SEAMEO RECFON signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Universitas Muhammadiyah Prof. Hamka (UHAMKA) on 26 December 2019 at Pasar Rebo campus represented by the Director of SEAMEO RECFON, Dr Muchtaruddin Mansyur, and the Rector of UHAMKA, Prof. Gunawan Suryoputro. Through the Centre’s two flagship programs namely Nutrition Goes to School (NGTS) and Early Childhood, Care, Nutrition, and Education (ECCNE), the MoU covers five main components i.e. 1) community development services based on schools and communities, 2) staff exchange, 3) student internship, 4) capacity building and training, and 5) food and nutrition research collaboration.  The MoU is effective until 2025.  The collaboration is expected to amplify the roles of the two organizations in contributing to the improved nutrition and health status of the people in Indonesia as well as the Southeast Asia region.

Prof. Gunawan Suryoputro conveyed his appreciation of this mutual collaboration. He marked that Muhammadiyah, as the leading organization, has approximately 36,000 schools, all levels from early childhood centres, primary and secondary as well as vocational schools throughout Indonesia.  This wide coverage imposes a great opportunity as well as challenges at the same time as the quality of these schools vary.  He added the story of Kyai Haji Ahmad Dahlan who initiated the first Muhammadiyah school in Yogyakarta, pictured as the pioneer teacher who would do anything for the education to run well, including giving away his own personal belongings to finance all education charges. “It was not how much they can take, but how much they could give to the children”, he added about KH Ahmad Dahlan.

Dr Muchtaruddin Mansyur in his speech marked that “As part of Muhammadiyah organization, UHAMKA has a great role to bring benefits to the organization especially through community development program that touches the lives of the young generation directly”.  With the stunting elimination program positioned as the national priority program in Indonesia, the attempt should lie on the preparation of the young generation to live their lives to the fullest and give birth to a healthier new generation with lower risk of developing stunting. He expected that all stakeholders should give benefit to the society. “It is not enough for a program to be just being implemented, a program must provide benefits to the people,” he added.

Attending the MOU signing ceremony, among others was Drs H Budiana MM from Muhammadiyah DKI Jakarta who welcomed the collaborative programs to be implemented in a total of 92 schools from all levels. “We are very happy about this joint effort, and we expect that the lessons learned from the school-based collaborative program in Jakarta would inspire similar program to be implemented in other provinces too with our unique Muhammadiyah context”.

The MOU signing was witnessed by the management of UHAMKA as well as Vice Rector 1, Vice Rector 3, Director of Post Graduate Program and the Head of Postgraduate Study Program of Health Science, Dean of Health Science Faculty, Dean of Education Science Faculty, Head of Research and Development, Partnership Unit, and staff of Knowledge Management and Partnership unit of SEAMEO RECFON. (EE)