Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – Perhaps, Eko Purwanto himself did not think that he who was “only” a migrant worker in a factory in Ulsan successfully graduated from the Open University in South Korea.
Eko is not “just” a scholar. The man from Sragen, Central Java, also graduated with a GPA of 3.39 and was among the best graduates.
“Today, September 22, 2019, is a historic day for us. The toga that we have been dreaming of can be worn with pride. We can achieve our bachelor’s degree now,” said Eko when delivering his remarks as the best graduate.
Indonesian Migrant Workers who graduate as scholars are not only Eko. On the graduation day, ten of his friends who were also Indonesian migrant workers got a bachelor’s degree.
Eko’s struggle to study at the Open University in South Korea when working in a factory is certainly not an easy matter.
Sunday is the only day in a week when he can open a college textbook, namely when he is not in an overtime schedule.
On another day, Eko had to work in a tight schedule in a factory as he had to support himself in a foreign land and send the fortune he obtained for his family in his home country.
He advised that all the students in the Open University, who are mostly migrant workders in Korea, be able to manage their time well.
“The key to successful learning at an open university is being good at time management. Because the learning system is independent and long distance. Keep learning consistently, don’t break up in the middle of the road until you wear the toga,” said Eko.
Graduation of Eko Purwanto and his friends is a special day because it coincides with the 2019 Indonesian Festival held by the Indonesian Embassy in Seoul.
“I am proud of the graduates of the Open University in Korean as they were able to persevere to finish their studies even though they have to share time with work that has taken up most of their time,” Indonesian Ambassador to South Korea Umar Hadi said at the festival.
The ambassador also praised Eko for being active in the Student Executive Board of the university and the Baburrahman mosque in Ulsan.
“This is a state university designed for busy people like all of you. This university does not necessarily provide employment when you return to the country, but it will certainly change your mindset and outlook so that you can solve all challenges of life,” Ambassador Umar said.
This year there are 15 Indonesian migrant workers graduating from the university. During its nine years of existence, the university has had 126 graduates.
The number is actually more. However, most of them continued their studies and graduated in the country (Indonesia) due to the limited duration of work contract in Korea which is only three years.
A total of 1,388 people have been registered as the university’s students studying in three majors namely, Communication Studies, Management and English. Most of them are Indonesian migrant workers.
In 2014, the university was officially registered as a non-governmental institution in South Korea which allowed it to obtain various facilities from the local government.
As many as 40 students at postgraduate and doctoral levels support the university’s activities in South Korea as tutors.
Data from the Korean Immigration and HR Development Office (HRDK), as of 31 July 2019 the number of Indonesian citizens in South Korea reached 41,574 people, and most of them were Indonesian migrant workers.
Meanwhile, the number of Indonesian students in South Korea is 1,500.
Reporting by Indonesia Window