Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has appealed to the Indonesian Teachers Association (PGRI) to continue to play a pivotal role in bolstering unity in diversity in Indonesia.

"We all know that PGRI was born in the national struggle. PGRI fosters independence through education and preserves and develops the national culture. PGRI is also present to strengthen religious unity," President Jokowi remarked while opening the XXII PGRI Congress in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, Friday.

Jokowi noted that teachers played a paramount role in maintaining unity and building national character, especially that this organization had representatives in regions.

President Jokowi has called on teachers to draw the attention of their students at the earliest to the crucial fact that Indonesia is a large, diverse nation.

"From the start, it must be brought to the attention of all that no country in the world is as plural as Indonesia, no. Where are there any countries that are home to 714 tribes and with over 1,100 regional languages," he stated.

Jokowi recalled Afghan President Ashraf Ghani cautioning him of the potential for disunity that might arise.

"President Jokowi, be careful of your country, a large country with a population of 269 million. With various ethnic groups and religions," Jokowi noted while echoing Ghani's views.

He stated that Indonesia had attempted on four occasions to help resolve the conflict in Afghanistan, but to no avail until now.

Along with appealing to teachers to convey this crucial aspect to students, the president also urged them to convey the warning to the community.

"I know that you are a community leader in your area," he remarked.

He requested that matters pertaining to the regional head elections, both for district heads and mayors as well as governors and presidents, should not create rifts in the community.

"This is a process that must be conducted every five years. Later, a presidential election will be held again. When will we demonstrate maturity in politics if we do not greet each other or speak to one another," he emphasized.

On the occasion, the president viewed the development of PGRI until now as being quite rapid.

"I witnessed the extraordinary development of PGRI. I know we are all serious about improving the quality of education by encouraging professionalism among teachers," Jokowi affirmed.

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Translator: Agus Salim/Eliswan Azly
Editor: Sri Haryati
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