The tools of transition
Education and development in modern Southeast Asian history
in History, historians and development policy

In 1935, one of Java's greatest educators, Ki Hajar Dewantara, reflected on modern education and its accomplishments. Ki Hajar Dewantara's experience examplifies a broad grassroots education tradition across Southeast Asia but it also signals some of the tensions in the relationship between education and development over the longer term. This chapter provides a useful narrative of regional thinking about education and development in Southeast Asia, particularly during its key 'periods of transition'. The colonial origins of development can only be understood within a Southeast Asian narrative of the development of capacities and capabilities over a longer period of time, shaped by outside interventions that were not directly of the West. The chapter attempts to map some of the region's capacities and capabilities, and examines how they have been exploited by the formal educational sector. Education in Southeast Asia remains the focus of the state's most cherished visions of the future.

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