Pusat Bahasa UGM: A Robust Foundation for High-Quality Education and Global Cooperation

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The present Pusat Pelatihan Bahasa or Language Training Centre dates back to 1971 when Rector Soeroso H. Prawirohardjo (1968-1973) launched a new project in recognition of the importance of foreign languages in the work and career aspirations of academic and professional Indonesians. The project was set up under the auspices of the Indonesian Ministry of Education in cooperation with the British Ministry of Overseas Development working through the British Council, Jakarta. The University supplied the building, staff housing, and the administrative staff for the operation headed by Drs R. Soegondo (a senior lecturer and former Dean of Fakultas Sastra UGM) first as Coordinator and later as Director. Britain agreed to supply a full-time technical expert, graduate volunteer teachers, books, and a language laboratory.

The project was known as SELTU (Staff English Language Training Unit), an acronym invented by Drs R. Soegondo and Mr Ken Moody from the British Council. The first Director of Studies was Ms Elizabeth Stewart, who was appointed to coordinate and implement long-term language training programmes for UGM staff. She organized both full and part-time courses with full support from the head of the English Department, Drs Achmad Wirono, and his staff as well as a number of native-speaking instructors from the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) organization. Ms Stewart was later replaced by Mr Michael Smithies, who built on the existing foundation.

Originally the Unit was attached to the Faculty of Letters, and under this system the Unit (inspite of its name) also offered courses in other languages. From 1974 to 1978 it ran French courses for university lecturers intending to study in France. The courses were organized in association with the French Cultural Attaché, Jakarta and taught by French cooperants, (young French people who, instead of joining the compulsory military service, served abroad teaching French). Dutch was also taught for some time to recruit Dutch teachers before they were sent to Holland.

Early in 1975, during the rectorship of Professor Sukadji Ranuwihardjo (1973-1981), SELTU was established as a separately budgeted unit independently of the Faculty of Letters but part of the Hubungen Luar Negeri section of the Rector’s office. The Unit later received indirect financial assistance from the Rockefeller Foundation and MUCIA (Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities), and under their sponsorship Dr Gloria S. Poedjosoedarmo took over Mr Smithies’ position as Director of Studies (1976-1981) and continued to develop the Unit and make substantial improvements in the SELTU set-up. By this time, the University had managed to maintain close affiliations with the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association (Oberlin College, Ohio) and Princeton-in-Asia (Princeton University, New Jersey) for provision of American graduate volunteer instructors.

Between 1987 and 1990 the ELT Projects Unit of the British Council, Jakarta, funded by the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) of the British Government, provided full-time ELT specialists and financial assistance in the form of resources and materials. The specialists (Ms Sarah Holland, Ms Annie Park, Mr Martin Lamb in that order) revised and updated most of the courses and held regular teacher-training workshops within the institution.

During the rectorship of Professor Koesnadi Hardjasoemantri (1985-l990), it was decided that in order to extend the scope and effectiveness of the language training offered by the University, there was a need for a new purpose-built centre on the university campus, offering spacious and fully equipped premises for language training. The Rector envisaged the integration of the English teaching at SELTU and the teaching of other languages to UGM staff, non-UGM staff, and the general public within one central organization. In 1988 SELTU became Pusat Pelatihan Bahasa and was part of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (Pasca Sarjana), and on April 21st, 1989 the new Language Training Centre moved to the present site. The day-to-day management of the Centre was made up of Drs R. Soegondo as Head, Dr Stephanus Djawanai as Deputy Head, Drs A. Wirono and Drs Alex H. Rambadeta, MA as Academic Supervisors. Management Board dealing with policy matters was made up of ex officio the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Dean of the Faculty of Letters and the Head of the LTC. The management team was supported by a full-time ELT teacher/specialist, Mr Martin Lamb, from the British Council, and head of the administrative staff, Dra Kartinah.

To cater for the increasing demand for the Centre’s services, Professor Mochamad Adnan, the new Rector (1990-1994), approved of the LTC management’s request for additional space. The two existing wings were extended about three quarters of the original size of the new building, and by the end of 1992 the extension was completed. Today, Pusat Pelatihan Bahasa is part of the Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Gadjah Mada University.

Pusat Pelatihan Bahasa has emerged as an instrumental entity in advancing global learning, building upon a rich historical legacy that underscores its pivotal role in fostering linguistic proficiency and cultural understanding among students. This institution, rooted in the esteemed traditions of Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), has consistently adapted to the dynamic educational landscape, aligning itself with the principles of internationalization and collaboration, supporting SDG 17, which is Partnership for the Goals. With an unwavering commitment to cultivating global communication skills, Pusat Pelatihan Bahasa has meticulously designed and implemented comprehensive language programs. The center’s dedication to delivering high-quality language education has not only garnered recognition within national borders but has also positioned it as a key player on the global stage, which aligns with SDG 4, Quality Education. Pusat Pelatihan Bahasa stands as a testament to UGM’s steadfast commitment to global education, serving as a dynamic platform for cross-cultural exchange and significantly contributing to the enhancement of linguistic competence for individuals navigating an interconnected world.