Tuesday, September 26, 2023 | 12:37 WIB

Revisiting the STOVIA student movement that sparks National Awakening


Jakarta, IO – Every May 20, Indonesia commemorates the National Awakening Day (Harkitnas) which gave rise to sense of national unity.

Harkitnas was designated by President Soekarno, two years after Indonesia gained its independence. At that time, the first president of Indonesia saw the need for a symbol to unify the nation against all forms of colonialism.

May 20 was chosen because it was the day Budi Utomo, the first Indonesian nationalist organization was founded (in 1908), reported Kompas.tv.

Budi Utomo was established by a number of STOVIA (School tot Opleiding van Indische Arsten) students, including Dr. Soetomo, Soeraji Tirtonegoro and Goenawan Mangoenkoesoemo.

Another influential figure is Dr. Wahidin Soedirohusodo, an alumnus of STOVIA who zealously campaigned for financial assistance for the education of outstanding indigenous students. He conceived the idea of educating the nation through ‘studiefonds’ (education funds) so they would not be easily divided by the colonialists.

This movement finally sparked the spirit of nationalism within Soetomo and his fellow students to form Budi Utomo. Initially, the organization only engaged in social and cultural matters. A number of schools named Boedi Oetomo were founded to promote Javanese culture. In 1915, they started to get involved in politics.

Read: A Closer Look At Karangasem King’s Recreational Palace In Tumbu Village, Bali

In its journey, Boedi Oetomo strove to promote nationalism to pave way for Indonesian independence. In 1947, the Dutch launched military aggression.

Amid the social and political turmoil, the capital was moved from Jakarta to Yogyakarta. At that time, the Indonesian nation needed a unifying symbol. Bung Karno selected the day of Boedi Oetomo founding to strengthen the Indonesian people’s resolve against the colonialists. (un)


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