Launched by Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi and Education, Culture, Research and Technology Minister Nadiem Makarim, the two books were intended to increase teachers’ knowledge of ASEAN and ensure that materials on the matter would enter the school syllabus. “The books emphasize five main themes, namely knowing what ASEAN is; respecting identity and diversity; linking global issues and local issues, whose connections are getting stronger in the future; promoting equality and justice; and working together to create a sustainable future,” Nadiem said at the virtual book launch.
Made up of 10 nations with an assortment of cultural, political and economic realities and a wealth of traditions imbibed with influences from the Chinese, Indian and European traders of yonder, ASEAN has embarked on a mission to establish an elusive and singular ASEAN identity, at a time when a significant portion of the region’s people do not feel an affinity to the organization. Various initiatives across numerous channels have been set up to bring ASEAN closer to its youth, all to varying degrees of success.
But for Indonesia, which is home to nearly two-fifths of Southeast Asia’s total population, this disconnect is even more pronounced. Retno pointed out there was still a big gap in the Indonesian public’s understanding of ASEAN, citing a recent ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute survey that found that nearly 40 percent of respondents in ASEAN’s 10 countries consider the association as “elitist and disconnected from ordinary people.”
“The younger generation should know more about ASEAN. The younger generation should be proud of the identity of the ASEAN Community [because it is they] who will determine the direction and design of the ASEAN region in the future,” she said. For more than five decades, ASEAN has made many major contributions to the development of stability, peace and prosperity in Southeast Asia.
However, the bloc has repeatedly been criticized for failing to prove its relevance to ordinary people, outside of its success to allow for the free movement of people across the region.
According to The Jakarta Post