Environmental academy to be established in Makassar

The South Sulawesi administration is to set up an environmental academy, which will begin enrolling students next year. The academy is the first of its kind in Indonesia, concerned as it is with environmental issues.

The establishment of the academy, which will be located in Tonasa subdistrict, Balocci district, Pangkajene Islands regengy, was marked with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo and Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya in Makassar on Aug. 31.

The South Sulawesi Environmental Academy will be equipped with a biodiversity park and laboratory, which will later support learning and teaching on the 10-hectare campus.

Syahrul said the environmental academy was being established to combat the lack of specialized human resources, especially among civil servants and private sector entities, with knowledge about the environment.

“The academy will later produce quality human resources as well as help resolve environmental issues in South Sulawesi in particular, and eastern Indonesia in general,” said Syahrul.

The same sentiments were expressed by Balthasar. According to him, the standard of environmental services in the regions remained weak because those involved in environmental affairs did not have an educational background in the environment, but only general education.

He added that dealing with environmental issues required specific steps, especially now, given the increasing rate of environmental destruction in Indonesia.

“Nationally, environmental quality in Indonesia is between 59 percent and 60 percent, despite several provinces exceeding this rate. This is a great challenge for us,” Balthasar said.

“That’s why we need human resources who are equipped with the requisite commitment, knowledge and expertise about the environment,” he added.

Balthasar expressed his strong support for the environmental academy. He said the central government would assist the South Sulawesi provincial administration in founding the academy, including funds.

“If the state budget can’t be used, we will seek other ways, such as inviting [private] companies to get involved,” he added.

According to the plan, a meeting will be held this month between the Education Ministry’s directorate general of higher education and conservationists from several universities in Indonesia, including Makassar’s Hasanuddin University, the University of Indonesia (UI) and Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University (UGM), to prepare a curriculum and the teaching staff.

According to South Sulawesi’s Environmental Agency head, Andi Hasbi, the academy will have at least five schools or study programs, which will cover hazardous and toxic waste management; environmental impact analysis; water quality management and water, air and soil pollution control; waste management and environmental supervision.

Apart from the school buildings and laboratories, the campus will also be equipped with dormitories for students and lecturers, as the academy will adopt a boarding school concept.

Senior high school graduates as well as civil servants and employees from the private sector working in environmental affairs will be enrolled in the academy so as to acquire a specialized education necessary to deal with current environmental issues.

It remains undecided, however, whether the academy will offer diplomas or be considered a higher educational institution.

“The matter is still being discussed, but the academy will begin operating next year,” said Syahrul.