Transforming lives through economics: Elghafiky’s educational journey at ANU

Master of International and Development Economics graduate Elghafiky Bimardhika


Elghafiky Bimardhika's journey from Indonesia to the Crawford School of Public Policy at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific exemplifies his deep passion for economics and dedication to addressing social issues. Growing up in Indonesia, ‘Fiky’ (as he’s affectionately known) began his career as a Research Manager at J-PAL Southeast Asia before pursuing a Master of International and Development Economics at the College.

Fiky's research interests are broad and deeply personal. He focuses on three main areas: labour rights, urban transportation, and child welfare. His interest in labour issues stems from his own experiences as a worker, driving his commitment to advocating for labour rights.

"I think we all have rights that need to be upheld and protected. Researching labour issues is my small contribution to the larger effort to improve the lives of many workers," he said.

Urban transportation is another key area for Fiky, influenced by his daily experiences commuting in Jakarta. He hopes to see improvements in public transportation that would encourage more people to use it, thereby alleviating traffic congestion and pollution. His third focus, child welfare, is the most personal. As a father, Fiky is driven by a desire to ensure his son grows up in a world where his welfare is a priority.

"Everything I do is driven by the quest to make sure my son grows up to live a fulfilling life," he shared.

At Crawford, Fiky found the Master of International and Development Economics to be both challenging and rewarding. The rigorous coursework, particularly in econometric techniques, equipped him with a solid foundation in economics. He appreciated how the program balanced mathematical rigour with the ability to communicate complex concepts effectively through writing.

"I appreciate Econometric Techniques IDEC8017 because it forced us to confront the basics and not let us run away directly to some high-level stuff before completely grasping the foundations," he explained.

Guest lectures were also a highlight of Fiky's time at the College. Talks by Associate Professor Jack Pezzey on sustainability and Professor Quentin Grafton on water economics left a lasting impact on him. These lectures inspired him to adopt more environmentally conscious habits, such as wearing extra layers at home during winter to reduce heating usage.

"I might not be able to do much to stall climate change and the looming energy crisis, but at least I’m doing something in the best way I can," he said.

One of Fiky's key takeaways from the master’s program is the importance of building state capacity for implementing evidence-based policies. He notes that while much attention is given to designing policies based on evidence, there is often insufficient focus on the capacity to deliver these policies effectively. He highlights the reliance on donor grants for funding research in developing countries, which can limit the scalability and impact of beneficial programs.

For prospective economics students, Fiky offers valuable advice: invest time in mastering mathematics, enhance writing skills, seek guidance from mentors, and prioritize mental health. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the mathematical foundations of economics to grasp concepts firmly.

"Don't back down and soldier through," he advises, acknowledging the initial struggles many students face.

Looking ahead, Fiky plans to pursue a PhD and aims to publish several research papers. His journey underscores a commitment to leveraging economics as a tool for social change, advocating for more effective and equitable policies worldwide. Through his research and future endeavours, Fiky hopes to contribute to a brighter future for his son and generations to come.