Every May for the Indonesian nation has its own historical meaning, apart from May 2 we commemorate National Education Day, there is a special moment in May, namely National Awakening Day which is celebrated every May 20.
Starting on May 20, 1908 as a milestone in the rise of Indonesian nationalism to fight colonialism in the Dutch East Indies at that time. In its development, there were five stages of nationalism in Indonesia, namely the pioneering period (before 1908), the affirming period (1928), the testing period (1938), the breaking period (1945), and the implementing period (1945 up to now).
The national awakening was marked by the birth of the Budi Utomo Organization on May 20, 1908 by Dr. Wahidin Soedirohoesodo and Dr. Soetomo. This intellectual social organization unites the spirit of national unity and integrity to realize the independence of the Indonesian nation. The dream of wanting to be independent finally came true on August 17, 1945. This is proof that the independence of a nation is realized by the unity and integrity of the nation itself.
National awakening is a way to fill independence with development in all fields, including the development of social welfare. The national awakening is to remember how the fighting spirit of the Indonesian people in the past was to fill independence with various development activities.
Definition of National Awakening
The Indonesian National Awakening was the period in the first half of the 20th century in the archipelago (now Indonesia), when the Indonesian people began to develop a sense of national consciousness as “Indonesians”. This period was marked by two important events, namely the founding of Budi Utomo (20 May 1908) and the Pledge of the Youth Pledge (28 October 1928).
In order to pursue economic gains and dominate regional administration, the Dutch imposed a colonial system of government on people who previously had no common political identity. In the early 20th century, the Dutch established territorial boundaries in the Dutch East Indies, which became the forerunner of modern Indonesia.
In the first half of the 20th century, a number of new leadership organizations emerged. Through the policy of the Ethical Policy, the Netherlands helped create a group of educated Indonesians. This profound change in the Indonesian people is often referred to as the “Indonesian National Awakening”. This event coincided with an increase in political activity which culminated in the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence on August 17, 1945. The national awakening was also caused by the inclusion of the development of minds from young people.
Factors Driving National Awakening
Broadly speaking, the driving factors for national awakening are divided into two, namely external and internal factors. Internal factors include prolonged suffering due to colonialism; memories of past glories, such as during the Sriwijaya or Majapahit Kingdoms; and the emergence of intellectuals who became leaders of the movement.
The external factors include the emergence of new ideas in Europe and America such as nationalism, liberalism and socialism; the emergence of national awakening movements in Asia such as the Young Turks, the Indian National Congress, and Gandhism; and Japan’s victory over Russia in the Japan-Russia war which awakened countries in Asia to fight against the West.
Agricultural school students in Tegalgondo, Central Java, circa 1900–1940.
At the start of the 20th century, Indonesians with secondary education were virtually non-existent and since then, the Ethical Policy has enabled the expansion of secondary educational opportunities for indigenous Indonesians. In 1925, the colonial government’s focus shifted to providing three years of basic vocational education.
By 1940, more than 2 million students were in school, bringing the literacy rate up to 6.3 percent recorded in the 1930 census. Dutch secondary education opened up new horizons and opportunities, and was in great demand among Indonesians.
In 1940, between 65,000 and 80,000 Indonesian students attended Dutch or Dutch-supported primary schools, or the equivalent of 1 percent of the appropriate age group. Around the same time, there were 7,000 Indonesian students in Dutch secondary schools. Most high school students attend MULOs.
Despite the relatively small number of students enrolled in the total school-age cohort, Dutch secondary education was of high quality and from the 1920s began to produce a new educated Indonesian elite.
2. Indonesian Nationalism
The delegates who attended the Youth Pledge agreed on an Indonesian framework, especially the same national language.
Member of the Indonesian National Party, one of the main pro-independence organizations.
The application of the Ethical Policy in the field of education did not provide extensive educational opportunities for the Dutch East Indies population, but only provided Dutch education for the children of the indigenous elite. Much of the education was intended to provide clerical labor for the growing colonial bureaucracy. Nonetheless, Western education brought with it Western political ideas of freedom and democracy. During the 1920s and 30s, this educated elite group began to voice a revival of anti-colonialism and national consciousness.
