History of Indonesia in colonial era deserves a prominent place in Dutch education
The history of Indonesia during the era when it was a colony known as the Dutch East Indies must be given a prominent place in education curricula, concluded a committee tasked with studying the issue. The attention paid to the history is still “very” fragmented, the committee said.
This can also be resolved with new public memorials and artwork to make the colonial era history more visible. A special co-curator should also be designated to ensure that museum collections in this space become more accessible to everyone.
The Committee on Strengthening Knowledge of the History of the Former Dutch East Indies was led by Jet Bussemaker, a former education minister. The committees findings were scheduled to be presented Wednesday afternoon to Maarten van Ooijen, the state secretary for health, welfare, and sport, in The Hague. Van Ooijen’s ministry commissioned the study.
In formulating its advice, the committee said it consulted Dutch-Indonesian people, and people of Moluccan or Papuan heritage, as well as Indonesians descendant from Chinese people. The committee also spoke with representatives of the education sector and the culture and heritage sector.
The schools in the Netherlands do have an abundance of material available on the subject and also make sure the history is taught, but according to the committee the degree in which it is included is still too dependent on the teacher’s involvement. However, if it is embedded in the primary and secondary education curriculum, the approach can improve for all students. Prospective teachers also need to become more skilled in discussing this aspect history. This will also help them when slavery, discrimination and immigration are more widely discussed.
Museums already do a great deal, the committee acknowledged, but many exhibitions are temporary and are made with help and knowledge from outsiders. “As a result, acquired knowledge and insights threaten to quickly disappear.” Such a co-curator is also appointed to build a sustainable network, with the aim of drawing up a knowledge development and research agenda.
The committee also pointed out opportunities for better cooperation between education and cultural institutions and proposed organizing an annual, national theme week about the colonial history of the Netherlands, together with the public broadcasting system.
The committee also believes that the history of the Dutch East Indies and Indonesia should also be emphatically involved in initiatives such as the forthcoming national Slavery Museum. An online platform could also promote the exchange and accessibility of knowledge and educational materials and at the same time provide space for dialogue. This too should be connected to the Slavery Museum.
According to the committee, there are “many different perspectives” when it comes to this history and that a multifaceted approach must also be reflected in all proposed initiatives, including the involvement of diverse communities.