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Lack of Geography Scientists, Study Program and Faculty of Geography in Higher Education Should be Increased

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Indonesia still lacks of geography scientists while the demand for professionals is still quite high. The small number is because geography graduates in Indonesia only come from two universities, namely UGM and Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta. Actually, there are 31 universities which have departments of geography. "As a result, areas of expertise cannot be filled by geography scientists because of the high demand. To fulfill them, special efforts are required to open the new study program and geography faculty," said Dr. Muhammad Dimyati, Chairman of the Institute of Geography Gadjah Mada (IGEGAMA), on the sidelines of international congress and seminar in the field of mapping, Thursday (21/10), at the Graduate School of UGM.

Dimyati estimated the current needs of geography scientists reached 29 thousand while, the number of graduates is still small. To be able to meet that number, at least it takes approximately 25 years. "There must be another way to produce professionals to balance between demand and output of higher education," said the alumnus of Faculty of Geography UGM who graduated in 1982.

To support the need, Dimyati advised the government to provide recommendations to the existing colleges to open a new geography department or faculty. "The society’s appreciation of geography can be enhanced by increasing the number of students in college," Dimyati said.

In order to improve these conditions, geography study program in higher education should also equalize the competence of graduates, including discussing the geography curriculum and clarifying the geographic areas of competence that must be mastered. The geography lesson can be given at earlier levels from elementary to high schools. The hope is that the teaching of geography will sustain.

Dean of the Faculty of Geography, Prof. Dr. Suratman, conveyed that Indonesia needs   many geographers to explore natural resources potential. He mentioned the five competencies that must be mastered by geographers, namely the understanding of the relationships between nature and social life, resources, and territory; preservation of environmental management; disaster mitigation, and geographic information systems. "Finally, it's about the skill areas of geographic information systems that can be an independent business, how the spatial knowledge can provide value for national, regional, and entrepreneurship insights," Suratman said.

With their skills, Suratman said, geography scientists also contributed to shaping the character of the nation in terms of understanding the map, remote sensing, providing strategic information through geographical, geotechnical and geoinformatic information system kiosks.