society, and environment (nature, social,and culture), nation, and God.Among those 18 characters, some of them including honesty, discipline, hard-working,creative, autonomous/independent, and appreciating achievement are fundamental to bedeveloped in education sector in order to encounter AEC era, and thus, it is a challengeof our education.4. The Urgency of Character Building6Character is a way of thinking and behaving embedded in each individual to live andcooperate, whether in family, society, government or nation. Individuals with goodcharacters are ones capable to make decision and be responsible with it.Character building is a goal of national education. Article 1 on Law of NationalEducatioan System 2003 mentions that one of the purposes of national education is todevelop students’ potentials to be individuals with good intellectuality, personality, andbehavior.The article wants that education in Indonesia does not solely create intellectual peoplebut also ones with good personalities and characters, and laterly, it will create the nextgeneration with noble values of their nation and religion. Education aims to createindividuals with strong characters and intellectuality, as Dr. Martin Luther King saidthat intelligence plus character that is the goal of true education.Understanding Character Building. Character building is a plus education ofcharacter, involving cognition, feeling, and action. Following Thomas Lickona, withoutthose three aspects, character building may not be effective. With a systematical andsustainable attempt of character building, an individual is likely to have emotionalintelligence. This intelliengence is fundamental to make him/her ready for future, sincehe/she is more confident to encounter any challenges of life and reach successfulness onhis/her academic (Williams, 2010).There are nine pillars of character derived from universal noble values. Those are: (1)love God along with all the creatures; (2) independence and responsibility; (3) honestand diplomatic, (4) respectful and good manners; (5) generous, cooperative; (6)confident and hard-workl (7) leadership and fairness; (8) kind and humble; and (9)tolerance, peace, and unity.Those nine characters are systematically taught in a holistic educational model usingknowing the good, feeling the good, and acting the good methods. Knowing the good iseasy to be taught since it is cognitive. Feeling loving the good, dealing with how to feeland love the good, is an engine that makes individuals want to do the good and it maymake them realize that individuals want to do the good since they love doing it. Afterbeing familiar with the good, acting the good may transform into habits.These principles of character building should be implemented since early ages; manypshycologists called it as “golden age” since it is a significant period determiningindividuals’ capabilities to develop their potentials. A study found that almost 50%variabilities of adults’ intelligence had occurred since they were 4 years old. The next30% improvements occurred when they were 8 years old, and the remaning 20%occurred when they were at the middle or the second decade of they age. Thus,character building should begin from family, as the first surrounding that developsindividual’s characters (Character Education Partnership., 2003).However, such systematical process of character building is difficult to do for somefamilies, particularly ones with very busy parents. Therefore, character building shouldbe provided in school, especially since they were in play group teaching. This is whereteachers must play their roles, as a Javanese philosophy “guru digugu lan ditiru” –7teachers are ones to be relied on and modeled from. Hence, teachers are spearheadshaving a face-to-face with students in class.The Impact of Character Building. What is the impact of character building onindividual’s academic successfulness? Some researches revealed to address thisquestion. A summary of some significant findings on this issue is established in abulletin Character Educator, published by Character Education Partnership (Alberta,2005).The bulletin described a finding from Dr. Marvin Berkowitz, the University ofMissoury, St. Louis, that students’ motivation to reach academic achievementsincreased in shools that implement character building. Classes comprehensivelyengaged in character building showed a decreasing on students’ negative behaviorwhich may inhibits their academic successfulness.A literature entitled Emotional Intelligence and School Success compiled variousresearches studying the positive effect of emotional intelligence on students’successfulness in school. It explained that a series of risk factors might make studentsfail in school. Those risk factors, however, are not related to the intelligence of students’brain, but more related to their confidence and capability to cooperate, interact,consentrate, have emphaty, and communicate.This is consistent to Daniel Goleman (2005) about indivdiual’s successfulness insociety. He suggested that 80% of the success is due to emotional intelligence, and theremaining 20% is due to intelligence of brain/IQ. Children who have problems withtheir emotional intelligence may feel difficult to learn, interact and control theiremotion. The symptoms can be seen since they were in pre-school. However, if suchproblem is ignored, it will be carried into adult. Nevertheless, adolescents with strongcharacters may avoid problems which youths commonly encounter such as juveniledelinquency, gang fights, drugs, alcohol, free sex, etc.Some countries implementing character building since elementary grade include: UnitedStates, Japan, China, and Korea. Some studies in those countries showed that thesystematical implementation of character building may bring positive effects onacademic achivements. Along with this socialization of character building, it is expectedfor each school to implement character building in immediate manner, and thus, it maycreate an intellectual generation with strong character based on the noble values ofnation and religion (Direktorat Manajemen Pendidikan Dasar dan Menengah, 2012.6. ConclusionIt is important to reinforce character building in order to provide soft skills so that thegraduates of educational program may compete in AEC. This reinforcement isparticularly an addition to make us more capable and more qualified rather than otherstudents from ASEAN countries. Some characters such as being honest, discipline,hard-work, creative, autonomous, and appreciating achivements are fundamental to bedeveloped in much broader implementation. Therefore, it needs a policy as nationalmovement obligating teachers and lecturers to implement character building in their8curriculum and syllabus, particularly to courses that deal with personality developmentand to any subject matters in elementary and secondary schools as an urgent need.Providing national character building or “education of character” or education ofmorals on students in university is different from students in elementary and/orsecondary grades, particularly to elementary and early schools. Therefore, in addition togovernment’s interference regulating this notion as a compulsory subject in curriculumof elementary school, educational experts are needed to guide the process; instead offormulating a tag line “integrated in curriculum”. With the clear principles of valuesembedded since early ages, Insha Allah, it may reinforce and accelerate our readiness toencounter AEC.References:Alberta Education. 2005. 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Mark and Taylor, Monica J. 2000. “Learning and Teaching about Values: A Review ofRecent Research.” Cambridge Journal of Education. 30(2):169- 202.Huda, Mokhamad, K, et.al., 2015, Harmonizing Competition Law in The Asean Economic Community,International Journal of Business, Economic and Law, 9(4): 48-53.Kelompok Kerja MEA Kemenkop UKM, 2015. Accessed on 18th November 2015. Retrieved fromhttp://www.depkop.go.id/index.php?Kerr, D. 1999. “Citizenship Education in the Curriculum: An International Review,” The School Field.1034.Kirschenbaum, Howard. 2000 .”From Values Clarification to Character Education: A Personal Journey.”The Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development. 39 (1), September: 4-20.Kementerian Sekretariat Negara, 2015 . Inpres Nomor 6 Tahun 2014 tentang peningkatan daya saingnasional dalam rangka menghadapi masyarakat ekonomi ASEAN.Lickona, Thomas. 1991. Educating for Character: How Our schools can teach respect andresponsibility. 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Tauchid NoorPost Graduate Program, University of Kanjuruhan Malang, Indonesia- Proffesor, The Chairman of Post Graduate Program in University of Kanjuruhan Malang.(Jl. S.Supriadi No.48, Bandungrejosari, Sukun, Kota Malang, Jawa Timur 65148, Indonesia; e-mail: t[email protected]).SupriyonoPost Graduate Program, University of Kanjuruhan Malang, Indonesia- Associate Proffesor. (Jl. S.Supriadi No.48, Bandungrejosari, Sukun, Kota Malang, Jawa Timur 65148, Indonesia; e-mail: [email protected]).