In the nineteenth century European education had hardly any similarities with native
schooling in the Netherlands East-Indies. The native schools were mostly institutions with a
religious, Islamitic, curriculum. In the twentieth century the Dutch colonial government tried
to realize a breadthwise education. For that reason the governor-general Van Heutsz and his
staff introduced elementary instruction by way of so-called “desa-schools” in 1906. The
advantages were numerous: the education was simple, cheap and adapted to local
circumstances (see survey a and b about desa-schools and link-schools).
The colonial government foresaw a great demand for native middleclass workers in the
public and private service (see superstructures in survey c). Therefore in 1920 a network of
education was created from desa-school up to university. The first university education
(technological) was established in Bandung / Bandoeng in 1918, followed by other facuties in
Jakarta / Batavia. In 1940 more than fourty percent of the children (6-12 years old) attended
schooltraining. The efforts of the colonial government to combat illiteracy were a succes.
(Source: J. van Goor, De Nederlandse koloniën; The Hague 1978, p.275)
One of the results of the efforts to fill up a gap between stimulation of education and
eagerness to read has been the creation of mutual libraries: Balai Pusaka and
The aim of this article is to show an impression of the serious efforts of the Dutch colonial
government in the first half of the twentieth century to introduce a system of education for
everybody. This article is based on the legislation from 1893, 1906 and 1915 and describes
the colonial educational organization in 1935. The attention from the colonial Government
authorities (Government for short or, in Dutch, “Gouvernement”) for the sake of education
during the nineteenth century is outside the scope of this article!
1In the surveys in this article synonyms (Bahasa Indonesia and English) are linked with a
comma. A slash is used to link Dutch with Bahasa Indonesia or English. Synonyms in Dutch
are linked with a comma.
1. Native primary and vocational education, Western primary education
The problem of education in the Netherlands East-Indies was a complicated one, because of
the divergent needs and conditions of life of the heterogeneous populations. The standard of
civilization presented all the intermediate shades displayed between the most primitive
“savage” and the highest civilized groups of people.
To be Continue…