The Minangkabau Response to Dutch Colonial Rule Nineteenth Century

By Elizabeth E. Graves | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
EPILOGUE: MINANGKABAU
IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

By the turn of the century, the increasing numbers of Minangkabau desiring civil service or other government-related careers intensified the pressure on the Dutch administration to enlarge local schools and admit more pupils. Although formerly, reading and writing Malay plus good “references” had assured graduates of eventual appointment to higher positions, by the early twentieth century so many qualified applicants were available that literacy in Dutch was becoming a new standard for employment in the upper echelons. This resulted more from upgrading the requirements for existing jobs than opening new, higher-level jobs to Minangkabau. The Indies administration had not expanded enough to absorb all the elementary or even secondary school graduates.

The demand to learn Dutch became so great among the Minangkabau that anyone with the slightest knowledge of the language would establish a backyard school giving crash courses to aspiring civil servants and professionals. Those who had any influence with the Dutch government pressured to gain admittance for their children in the various European elementary schools in West Sumatra. In 1909, it was reported that over onethird of the total pupils at the European schools in West Sumatra were nonEuropean, and without the stringent quota system governing admittance to these schools, the proportion would have been even higher.1

In an ironic twist of fate, the Dutch regime’s growing recognition of the need for increased secular education for Indonesians adversely affected

1 Report of the Inspector of Education for Sumatra’s West Coast, Grivel, March 22, 1909, Verbaal, October 18, 1910, No. 23.

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