Contributor: Maroof Ahmed | Editor: Supriyono
One of the highlights from the first-ever Commencement ceremony of Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia (UIII) on August 31, 2023, was a thought-provoking and visionary speech by Dr. (H.C.) M. Jusuf Kalla, former Vice President of Indonesia, who currently serves as the Chairman of the UIII Board of Trustees.
His words were not just a reflection of the day's significance but also a roadmap for the future of education and the role of UIII in it. Dr. Kalla opened his address by congratulating the graduates, emphasizing that they were the first batch to graduate from UIII.
"This is the first graduation, making you pioneers and the first alumni of this university," he stated, adding that the ceremony was a crucial moment that he could not miss out. "I came straight here from the airport just for my love for this place," he confessed.
Transitioning to the core purpose of UIII, Dr. Kalla highlighted that the university is a state-funded institution aimed at elevating the quality of education. Dr. Kalla also touched upon the importance of language and culture in the educational journey, mentioning that students from abroad are encouraged to learn about Indonesia and its language.
Reflecting on Indonesia's significant Muslim population, Dr. Kalla pointed out that despite being the country with the largest Muslim population, many go abroad to study Islam. Hence, he came up with a critical question: "Why should Indonesians go to other countries to study Islam when we have such rich scholarly resources here?"
Dr. Kalla stressed that UIII was built following the importance of teaching peaceful Islam amidst the context of global conflicts, particularly in Islamic countries. "We should teach Islam in peace that's why we have invested in this high-quality institution," he said.
Moreover, Dr. Kalla emphasized that the curriculum at UIII is not limited to religious studies. "We also offer courses in economics, education, and political science because Islam is not just about the Quran and Hadith," he said, adding that UIII aims to be a melting pot of Western secular and Islamic scholarship by recruiting lecturers graduating from the middle-east and the west.
Looking ahead, Dr. Kalla expressed his vision for the university to have a 50% international student body. "Our goal is for this university to have 50% Indonesian and 50% international students," he stated.
However, towards the end of his address, Dr. Kalla emphasized the focus on quality over quantity in education. "We are not looking for numbers. We are looking for the best quality of education we can offer," he said.
Dr. (HC) M. Jusuf Kalla’s commencement address at UIII was a significant vision for the future of the university and its role in both national and international contexts. His words serve as a guiding light for the institution as it seeks to fulfill its mission of providing high-quality, peaceful Islamic education while also being inclusive and comprehensive in its curriculum.
To see the full version of Dr. (H.C.) M. Jusuf Kalla’s address at UIII Commencement 2023, please visit our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Axod5Rj39mk&t=130s