Indonesia Banget #21 : National Education Day

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Although May 2nd will forever be L’Arc~en~Ciel Day for me…but in truth May 2nd is National Education Day here in Indonesia 😉

May 2nd was chosen as National Education Day because it was the day Ki Hajar Dewantara was born, the man who worked so hard to build a good education system in Indonesia.

Ki Hadjar Dewantara (in Indonesian new spelling it becomes Ki Hajar Dewantara) was born under the name of Raden Mas Soewardi Soerjaningrat, Raden Mas was attached to him as a royal title because he was born in Jogjakarta Royal family. His royal title gave him opportunity to study as high as he wanted it. He was born in May 2, 1889…hence he was born under Dutch colonialism. During Dutch colonialism, only rich people were allowed to study.

Ki Hajar Dewantara

Soewardi Soerjaningrat studied at ELS (Europeesche Lagere School), then continued studies at Kweekschool (Teacher School) and STOVIA (Javanese Doctor’s School). He didn’t finish his study at STOVIA. He then became journalist for several newspapers. His writing was very anti-colonialism. He was also active in many political organizations. One of his writing that really hit the Dutch Government was titled “Seandainya Aku Seorang Belanda” (original title in Dutch: Als ik een Nederlander was, In English: If I were a Dutchman)

“Sekiranya aku seorang Belanda, aku tidak akan menyelenggarakan pesta-pesta kemerdekaan di negeri yang telah kita rampas sendiri kemerdekaannya. Sejajar dengan jalan pikiran itu, bukan saja tidak adil, tetapi juga tidak pantas untuk menyuruh si inlander memberikan sumbangan untuk dana perayaan itu. Ide untuk menyelenggaraan perayaan itu saja sudah menghina mereka, dan sekarang kita keruk pula kantongnya. Ayo teruskan saja penghinaan lahir dan batin itu! Kalau aku seorang Belanda, hal yang terutama menyinggung perasaanku dan kawan-kawan sebangsaku ialah kenyataan bahwa inlander diharuskan ikut mengongkosi suatu kegiatan yang tidak ada kepentingan sedikit pun baginya”.

“If I were a Dutchman, I would not celebrate Dutch independence parties at the country which freedom had been taken away by us. With respect to that thought, not only it wasn’t fair, it was also inappropriate to ask the native (inlander) to give donation to such parties. The idea of celebration itself had insulted them, and now we also took away their money. Keep on doing this body and soul humiliation! If I were a Dutchman, the thing that insulted me and my fellow countrymen the most was the fact that the native must pay for activities that didn’t even involve them at all”

(I translated it myself … so it might not be as good as it supposed to be)

He was exiled to Netherland for his writing. During this time, he had a dream to enrich Indonesian Education. He studied hard and gained Europeesche Akte. In 1919, he returned to Indonesia. In 1922, he built Nationaal Onderwijs Instituut Tamansiswa (Tamansiswa national institute) and changed his named from Raden Mas Soewardi Soerjaningrat to Ki Hadjar Dewantara, he didn’t want to use his Royal title anymore. His slogan, ing ngarso sung tulodo, ing madyo mangun karso, tut wuri handayani (It’s in Javanese, it means “the one in front should give example, the one in the middle should give encouragement, the one in the back should give motivation“). This slogan is still used up to today.

For his effort in educating the native Indonesian, when Indonesia gained her freedom, he was chosen for Minister of Education and Culture by President Soekarno. He was also acknowledged as The Father of National Education and his birthday was set to be The National Education Day.

He was also honored on Indonesian Currency, Rp. 20.000 (but his image was changed to Otto Iskandar Di Nata in 2002)

Thank you Ki Hajar Dewantara for laying the first stone of Indonesian Education, as a teacher myself, I am forever in debt to you. However, you should know that our Education is no longer what you wanted it to be, it aimed more to useless difficult knowledge rather than useful skill.

This article is written based on Wikipedia in Bahasa Indonesia.

9 thoughts on “Indonesia Banget #21 : National Education Day

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I always love learning history from other parts of the world. People like these always give me hope about the world we live in. He has made an impact and it is in a field that I really believe in. I am a strong supporter of education for all.

  2. Making people pay like that is adding insult to injury.
    Ki Hajar Dewantara was right on the money to focus on education. It’s so much easier to repress people who haven’t learned to think.

    1. Hear hear!!
      Fortunately those bad times was in the past.
      He was really well educated and I am glad knowing that most educated people at that time think of their not so fortunate countrymen and thought what best for the country

  3. I admire this a lot. There are some courageous people out there who fight for their ideals.
    Education can do such a lot, in so many parts in the world it’s not possible for everyone, especially not for the girls.

    1. Thank you Caroline. Oh yes…female are most often forgotten when it comes to education, especially those days. So many old people from the war era remain illiterate till this day. Fortunately now most Indonesian can read.

  4. It must good to have someone like him in your history. “If I were a Dutchman” was very meaningful and i really like “the one in front should give example, the one in the middle should give encouragement, the one in the back should give motivation“. He was a wise man, huh…

    1. Yes it is good to have him in our history, we are very proud of him. People like him rarely thought of their own benefit, all for the freedom of the nation.
      That sentence is still the foundation of our education up till today.
      Thank you for taking your time reading this Sungin 🙂

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