In Memoriam Darsono: Education for Marginalized People


“Education removes someone from the trap of structural poverty. Darsono provides opportunities for poor people to get a qualified and affordable higher education.”

Darsono (1955-2022) has always wondered why some people are born poor. He harbored a “resentment” against that situation. A situation that complicated his family's life because they could not afford to pay school fees. It was only recently that Darsono realized. How vengeful it describes the face of social inequality in Indonesia. The proverb of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer is evident in plain sight.

Awareness of the importance of education has not taken root in the Darsono family. His parents still think they are better off paying for their daily meals than school fees. Darsono often argued with his parents because of this. However, Darsono finally realized that his parents were unaware that education could be a means for vertical social mobility.
In 1972, Darsono successfully graduated from SMP Negeri 9 Yogyakarta. His education already fulfilled the requirements to register as a civil servant at that time. Even so, Darsono still wanted to continue his studies. Darsono thinks school will not bring economic misery. Quite the contrary. Schools are pathways to welcoming economic, social, and cultural blessings. Finally, he decided to run away and live temporarily in an empty house owned by his neighbor.

Darsono works as a daily brick production worker in Nglaren hamlet, Bantul district, to make a living. From this job, he was able to continue his education at SMA Bopkri 2 (1975) and the IKIP Yogyakarta (1982). On the campus, later known as Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta (UNY), Darsono obtained a bachelor's degree in Cooperative Economics. Darsono admitted that his GPA while studying was below the class average.

Nonetheless, Prof. Dr. Sugiyono, Darsono's co-promoter for obtaining the Honorary Doctorate Award in Higher Education Management, gave a different assessment. "Even though Darsono was not outstanding and graduated with a mediocre GPA, he proved that there is a negative correlation between numerical scores and one's success," said Prof. Dr. Sugiyono.

Before Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta awarded Darsono the title of Dr. (H.C.) on March 28, 2018, he achieved an inspiring achievement. Darsono started his career as an SMEA teacher and eventually became a foundation administrator who later succeeded in managing Pamulang University (UNPAM) in South Tangerang in 2004. In its management, UNPAM is the answer for high school graduates who are financially underprivileged. UNPAM provides several facilities; namely, there is no building fee, affordable monthly tuition fee, to elective classes in the afternoon and evening. The development of UNPAM is in line with Darsono's dream of opening access to inclusive, democratic and civilized education for marginalized groups.

UNY officially awarded Darsono the title “doctor honoris causa” in Higher Education Management for his commitment to providing affordable higher education opportunities. Darsono is an alumnus of UNY and an inspirational figure who promotes education for the poor. On Friday (30/12/2022), Darsono died. This news made the UNPAM and UNY academics grieve. Darsono left a valuable tenacity, sincerity, and legacy to realize education as an investment in civilization". (Author : Ronny K, Editor : Dedy, Tj.Lak)

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