During this period, Indonesian political parties began to emerge. The establishment of Budi Utomo on May 20, 1908 by Dr. Soetomo is seen as the beginning of the movement to achieve Indonesian independence. The date of the founding of Budi Utomo is commemorated as National Awakening Day.
However, the determination of the time still invites discussions that generate polemics. The basis for selecting Budi Utomo as the pioneer of national revival was questioned because Budi Utomo’s membership was still limited to Javanese ethnicity and territoriality. The national awakening was considered to be more represented by Sarekat Islam, which had members throughout the Dutch East Indies.
In 1912, Ernest Douwes Dekker together with Cipto Mangunkusumo and Suwardi Suryaningrat founded the Indische Partij (Indies Party). In the same year, the Sarekat Dagang Islam founded by Haji Samanhudi transformed from a cooperative of batik traders into a political organization. In addition, KH Ahmad Dahlan founded Muhammadiyah, an organization that is social and engaged in education.
In November 1913, Suwardi Suryaningrat formed the Boemi Poetera Committee. The committee criticized the Dutch government which intended to celebrate one hundred years of the independence of the Netherlands from French colonialism, but with a celebration party paid for by the colonies. He also wrote ” Als ik eens Nederlander was ” (“I wish I was a Dutchman”) which was published in Douwes Dekker’s de Expresm newspaper . It was because of this writing that Suwardi Suryaningrat was sentenced to exile by the Dutch colonial government.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), formed in 1920, was an independence-fighting party wholly inspired by European politics. In 1926, the PKI attempted to revolutionize through a revolt that panicked the Dutch, who then arrested and exiled thousands of communists thereby effectively neutralizing the PKI for the remainder of the Dutch occupation.
On 4 July 1927, Sukarno and the Algemeene Studieclub initiated the establishment of the United National Indonesia as a new political party. In May 1928, the party’s name was changed to the Indonesian National Party. According to historian MC Ricklefs, this was the first important political party to have ethnic Indonesian members who only aspired to political independence.
On October 28, 1928, the Youth Congress declared the Youth Pledge, which set a nationalist goal: “one homeland – Indonesia, one nation – Indonesia, and one language – Indonesia”.
The meaning of National Awakening Day
The celebration of National Awakening Day has the aim of always renewing the values of unity, unity and nationalism of each Indonesian people. Because basically these values need to be updated and improved so that the sustainability of the Indonesian state is maintained. Through love for the country, it is hoped that it can apply the spirit of nationalism to positive things that are useful for the Indonesian state.
As a form of gratitude for the services of the freedom fighters during the colonial period, independence should have been filled with development in all fields. This aims to make Indonesia a developed country and can compete with other countries. That way, the struggle of the figures can be paid off by building a better Indonesia.
National Awakening Day can be a source of the spirit of nationalism and public awareness to join the organization as a way to foster a sense of unity. The National Awakening Day functions as a whiplash for the enthusiasm of the younger generation to continue to prepare themselves to face increasingly competitive competition and always maintain unity between nations.
Quoted from Pancasila and Citizenship Education by Yuyus Kardiman, et al, the following is the significance of national revival for the younger generation:
- National awakening can be interpreted as a rise from adversity to reach the future. We can improve, improve, and also maintain the current achievements. As the younger generation, we must pursue the future by actively studying. In addition, we also have to apply Pancasila values within ourselves.
- National awakening can mean mastering skills that will be needed someday. One example is skills in the field of technology.
- National awakening can be interpreted as raising awareness of the importance of trying. This is needed so that we don’t give up and keep fighting for the best possible future.
Furthermore, the Minister of Communication and Informatics (Communication and Informatics) Johny Gerard Plate, quoted from an article on National Awakening in his speech at the 113th anniversary of National Awakening Day stated that the commemoration of National Awakening is the starting point in building awareness to move to overcome various problems of the Indonesian nation.
