The government of Indonesia will annually increase the education budget as well as the salaries of teachers. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made that promise to the more than 5000 delegates and observers attending the opening session of the 20th Congress of the Indonesian teachers' union PGRI held in Palembang on 30 June-4 July.
President Yudhoyono praised the Indonesian teaching profession for playing such an important role in the economic and social development of the country. He said that he had instructed all public authorities to collaborate with 'the PGRI in order to improve the quality of education and welfare of teachers. The President also thanked Education International for providing support to the PGRI and for the post-tsunami education relief programmes in Aceh.
In his address to the participants of the congress, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen highlighted the role of teachers in imparting democratic values and teaching tolerance.
"Teachers (must) build bridges of understanding, like we in Education International are trying to build bridges between the teaching profession of the Muslim world and our colleagues in the so-called western countries. And you, the teachers of Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, have a very important role to play in helping us build that bridge," he said.
The five-day congress determined a course of action for the coming five years and elected a new Executive Board. Dr. Mohammad Surya, President since 1998 and under whose leadership the organisation started a renewal process, was succeeded by Dr. Sulistyo, former General Secretary of the Central Java branch of the union.