Perbaungan, Sumatra Utara, Indonesia
Fellow Since 2000
This profile was prepared when Bapak Sudarno was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
As Indonesia emerges from three decades of authoritarian rule, civil society is surveying the aftermath of repressive government. One casualty among many is the education system, once molded to fit the state's program of social control, and still rigidly conformed to that shape despite the new growth going on around it. Sudarno works to create what he calls "NGO schools"–centers that employ new ways of teaching and learning to foster critical thinking and social consciousness, particularly in poor rural areas that had been systematically victimized by government policies or programs. His first comprehensive effort in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, teaches students aged thirteen to nineteen. Plans are underway for two more schools in neighboring communities, while Sudarno is promoting his work among farm and labor groups in Central Java and is looking to work in Aceh.