University of Tasmania
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Post-colonial citizenship education : a critical study of the Production and reproduction of the Indonesian civic ideal

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posted on 2023-05-26, 03:18 authored by Kalidjernih, FK
This study explores the inculcation of the civic ideal through the education system in Indonesia since its inception, and particularly during the New Order period. It seeks to show which factors, apart from the interests of successive regimes, have made the construction of the civic ideal possible. Based on a critical approach to the analysis of texts, it argues that the role of Indonesian citizenship education, exemplified by the student textbooks produced in the last decade of New Order Indonesia, has been to regulate the moral reasoning and behaviour of Indonesian citizens on two dimensions: the relations between the state and Indonesian citizens, and the relations between citizens. Indonesia's state ideology, National Constitution and the notion of 'integral state', coupled with the sociological approach of structural-functionalism, were employed as the guiding principles in narrating the nation. These instruments were used to legitimate the authoritarian rule of the former New Order regime. The strategy of overemphasing the importance of macro-social ideology neglected micro-social interactions. In an attempt to forge national integration and identity, a conformist perspective was imposed to legitimate the suppression of cultural differences and individual rights. This study argues that the structure and culture of post-colonial Indonesia made it possible for the regime to establish its ideological hegemony, and to reproduce the people's culture through the textbooks. The regime was able to treat these post-colonial conditions as 'resource' that enabled it to legitimate its hegemony, and at the same time, reproduce 'norms' which the people were required to practice. Instead of empowering the people, these norms constrained them to act as 'good democratic citizens' in their mutual interaction in the context of 'modern society'. The situation was exacerbated by the incompatibility of many cultural values (particularly the Javanese world-view and ethics, and aspects of Islamic morality), and both the physical and economic structural conditions of post-colonial Indonesia. Moreover, contrary to the textbook writers' assumptions that Indonesia's national identity is fixed and stable, it is still undergoing a process of 'becoming'. As a site of writing the nation, Indonesian citizenship education attempted to fix Indonesian students' identity by enforcing obligations for collective welfare, and imposing a set of local (particularly Javanese) values, traditions and myths of historical continuity. This conceptual framework is now being fundamentally challenged by globalisation and democratic localism. The demise of the authoritarian regime in mid-1998 stimulated the introduction of a new national curriculum for citizenship education, intended to encourage active and participatory learning and promote democratic values. The adoption of elements of democracy means that individuals should enjoy greater 'freedom'. In the process of promoting democracy and human rights within the liberal tradition, the biggest question is the extent to which independent individuals are justified in choosing their own values. In this context, the imposition of republicanism with an emphasis on duties in the name of social cohesion or national interests - something which Indonesian citizenship still needs to do - will be greatly challenged by the demand for greater individual rights and democratic localism. This constitutes the greatest dilemma in the reinvention of Indonesian citizenship. This study suggests that in the implementation of the new citizenship education, post-colonial conditions should be taken into account, and citizenship should be viewed from the perspective of social exchange networks rather than a dyadic relation between state and citizen. If national and social identity based on the cultural and structural conditions of post-colonial Indonesia is not properly interpreted and discussed, and students are not encouraged to analyse the relationship between the 'text' and relevant social, political and economic contexts, it is likely that the mistakes of the past will be repeated.


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2005 the author.

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  • Open

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