One of the problems the nation is currently facing is the limited implementation of formal education due to the pandemic. The challenge for teachers is even greater because they must be demanded to be able to present the next generation of young people who have character and a global outlook for the sake of the continuity of the country in the future.
It is through the moment of National Awakening that all stakeholders involved in the education sector are reminded to continue to maintain and strengthen the spirit of gotong royong as the basis for implementing the development of Indonesian education so that they are optimistic and progressive under any circumstances.
The phrase from John F. Kennedy is very appropriate to describe how to arouse people’s support for the state. “Don’t ask what your country has given you, but ask what you can give your country.” This sentence illustrates that the people are required to make sacrifices by the state in order to build, advance, and foster a sense of belonging as an inseparable part of the country itself.
Through a long process, the founding fathers of the state formulated Pancasila as the basis of the state which was excavated from the culture, norms, customs and habits of the Indonesian people of various ethnicities, cultures, races and religions. It is increasingly being felt now that the spirit of patriotism, nationalism and heroism as a nation is starting to fade. Pancasila as the inspirational values embodied in the five precepts as the foundation of the state has been increasingly abandoned and forgotten.
There are many indications that point to this, such as the occurrence of corruption cases, moral and ethical crises, the tendency of people to prioritize their own interests, groups or parties rather than public and public interests, the occurrence of clashes between religious groups, the behavior of those in power who are far from attitude of decency and not being able to set a good example to society and even the emergence of indications of treason against the state.
Many ways can be done to revive the spirit of nationalism and love for the motherland. Revive a sense of belonging to the country, don’t bring up feelings of hatred towards the country. Avoid being indifferent to environmental conditions, both within the family, community and state development environment.
Many irregularities in the administration of the state are carried out by certain individuals, so that a distinction must be made between the position of the state and government officials. Especially in corruption cases which are still happening and reaching almost all fields, even though law enforcement efforts have been made. However, all these efforts seem to have no impact whatsoever and acts of corruption have not been reduced, let alone to approach zero.
Love and pride as Indonesian citizens must not fade even though the authority of the government has been abused and abused by elements who are unable to maintain their honor as public officials. Reflect and re-understand the goals and ideals of the formation of this country. The relentless struggle with the sacrifice of wealth and the lives of the nation’s predecessors has made Indonesia an independent country.
The archipelago that stretches from Sabang to Merauke has been united into an inseparable part. Various threats and events that tried to shake Indonesia’s integrity as a nation were successfully resolved. Will the current generation no longer be able to survive all threats to maintain Indonesia’s authority as a nation?
Implement state defense education or basic military training for all citizens who are of legal age. But unfortunately this discourse has not fully received support from all parties. The bill on state defense is still being debated at the legislative level and is far from being realized. In fact, building character and love for the motherland will be an important capital for the process of developing people’s personalities which will affect the attitude of being willing to sacrifice for the country. Just like what was done by the U-23 Indonesian National Team by practicing in the military style to increase motivation and a sense of togetherness to strengthen the spirit of competing to win on the gridiron.
With a spirit of nationalism and a sense of pride, we can play an active role in the development process for national independence. Wherever we are, no matter how small our profession is and how small our role is, we must be oriented towards nationality. Based on the spirit of patriotism, every Indonesian person will have an independent spirit, a soul who understands his identity, a soul who understands his needs, a soul who is ready and able to sacrifice for the betterment of his nation and country.
Let’s rise together through struggle and sacrifice with energy, funds and work to advance our beloved nation and country. If not us, who else? If not now, when? Start everything from yourself and start from small things, with hard work and real work. Hope, passion, and belief in a resurrection are imperatives that cannot be negotiated.
The meaning of national awakening must be maintained and actualized across generations and always applied within a dynamic framework according to the context of the times. The spirit of national awakening teaches us to always be optimistic about the future. We face all challenges and problems together as heirs to the resilience of this nation.
National Awakening Day reminds us of the spirit to move as a nation regardless of differences in ethnicity, religion, race and class. Our dream is to step on the gas to spur the economy and progress of civilization as a symbol of the nation’s awakening towards Digital Indonesia.
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