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Dewi Sartika, Education Pioneer for Women
Dewi Sartika was born in a renowned Sundanese family, her father was Raden Rangga Somanegara and her mother was Raden Ajeng Rajapermas, on December 4, 1884 in Bandung. She was the pioneer of education for women and was appointed as a national hero by Indonesian government in 1966.

Her father was a freedom fighter who was exiled by the Dutch East Indies to Ternate Island and died during his exile.

After her father died, Dewi Sartika was taken care by her uncle who was a government official in Cicalengka. Her uncle educated her about Sundanese culture, whilst her knowledge about Western culture came from a wife of a resident assistant.

Her interest in education and persistence in seeking improvement had been noticeable since she was young. While playing in the kepatihan palace backyard, Dewi Sartika often showed school practices and taught her play mates, the children of the palace’s servants, how to read, write and speak in Dutch. Shed wall, charcoal and roof tiles shard became her teaching aids.

It was when Dewi Sartika was about ten years old, and Cicalengka was in uproar by the servants’ children ability of reading, writing, and speaking a little Dutch. In that era, children, especially children of commoners, were rarely able to read, write and speak Dutch; moreover, these children were taught by a child.

With the help from her grandfather, R.A.A. Martanegara, and an official of the Education Inspector Office, Den Hamer, in 1904 Dewi Sartika managed to set up a school named Sakola Istri in Bandung. This women school was located in Pendopo Kabupaten Bandung. At the beginning, this school only had 20 students. These women were taught to count, read, write, sew and also religion. This school only had two class rooms which were insufficient to accommodate all of their activities. To fulfill the needs, Dewi Sartika borrowed some rooms in kepatihan building.

Dewi Sartika devoted herself to educate her students to be a good housewife,  independent, elegant, and skillful. Therefore, most subjects taught in her school were concerning the household matters.  Sakola Istri continued to get positive attention from the society; the students were growing. Rooms in Kepatihan building were no longer sufficient to accommodate the students. Therefore, Sakola Istri was moved to a bigger place.

Dewi Sartika worked hard to raise fund for her school operational costs. She did not consider her hard work as a burden, Instead, she felt satisfied because she could manage to educate her students. Besides supports from many parties, the main support for Dewi Sartika was from her husband, Raden Kanduruhan Agah Suriawinata, whose she married in 1906. Her husband helped her a lot in her fight and realizing her ideals. Raden Kanduruhan Agah Suriawinata was a teacher in Sekolah Karang Pamulang, someone who had the same vision and ideals with Dewi Sartika.

During the following years, several Sakola Istri were established in several Pasundan regions. Sakola Istri schools were particularly organized by Sundanese women that had the same ideals with Dewi Sartika. In 1912, there were nine Sakola Istri schools in various cities.

In 1914, ten years after the first Sakola Istri were established, the school name was changed into Sakola Kautamaan Istri. Not only the name, education subjects were also improved. In Pasundan, there were only one or two cities that had not had Sakola Kautamaan Istri. There was one Sakola Kautamaan Istri in Bukittinggi, West Sumatera which was founded by Encik Rama Saleh. In 1920, all cities and regencies in Pasundan had Sakola Kautamaan Istri.

In September 1929, on the 25th anniversary of her school, Dewi Sartika changed her school's name to Sakola Raden Dewi. In the 35th anniversary of her school, she was awarded the Orde van Oranje-Nassau by the Dutch East Indies as the appreciation for her service in education.

Dewi Sartika passed away on September 11, 1947 in Tasikmalaya and was buried in Cigagadon cemetary, Desa Rahayu, Cineam with a humble funeral. Three years later she was reburied in the cemetery of Bupati Bandung at Jalan Karang Anyar, Bandung.

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