Snapshots with Stories

24 – ‘Klein Klooster’ in Jakarta

The courtyard between the boarding school and the monastery, with the Holy Heart image

Overview of the complex ‘Klein Klooster’. On the left below is the boarding school and right the monastery. Left above is the school and at top right the cathedral

Two Chinese students from the upper classes

In the 1950’s ‘Klein Klooster’ (Small Monastery) was iconic for many Chinese families. It was a Sisters Ursulines boarding school in Jakarta, located at Jalan Pos 2, where many Chinese girls resided in order to follow secondary education. Just as the Jesuits dedicated themselves in educating boys, the Ursulines were engaged in the education for young girls. General education had more importance than the teaching of domestic skills. Klein Klooster was well-respected in the field of education.

Pupils came from all corners of Indonesia, mostly because there was no facility for secondary education in the area where they came from. As grade school was deemed important by their parents, there was enough reason for sending them to Klein Klooster for an extended period of time. Often, these girls and sometimes their sisters as well, were boarders for the length of their entire education, and only returned home during school vacations if, taking the distance into consideration, it was at all possible during short breaks.

Boarding and school were joined with the convent and were located on the grounds of the cathedral of Jakarta. It was entirely possible that, if one had no relatives in Jakarta who could visit and take you out, that life was limited to these premises for weeks on end. The days had a certain pattern with fixed times for waking up, meal times, church attendance, studies, leisure. We slept in a large room, divided into ‘chambrettes’ (small private spaces) by way of curtains only. A Sister Ursuline woke us in the morning: Mère Clementine, if memory serves me well. She clapped her hands, giving the sign to get up, and immediately began the morning prayer, whereby we were required to take part while kneeling before our beds. The curtain would sometimes be pushed aside to check if we weren’t still in bed.

I was in boarding school from 1950 to 1952, for the first two years of HBS. It was a life totally different from what I was accustomed to. Going home during the vacation was not an undiluted pleasure, as I knew that the time at home would soon come to an end. When my mother’s health necessitated a move from Cheribon to Bandung, I could go to the Christian Lyceum there. I consider the years at Klein Klooster a special and informative time in my life.

Patricia Tjiook-Liem, November 2014