Paper presented at the National Olympiad Conference with a theme Building International Collaboration in Education to Face Globalization, Malang May 14, 20011.
As a big religious and social organization, Muhammadiyah decided education as one of its service to the society and nation. Based on this reason, it makes sense that Muhammadiyah has thousands of schools from kindergarten to university level. The schools are spread out across the nation, from the metropolitan city like Jakarta to villages in Indonesia. It can be said that there are Muhammadiyah schools in every district of Indonesia and especially in Java, Sumatra and some other places Muhammadiyah schools can be found in as far as sub-districts and small villages. Therefore, Muhammadiyah schools has given a significant contribution to the national education. The Muhammadiyah schools quality will significantly influence the development of education in Indonesia.
Bearing Muhammadiyah name, Muhammadiyah schools apparently have already had the brand as Muhammadiyah brand derivation, as a result Muhammadiyah schools are frequently associated as “Modern Islamic School”. However, with the development of knowledge and technology and the higher competition among schools, the brand that is accepted without any design does not seem to be sufficient anymore, this is something that needs to be rethought. Islamic schools or common schools but with Islamic nuance have grown rapidly in great numbers recently. Schools competition seems to be tighter, therefore it is important to reconsider the Muhammadiyah brand.
If the brand as Modern Islamic School is no longer sufficient, what kind of brand is more appropriate? This is what should be seriously thought, in order not to take a wrong step later. Hermawan Kartajaya et.al (2004) state that brand awareness, brand association, perceived quality and brand loyalty or what is usually called as tough brand equity is no longer sufficient. In the future, it needs something more, that is brand charisma. When more good schools emerge and keep improving the quality (I am sure we are going there ), and all schools will try to reach the four-brand equity, at that time brand charisma is needed.
What is brand charisma or what does the school with charisma look like? To make an analogue, let’s think a school as a person. We understand the characteristics of charismatic person as (1) having a remarkable and undeniable reputation (2) having power to inspire other people and (3) having a strong personal appeal. These characteristics make him have many followers, who are not only intellectually bound due to his speciality, but emotionally bound as faithful followers and spiritual bound as well, due to the teaching or words he says that is believed to be life guidance. Of course, it is a life guidance in the charismatic person specialities field. Ahmad Dahlan, Soekarno, Hatta, Gandi, Habibie are several examples of charismatic people in their different area and scale.
For that reason, charismatic person has loyal, even fanatic followers. Based on the intellectual, emotional and spiritual, his followers will keep on believing on the idol’s step and they even voluntarily introduce the teaching to others. The followers have become part of the precept, so introducing the percept to others and supporting the teaching (including the idol himself) is an obligation.
That is the illustration of charismatic person, the question is : Is it possible to apply the illustration to a school? Although, it is not exactly the same, it seems that schools may have charisma. There are many schools or universities in the world that have such charisma. These kinds of schools/universities are believed by wider society to have undeniable superiority. Every student in those institutions will obtain added value which can not be found from other schools/universities, what is more, other schools/universities will “imitate” any activity that is innovated by these schools/universities.
Being Muhammadiyah schools, rebranding should be done based on Muhammadiyah principle as the main organization, they are the Islamism; Muhammadiyahism; education philosophy and education challenge that Indonesia encounters. If the four principles can be blended, the Muhammadiyah schools brand will keep the Islam teaching, the soul of Muhammadiyah, applying the philosophy of education and becoming a vehicle for preparing superior generation for the future of Indonesia. Of course, what is meant by superior is a comprehensive term of superiority : intellectual, emotional, spiritual and even physical superiority.
Ki Hajar Dewantara states that education is an effort to develop the integration of children’s character, thought (intellectual) and physical, and referring to Al Ghazali’s thought, education should be able to develop heart potential which will decide what to do; brain potential which will decide how to do, hand and foot (body) potential which will implement what is instructed by the heart and strategy which is designed by the brain. The thought of both experts are alike, both say that education is an effort to develop learner’s potential comprehensively including the aspects of heart as character source, brain as the source of intellectual and hand and foot as the source of deed.
