By: Atiek Rachmawati, S.S
(Alumnus of Local Literature Study Program FSSR UNS (Now FIB) of 1999/Javanese Literature Teacher in SMA N 2 Grabag, Magelang)

The definition of congress, according to the Indonesia Dictionary, is a great meeting of the representatives of organizations (political, social, professional) to discuss and make decisions on various issues; conference; great meeting. Meanwhile, the definition of ‘Aksara (letter)’ from the Indonesia Dictionary is a graphics coding system used by humans to communicate and to represent speech. The Javanese letter (script) revers to the letters used to write down Javanese Literature and Language. The letters consist of 20 characters, starting with ‘HA’ and ended with ‘NGA.’

The Congress on Javanese Letters (KAJ) is an event to discuss the development, preservation, and problems that arise in Javanese writing command. This Congress was held initially in Sriwedari, Surakarta, in 1922. After several annual meetings, the institution finally established the ‘Wawaton Panyeratipun Tembung Jawi Mawi Sastra Dalasan Angka’ (Guidelines for Writing Javanese Characters with Javanese Script and Numbers) or better known as Wewaton Sriwedari in 1926 (https://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kongres_Aksara_Jawa).

This development is wonderful news that has long-awaited by the community, especially the practitioners of Javanese culture. Whereas after a vacuum of activity, KAJ was back on 22-26 March 2021. As mentioned by the Head of Culture Office (Disbud) DIY, Sumadi, at a press conference at the DIY Culture Office Hall on Friday (19/3/2021), the Congress aims for the public welfare. Moreover, concerns on how the current generation is lacking in their understanding of Javanese script.

The First KAJ in Yogyakarta was mainly held in the Grand Mercure Hotel Yogyakarta and was available through a virtual and face-to-face meeting with more than 1000 participants. The face-to-face meeting was attended by 110 people from academic representatives, practitioners, cultural practitioners, bureaucrats, and the public. Meanwhile, the virtual event was attended by 800 participants divided into four commissions, with 200 participants from each commission. Each of the commissions represents four crucial issues discussed in the 1st KAJ, namely the transliteration of Javanese script to Latin. The second is the Javanese scriptwriting rules, including the previous writing rules and the currently applicable rules. This aims to facilitate the synchronization with the digitalization of the script into the current technology advancement. The third is the digitization of Javanese script, which covers the technical Digital Javanese Characters platform preparation, standardization of Javanese typeface (fonts), and the standardization of Javanese script keyboard. Fourth is to discuss the current policy regarding the usage of the Javanese character in daily life to support its implementation in the public domain.( https://koranbernas.id/)

Considering the number of participants, which according to the committee, even reaching 2,000 applicants, this Congress shows the still high interest and strong will to preserve Javanese characters. The Javanese characters used in Derah Istimewa Yogyakarta, Jawa Tengah, and Jawa Timur have a significant users. In the education curriculum, these characters are taught as part of Local Wisdom, even though it has a limited implementation in daily life. Hence, Javanese characters have various historical values that are implemented interchangeably.

The use of Javanese characters with a limited implementation indirectly affects its preservation efforts as part of the Javanese culture. The ambiguity within the Javanese script’s teaching and learning process at elementary and middle school made it become a difficult subject for the students.

The 1st KAJ at least brings new hope to the education sector to better strengthen the Javanese characters subject within the Local Wisdom curriculum. However, applicable standardization and regulations are needed, especially for the elementary and middle education levels. 

The division of the Congress into four commissions to discuss essential issues in the protection, security, rescue, and maintenance of Javanese script, is appropriate, as it has accommodated the various efforts taken to preserve the characters. Considering the participants who came from various sectors and the support from the governments, both the central government and regional one, it is enough that we hope the outcome of the Congress can accommodate and realize all the various preservation efforts. The establishment of a formula as the mandate of Congress should be legalized to reach the grassroots of the community, followed by structured and massive dissemination.

As an author, I want to believe and trust my hope to this Congress. Firstly, my wish is for the formula for the standardization of Javanese characters (transliteration and writing system), whether to use the Wewaton Sriwedari, KBJ, of a new standard from the KAJ. This effort aims to facilitate and attract the community interest to learn the characters. Secondly is for the legal basis for the implementation, such as Perda DIY No. 2 of 2021 on the Maintenance and Development, Language, Literature, and Javanese script, Perda Jateng No. 9 of 2012 regarding Javanese Language, Literature and Script, and Regulation No. 55 of 2014 regarding the use of Javanese script that is applied and controlled in all public, private and public institutions. Thirdly, the effort to socialize the use of Javanese Script by involving the regional government, such as the use of the script to accompanying the Latin script on every nameplate of public, private, and public institutions (like the one applied by Bali Regional Government, DIY, Surakarta City Government, and several regions in Central Java), and building name (mall, resto, cafe dan lain-lain). Fourth is the activation of Javanese script communities / studios / training, which involves academics, practitioners, and cultural observers with previously held Javanese script training to the youth level. Fifth is promoting regional tourism by prioritizing tourism/cultural villages and tourist/cultural villages, which in addition to highlighting regional culture, also features Javanese script in every building and local product packaging/tourist souvenirs.

Sixth is the dissemination of Javanese Script through all media to bring Javanese script closer to the millennial generation who are familiar with the digital world. Enjoy the congress, all the cultural observers. Wish the congress went smoothly and creating a new formula for the Javanese script preservation. Salam budaya-lestari budayaku. Aksara Jawa-lestari dan ngrembaka anjayeng bawana. (***)

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