It was stated in wise word that “education is the greatest power”. Even in an Islamic teaching, it was stated that “studying is an obligation of every single person”. These teaching were really true, and at least it was in my life.
I was born in a very small village called Tawing in 1949 in the southern part of Java Island. I came from a big family. My father was a farmer in the village. He couldn’t send me for a higher education. Fortunately, I was the first grandchild in my family, so my grandfather sent me to the Institute of Training Teacher in Malang, East Java. After much difficulty, finally I got my bachelor degree in education. Then, I became a teacher in a Teacher Training School, the so called SPG, in Pamekasan, Madura, in 1974.
An event that changed my life was in 1982, when I was still a teacher in the school. At that time, I heard there was a writing competition organized by the Civil Servant Organization in Jakarta. I took part in the competition. Every night for almost a couple of week, I typed pages by pages of material to make a working paper entitled “Improving togetherness among colleagues”. My wife didn’t understand what I was doing at all. She just knew that I always went to bed late every night. “What have you been doing every night?’, she asked me one in a while. I didn’t answer her question anymore.
To my great delight, I received a radio telex from Jakarta that I become one of the top ten winners in the competition. I was very happy. I had to go t Jakarta to received the prize. I had never been to Jakarta before. I went to Jakarta by a train called “Mutiara Selatan”. Yhis was the first time I was traveling, and it was also the first time I was stepping on the biggest city in Indonesia.
After I came to the office of the Indonesia Science Institution in Jakarta, I just found out that I was the first winner in the competition. Then I was brought to the biggest hotel in Jakarta called Wisata International Hotel. This was also the first time for me to stay in a five-star hotel, so I had never used many of sophisticated facilities provided by such hotel. I have many different funny stories to tell my stay in the hotel. However, there is no time to tell them here.
I had to stay for weeks in thus hotel, and was taken around to the important places like National Monument, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, and Ancol Beach. The most important thing was I received a million rupiah as the first prize in the competition. I became a millionaire. The prize was given by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Amir Mahmud.
Because of the cash prize, I was able to pursue my studies in the University of Darul Ulum, Jombang, East Java Province. Step by step I obtained my S1 degree in 1985. My life was improving. In 1989 I was offered to take a masters degree abroad. Even though my English was not very good, I had a good relationship with a professional trainer from the University of Georgia named Prof. M.J. Rice. He worked for the Teacher Training Project in Jakarta. I knew him very well when I took part in training program in Surabaya. Then I sent to the University of Houston, Texas, the USA. I obtained my master degree from the university in 1988. I returned to Indonesia, and was assigned to be a the head of a Subdivision of Monitoring under the Planning Division office in the Directorate General Primary and Secondary Education, Ministry of Education and Culture, in Jakarta. I was not a teacher anymore. The next assignment I received was to come to the Principal of the Indonesian School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1996.
My life is trouble-free at the moment like water. Education and hard work are the two factors that change anyone’s life.
*) Website: www.suparlan.com; E-mail: me [at] suparlan [dot] com.
Kuala Lumpur, August 25, 1998.