Dutch language in education in post sovereignty Indonesia: 1949-1950s

Natasia Nadia, R. Achmad Sunjayadi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


After the transfer of Indonesia's sovereignty on December 27, 1949, there was no place for Dutch in Indonesia to be the language of administration or the medium of instruction, especially in education. Dutch was then replaced by Bahasa Indonesia. However, there were still Indonesians who mastered the Dutch language and read textbooks published in Dutch. This signifies a problem in the implementation of educational activities in Indonesia at the time. There are not many discussions about the Dutch language in Indonesia's education in the decolonization period as existing research mainly focus on education per se. Therefore, the significance of this study is to reveal the role of language in Indonesian education, especially in the decolonization period. This chapter reveals the situation of the Dutch language in Indonesian education from the transfer of Indonesia's sovereignty on December 27, 1949 to the 1950s. To reveal the situation on the period, this work applies historical method, which consists of heuristic, source criticism, interpretation, and historiography. The work also benefits from various primary and secondary sources, such as the archive inventory of the Republic of Indonesia's period in Yogyakarta (1949-1950), the inventory of the Prime Minister's Cabinet of Yogyakarta (1949-1950), and news from Antara news agency. These sources are obtained from the collection of National Archives of the Republic of Indonesia, Jakarta. Other primary sources include news and articles on the Dutch language in Indonesia's education from Dutch-language newspapers published in Indonesia and the Netherlands in 1949-1950s, such as De Vrije Pers, De Preanger Bode, De Java Bode, De Locomotief, Het Nieuwsblad voor Sumatra, Algemeen Handelsblad, Nieuwe Courant, and Nieuwsblad van Noorden. The result shows that several issues are related to the Dutch language in Indonesia's education, such as the Dutch language still being used in secondary school and college, the use of English in education, and the translation of Dutch textbooks to Indonesian. The argument of this chapter is that the aftermath of the transfer of Indonesia's sovereignty on December 27, 1949 was the low point of the Dutch language in education in Indonesia. The application of Bahasa Indonesia as the medium of instruction and anti-Dutch sentiments were important catalysts for the downfall of Dutch language usage in Indonesian education. In practice, there were various efforts to defend and eliminate Dutch from the realm of Indonesian education.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOn Language, Education, Politics, and Identity
Subtitle of host publicationA Cross-Linguistics Perspective
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781536193374
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2021


  • Decolonization in Indonesia
  • Indonesia's education
  • The Dutch language in Indonesia
  • Transfer of sovereignty over Indonesia


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