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Biography Of Ki Hajar Dewantara

Posted on: July 25, 2011

He was born on May 2nd, 1889, in Yogyakarta. His real name is Raden Mas Soewardi Soerjaningrat.His father was called Pangeran Soerjaningrat, from Pakualam Palace, Yogyakarta. As a part of an aristocratic family, Soewardi was quite free to enjoy his education. He had studied in Europeesche Lagere School (same level as Elementary School), Kweekschool, and School Tot Opleidong Van Indische Artsen or STOVIA. His recognition in the world of education was extraordinary.

He always thought that education was one of the most important factors in freeing the Indonesian people of their sufferings from colonization. He never considered that his aristocracy was important; instead he took off his aristocracy and changed his name to Ki Hajar Dewantara. He did that because he wanted to bring himself closer to the people.
On July 13th, 1913, when he was 24 years old, Ki Hajar was arrested by Netherlands’ soldiers because he made a publication about his article which was titled Als Ik Eens Nederlander Was (If I Am A Netherlander) in ‘De Express’ media. In this article, Ki Hajar Dewantara wrote that if he was a Netherlander, he would give his colonies freedom. He had to appear before a Netherlands’ court. He did that with calm and full of spirit. On July 3rd, 1922, Ki Hajar (as sparker of ideas) and with his friends in Sloso Kliwonan Association, established the Nationaal Onderwijs Instituut Tamansiswa, or “Taman Siswa”. This school was opened to Indonesian people who wanted to study. Ki Hajar Dewantara had three important principles, when he put into operation his schools, of which there were 129 branches in Indonesia. His principles were Ing Ngarso Sung Tulodo (in front gives examples), Ing Madyo Mangun Karso (in the middle builds up the spirit), and Tut Wuri Handayani (from behind supervises). To this day, these wise principles are still a guiding principle and an orientation in the world of Indonesian education.

When Japan colonized Indonesia, Ki Hajar Dewantara became a member of The Center of People’s Power (PUTERA). PUTERA was built by Japan to monitor dangerous people for Japan. Ki Hajar did that on purpose, in order not to be suspected and to be free to move. When PUTERA dispersed, Ki Hajar was chosen as a member of Naimuhu Bunkyonkyoku Sanyo. It is an educational organization which was made by Japan.
He got appreciation as “Bapak Pendidikan Indonesia” because of his ideas in the world of education. His opinions were modern although he lived in colonial times (difficult times). He always thought that everybody had the right to get an education. He was chosen also as Minister of Indonesian Education under President Soekarno’s administration. Ki Hajar Dewantara still tried to develop the educational system in Indonesia by his brilliant ideas. When President Soeharto commanded, Ki Hajar Dewantara was bestowed as “Bintang Mahaputera”. He was also called as a pioneer of the Indonesian Press. His birthday was celebrated as Education Day (Hari Pendidikan Nasional). He passed away on April 26th, 1959. His wife, Nyi Sutartinah, collected things which had been used by Ki Hajar and his family. There were about 3000 things, and then they were put at Dewantara Kirti Griya Museum, Yogyakarta.

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Fariz Ghazzan

Student college of Marketing Management in State Polytechnic of Malang.

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