Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Balai Muslimin And The Memories of Tan Malaka in Semarang

The Balai Muslimin building, in Kampung Gendong, Sarirejo, Semarang Timur, taken on 2013 as appeared on the articles of Majalah Historia. The condition were badly damaged with the original facade were hard to be rcognized.
Happy Ramadhan all! Long time no post, several activity whack up my time to write, then in the ends of months like this, I gotta share something that I got couple days ago, about kinda untold story coming from Kampung Gendong about an abandoned building called Balai Muslimin. Less people know about the fact about this building that closely related to the figure of Tan Malaka,” the Che Guevara from Asia”. Then the story goes…

Tan Malaka, is an Indonesian independence activist, once the leader of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), thus He’s story were little bit undiscovered yet, related to his origin, an Let-wing activist. Here ini Semarang, we’ve got his legacy, the Balai Muslimin, once used by Tan Malaka as His Sarekat Rakyat School  who become the role model of the school broke the rules of the indigenous people educational system under the Dutch. He thought that the educational system, especially that applied to the low-class people, were discriminated, its only purposed to  formed the lower-class worker. In the Inlandsch School (Indigenous School) or  in the Volksch School (People’s School, in Javanese known as Ongko Loro, related to the period that only takes for two years) its only emphasized to the counting and reading ability. Only the rich inlander (Indonesian people) could afford the well-education school, like the son of regents, government employee, landowner, etc. Thus, Tan Malaka established its Sarekat Rakyat School, that inspired from the Dutch and Russian. According to the historian, Harry A Poeze, Tan Malaka once reads an articles about the communist school curriculum, and another inspiration is that his experience when He works in Deli Tobacco Plantantion, that the knowledge to be learned, is must based on the local genius. 

In a brochure entitled SI Semarang and Onderwijs published on 1921, Tan Malaka explained the reason and purpose of this Sarekat Rakyat School. First, the need for education and science skills such as numeracy, writing, geography, and language. Secondly, the organization education and politics. Those were required to developing  a strong personality, self-confidence, self-esteem, and social sensitivity. The last points he wrotes, the education must evoked the sense of humanity. 

The first day of the "Tan School", there are fifty students came to register. The school then held a ceremony for its new students together with their parents who attended the SI (Sarekat Islam) board of Semarang. After the inauguration procession, the students wearing the red shorts, marches with singing “The Internationale”. The attendances applauded. It just the starting point to the Sarekat Rakyat School to become greater. New students continued to arrive, up to 200 students applied. Dozens of people were also applied to be the teacher.

The Sarekat Rakyat School in Semarang, taken on 1917.
(source: Menjadi Indonesia)
In the Balai Muslimin, during the morning, its functioned as school, The Sarekat Rakyat School . then on afternoon, Tan Malaka held a course for the teachers. The establishment of a news kind of “Volks School” in Semarang soon spread to the other areas. Some big cities in Java established a school similar with the Sarekat Rakyat School in their own region. In Bandung for examples, its gain a short times after those in Semarang to established a branch of Sarekat Rakyat School.

Nowadays, the Balai Muslimin was totaly abandoned. The damaged of its roof were getting worst, on the left side its collapsed already. During the hard rain, its often getting flood, endangered the floor tile. Sooner or later, if there's no immediate conservations efforts, it will be destroyed and gone forever.

Source: Tempo edisi khusus, Peniup Suling bagi Anak Kuli, 2008

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