"I thank Muhammadiyah for having played this role since long in Indonesia even before its independence," Makarim noted in his remarks during the commemoration of the 107th anniversary of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second-largest Muslim organization, in Yogyakarta on Monday evening.
One of the most noteworthy achievements of Muhammadiyah is the establishment of tens of thousands of pre-schools called PAUD, or early childhood education, across the country, he pointed out.
Indonesia will not be able to achieve progress without PAUD, he noted.
"Many people are unaware of the important role of PAUD in public education, particularly in terms of character building. Those are golden moments that we prepare our future leaders for," the minister stated.
On the occasion, Makarim also expressed his commitment to freeing the country's education system to drive novel innovations in the education sector.
"In accordance with the president's directives, our mission in the Education and Culture Ministry is to free the education unit, to free teachers, and to free students. This is my commitment," he stated.
Freedom is paramount to materializing innovations in every education unit.
To prepare future national leaders, former boss of Gojek Internet technology-based company vowed to further promote character building education.
However, character building education cannot merely be taught but must be applied on an ongoing basis.
"Character education cannot be taught. The best character education is to give example and to do it," he noted.
Muhammadiyah was established in 1912 in Yogyakarta, as a socio-religious organization aimed at adapting Islam to modern Indonesian life.
Muhammadiyah championed the eradication of all superstitious customs, mostly relics of pre-Islamic times and to make traditional bonds that tend to stifle modern cultural life less rigid.
To achieve these objectives, it set up schools along modern lines where Western subjects were taught alongside religion. It has set up orphanages, hospitals, and other social services across the country.
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