History of Education in Indonesia

Early kingdoms
Education system in the era of Hindu-Buddhist civilisation is called karsyan. Karsyan is a place of hermitage.

Era of Islamic states
The emergence of Islamic state in Indonesia is noted by the acculturation of both Islamic tradition and Hindu-Buddhist tradition. At this time period, pondok pesantren, a type of Islamic boarding school was introduced and several of them were established. The location of pesantren is mostly faraway from the hustling crowd of the city, resembling the location of Karsyan.

Colonial era
Elementary education was introduced by the Dutch in Indonesia during the colonial era. The Dutch education system are Query strings of educational branches that were based on social status of the colony's population, with the best available institution reserved for the European population. In 1870, with the growth of Dutch Ethical Policy formulated by Conrad Theodor van Deventer, some of these Dutch-founded schools opened the doors for pribumi (lit. native Indonesians). They were called Sekolah Rakjat (lit. folk school), the embryo of what is called Sekolah Dasar (lit. elementary school) today. In 1871 the Dutch parliament adopted a new education law that sought to uniform the highly scattered and diversified indigenous educational systems across the archipelago, and expand the number of teacher training schools under supervision of the colonial administration. The budget for public schooling was raised in steps from ca. 300,000 guilders in 1864, to roughly 3 million guilders by the early 1890s. Most often however the education development were starved of funding, because many Dutch politicians feared expanding education would eventually lead to anti-colonial sentiment. Funding for education only count for 6% of the total expenditure of the colonial budget in the 1920s. The number government and private primary schools for native had increased to 3,108 and the libraries to 3000 by 1930. However spending sharply declined after the economic depression in 1930.

The Dutch introduced a system of formal education for the local population of Indonesia, although this was restricted to certain privileged children. The Schools for the European were modeled after the education system in Netherlands itself and required the proficiency in Dutch language. Dutch language was also needed for higher education enrollment. The elite Native/Chinese population who lack Dutch language skills could enroll in either Dutch Native or Chinese Schools. The schools were arranged in the following levels:
ELS (Dutch: Europeesche Lagere-School lit. "European Low School") - Primary School for Europeans
HSS (Dutch: Hollandsch-Schakel-School lit. "Dutch-Switch School")
HIS (Dutch: Hollandsch-Inlandsche-School lit. "Dutch-Native School") - Primary School for Natives
HCS (Dutch: Hollandsch-Chinesche-School lit. "Dutch-Chinese School") - Primary School for Chinese
MULO (Dutch: Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs lit. "More Advanced Low Education") - Middle School
AMS (Dutch: Algemene Middelbare-School lit. "General Middle School") - High School or College
HBS (Dutch: Hogere Burger-School lit. "Higher Citizen School") - Pre-University

For the population in the rural area, the Dutch created the Desa Schools or Village schools system which aimed to spread literacy among the native population. These schools provide two or three years training of vernacular subjects (reading, writing, ciphering, hygiene, animals and plants, etc.), and served as a cheaper alternative schools. These village schools however received much less funding than the privileged European schools, thus the quality of education provided is often lacking. Despite of its flaw, the number of Village Schools has reached 17,695 by 1930.The rest of the rural education were left to the work of Christian missionary, which are considered more cost-efficient.

The segregation between Dutch and Indonesian in education pushed several Indonesian figures to start educational institutions for local people. Arab Indonesians founded Jamiat Kheir in 1905, Ahmad Dahlan founded Muhammadiyah in November 1912, and Ki Hajar Dewantara founded Taman Siswa in July 1922 to emancipate the native population. Pesantrens (Islamic Schools) were also mushrooming rapidly during these period.

During the colonial period there was also a large gap between educated male and female population. In 1920, the island of Java and Madura out of the 6.5% literate male population, only 0.5% of the female native population are literate. Similar phenomenon can be observed on the Foreign Orientals (Arabs and Chinese), with 26.5% literate male population and only 8.5% literate female out of the total population. In the outer islands beyond Java the difference between literate male and female population are 12% and 3% out of total population respectively. Inspired by a Javanese-born aristocrat Kartini who died young at the age of 25, the Van Deventer family worked to increase female involvement in education and received support from the Dutch government. Eventually leading to foundation of Kartini Schools in 1911.

The Dutch colonial government also established a number of universities and colleges for native Indonesian on the island of Java. Prior to founding of Bandung Institute of Technology in 1920, there are no university-level of education in the country and students have to go abroad (mainly to Netherlands) in order to receive them. Most of these universities had become the country's top educational institution as of today. These educational institution are as follow:

School tot Opleiding van Inlandsche Artsen or STOVIA, a medical university which later become Geneeskundige Hogeschool in Batavia.
Nederland-Indische Artsen School or NIAS, a medical school in Soerabaja.
Rechts-Hoge-School, a law school in Weltevreden, Batavia.
De Technische Hoge-School, or THS, a technic school in Bandoeng and the first full-fledge university in the country opened in 1920.
Middelbare Landbouw-school, an agriculture college which later become Landbouwkundige Faculteit in Buitenzorg
Opleiding-School voor Inlandsche Ambtenaren or OSVIA, colleges for training Native Civil Servants.
Hollandsche-Indische Kweek-school, colleges for training teachers.

By the 1930s, the Dutch had introduced limited formal education to nearly every province of the Dutch East Indies, although by this period only 7% of the population were literate and 2% are fluent in the Dutch language. Around the Outer Islands beyond Java, to meet demand of schooling the Dutch government relied heavily on missionary schools that mostly provide basic and moral education.

Japanese occupation
During the Japanese occupation in World War II, the various operation of the Dutch educational system were consolidated into one single operation that parallel the Japanese education system. The Japanese occupation marked the deterioration of education in Indonesia, as schools were organized with the goal of creating Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere of influence. As a result, schools begun training in military and physical drill that are anti-West oriented. It also include indoctrination of Japanese culture and history. Students were required to raise Japanese flag and salute the emperor every morning. The Japanese had made schools less stratified, despite of this the school enrollment had shrunk by 30% for primary education and 90% for secondary education by 1945.

Post Independence
Under the Japanese and Dutch occupation, most of the educational institutions were created to support the needs of the occupying power and there were very few efforts to promote the intellectual advancement of the indigenous population. After Indonesia finally declared its independence in 1945, the surviving education system was fragile and unorganized. In addition there was also a shortage of teachers, as most of the teachers had been either Dutch or Japanese. Very few Indonesians had experience in managing schools. Eager to address the neglect of focused education on native population, the first government of Indonesia had to create a system from scratch and reject the colonial European system. An act is declared in 1945 as Chapter 8, article 131, clause 1 that "every citizen has the right for education". The ministry of education, instruction and culture was founded with its first minister, Soewandi. The new institution sought to create an education that is anti-discriminatory, elitist and capitalist, in order to promote nationalism of the new republic of Indonesia. It is also decided that religion deserved a proper place and attention under the new republic, resulting in an increased support for Pesantren and Islamic Madrasah.