Scholar of Sukanto Tanoto’s Philanthropic Organisation at The Centre of Indonesian Education Policy

‘Teladan’ means ‘role model’ in Indonesia. It is also the name of the Tanoto Foundation’s scholarship training programme for the tertiary education of Indonesia’s youth.

The Tanoto Foundation was founded by Indonesian businessman, Sukanto Tanoto and his wife, Tinah Bingei, in 1981. The foundation primarily focuses on improving access to quality education in Indonesia, Singapore, and China, where Sukanto Tanoto has a major business presence.

To date, the foundation has provided over 20,000 scholarships, improved the overall quality of education in schools, and funded medical research into diseases that are prevalent across Asian populations.

According to the Tanoto Foundation, the ‘Teladan Programme’ “aims to produce responsible leaders who are able to face tomorrow’s challenges by offering training in soft skills, internships and apprenticeships, community development programmes, as well as activities which develop collaboration and networking skills”.

Since its establishment in 2006, Teladan has benefitted hundreds of students from Indonesia. However, one of them stands out from the rest. Her name is Astrini Novi Puspita.

A Tanoto Scholar from 2011 to 2015, Puspita majored in Management in the Faculty of Economics and Business at Gadjah Mada University (UGM). She now works at the Papua Desk of the National Development Planning Agency or BAPPENAS as an Education Policy Specialist.

As such, her primary responsibility is fulfilling Presidential Decree No. 9/2017, which states the implementation of a national action plan that would accelerate Papua’s progress in education. This includes monitoring the programme, identifying challenges and reforming policies accordingly.

Puspita’s drive to help Indonesia progress through education stems from a work-study trip she took to Lombok. There, she saw for herself the state of education in the region, which was well below what she had received in her hometown Yogyakarta. During this trip, she also learned that some 1,700 children in West Nusa Tenggara were unable to pursue their elementary or junior high school education.

“From there, I resolved to be involved directly in work which would create solutions to problems in Indonesia” said Puspita.

Puspita’s work at BAPPENAS includes collaborating with stakeholders from ministries and regional governments, a job which she states would be incredibly challenging had she not understood how to collaborate efficiently and work as part of a team. Puspita credits both these skills to the leadership training she received as a Tanoto Scholar.

One other important skill that Puspita attributes to her Tanoto Scholarship is her ability to build networks. “From the time I started studying at UGM, I began building networks with my fellow Tanoto Scholars as well as people I met at the various conferences I attended, she said. “Attending conferences is one of my hobbies, and I find that forming networks tends to lead me to other achievements.”

Puspita’s broad social network has yielded good opportunities for her in the past. In 2015, she was recommended to participate in the Young Leaders of Indonesia Programme. She would eventually become a delegate member of the Australian National University-Indonesia Gifted Researchers Programme.

“These experiences in turn proved to be a useful asset when I joined BAPPENAS,” said Puspita. “Working to create positive change in society has always been something I’ve dreamed about since I started university.”

Puspita cites her work in BAPPENAS as a way of helping Indonesia move forward and aligning herself with the philosophy of the Tanoto Scholars to pass along good deeds to those in need.