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Rebo nyunda: Is it decolonising early childhood education in Bandung, Indonesia?

Abstract

Since 2012, Indonesia has been obsessed with the notion of melestarikan budaya lokal (preserving local culture) as part of Indonesian Cultures. In West Java, Indonesia, the cultural revitalisation program is called “Rebo Nyunda”. Rebo means Wednesday; nyunda means being Sundanese. Sunda is the dominant ethnic group in West Java and the second largest ethnic group in Indonesia. Childhood often becomes a site for implanting ideologies, including nationalist ideology through the rhetoric of anti-West. Rebo Nyunda is expected to be able to shape future generations with strong cultural roots and unshaken by negative foreign ideas. Using focus group discussions this paper investigates the extent to which teachers understand Rebo Nyunda as a mean of cultural resistance to foreign forces amid the wholesale adoption of early childhood education doctrines from the West, such as the internationalisation of early childhood education, developmentally appropriate practices, neuroscience for young children, child-centred discourse, economic investment and the commercialisation of childhood education. This paper examines the complexity of and contradictions in teachers’ perceptions of Rebo Nyunda in Bandung, a city considered a melting pot of various ethnic groups in Indonesia.

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