Indonesia faces a great challenge this time. Many people beliefe that the nation disorder is not caused by the poor natural resources, because as a matter of fact Indonesia is very rich of natural resources. Indonesians are not unintelligent people, because many Indonesians have proved themselves to be outstanding talented people at the world level competition. Many young Indonesians win medals in various Olympiads. Indonesia has many experts from various fields. They many Indonesian who achieve good carrier abroad. Many experts state that the cause of the nation’s problem is the moral decadence. Using Al Ghazali’s thought path, with moral decadence, people’s behavior tend to find their own benefit by neglecting others’ right and which are halal (allowed, permitted, rightful, legal) or haram (forbidden, proscribed, illegal). Using a good intellectual capability to find a tricky strategy to make the bad goal is not easy to be investigated and to be blamed.
Based on the above description, so the intersection between Islamism, Muhammadiyahism, education philosophy and the challenge for Indonesia, is akhlaq, moral, character education. (to make it easy these three words are considered as the same meaning). How important akhlaq is in life may possibly be seen in the following hadits : “Sesungguhnya aku diutus untuk menyempurnakan akhlak sholeh” (HR: Bukhari, Baihaqi) and “Sebaik-baik manusia itu mereka yang paling baik akhlaknya” (HR: AT Tabrani) which mean that Muhammad as the God messenger was sent to perfect human virtuous akhlaq and he states that a good human is he/she who has the best akhlaq.
Akhlaq/character is a very important aspect in Islam teaching and of course in Muhammadiyah principle. In education philosophy akhlaq/character is also children fundamental potential that should be developed, while akhlaq becomes a very serious problem for Indonesia. Therefore, akhlaq education or character education can be used as a brand charisma for Muhammadiyah schools.
Is character a sellable brand? It means if Muhammadiyah schools use character education as the brand, will the society be interested? I believe many people will be interested. Since 1990s the society especially parents have become restless of children’s behaviour. With this reason, when schools with Islamic nuance or with akhlaq emphasis developed many parents were interested.
The tendency of character education in other countries has long been started. Larry P Nucci and Darcia Narvaez (2008) stated that that time 80% of US states decided that character education was a compulsory. They said that it was based on the society tendency saying that schools should support the growth of honesty among children (97%), appreciating others (94%), being democratic (93%) and respect others from different social background etc. (93%). Tony Wagner (2008) proposed 7 skills should be developed through education (seven survival skills for teens today), and four out of the 7 skills are character. So I am definitely sure that character education may become an interesting brand.
The next question is whether Muhammadiyah schools are credible enough to bring character education as brand charisma? It is not easy for schools, including Muhammadiyah schools to decide character as brand charisma. But with the advantage of bearing the famous name like Muhammadiyah, I believe it is possibly achieved. Of course, it needs serious efforts, it takes time and consistency. Muhammadiyah schools should be able to perform the students’ character building without feeling tired and without blemish. Ministry of National Education (Kemdiknas, 2010) found that character education needs model, life values support and needs a consistency in its implementation. But I convince myself that Muhammadiyah schools have possessed sufficient modal for those three requirements.
What are the aspects of character that Muhammadiyah schools have to develop? This is something that should be seriously examined. Character has numerous and multi dimensional aspects. To make the implementation easier, I propose to find just some universal cores by considering three learners potentials that has previously been discussed, they are heart, brain and body, including personal and social dimension.
Honest is one of the aspects of core character from heart domain with personal and social dimension. Intelligent is one of the aspects of core character from brain domain with personal dimension. Tough is one of the aspects of core character from brain and body domain of personal and social dimension. Care is one of the aspects of core character from heart and body domain of social dimension. Is honest, intelligent, tough and care suitable for Muhammadiyah schools brand charisma? I recommend to have deeper study on respecting matter.
Dewantara, K.H. 2004. Karya Ki Hajar Dewantara, Bagian: Pertama Pendidikan. Yogyakarta: Majelis Luhur Taman Siswa.
Kartajaya, Hermawan et.all. 2004. Marketing in Venus. Jakarta: Penerbit PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama.
Kementerian Pendidikan Nasional. 2010. Pendidikan Karakter: Kumpulan Pengalaman Inspiratif. Jakarta: Kemdiknas.
Nuci, Larry P & Narvaez, Darcia (Ed). 2008. Handbook of Moral and Character Education. New York: Routledge.
Wagner, Tony. 2008. The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best School Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need and What We Can Do About It. New York: Basic Books.