Creating an “Indonesian New Man”: The Thoughts of Njoto on Education

Rhoma Dwi Aria Yuliantri

PhD Candidate in Humanities, Universitas Gadjah Mada and lecturer at Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta

The aim of this paper is to examine the thoughts of Njoto on education. Njoto was a member of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and a political activist who was engaged in the reform of post-War Indonesian education. During the 1950s, he widely published on anti-imperialist education in contemporary newspapers and magazines, and read his thoughts in the PKI’s meetings and in consecutive training programs. This paper argues that Njoto relied on non-formal education more than on formal schooling for creating the “new man” of independent Indonesia. This was evident from the educational philosophy, strategy and means that he explored in his writings. Njoto believed non-formal education would allow people from a wide range of social and economic backgrounds to participate and to get actively involved without being limited by age, sex and social status. While Njoto’s assertion on non-formal education was motivated by his agenda to spread his Party’s ideology, his distrust on formal school was triggered by his limited schooling experience. Njoto was a prototype of an Indonesian thinker in the early independence period that expanded his intellectual capacity by becoming an autodidact.


Rhoma Dwi Aria Yuliantri is a PhD Candidate in Humanities at Universitas Gadjah Mada. She is a lecturer at Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta. Her research focuses on Indonesian cultural history between 1950 and 1966. Her publications include: Lekra Tidak Membakar Buku (2007) and Tracing the Indonesian Musical Stage (2012).


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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