Intolerant schools a concern in Indonesia, but a humane approach is needed, experts say

JAKARTA, June 27 (Jakarta Post/ANN): The recent government crackdown on the radical Muslim mass organization Khilafatul Muslimin, which allegedly funds or is affiliated with a number of educational institutions across the country, has sown new concerns about the threat of intolerant upbringing in schools.

Authorities cracked down on the group, believed to be seeking to replace Pancasila’s state ideology with the caliphate, following a series of public outings by the group in Jakarta in late May.

Police have now arrested two dozen members, including their leader Abdul Qadir Hasan Baraja, for violating the 2017 Mass Organizations Law.

Educators say the discovery of dozens of Islamic boarding schools run by the Khilafatul Muslimin should be a cause for concern, calling on the government to step up oversight and guidance of schools down to the local level.

“The poor oversight of the ministries of education and religious affairs is something we all deplore,” Feriyansyah of the Education and Teachers Association (P2G) said in a press release last week.

“How schools, suspected of being affiliated or even protected by the [Khilafatul Muslimin], go unnoticed for decades. It is a fatal collective failure,” he added.

The Deputy Secretary General of the Association of Indonesian Teachers (PGRI), Dudung Abdul Qodir, also urged the government to review its school monitoring system, saying it should not be difficult to screen radical schools as long as the government uses a more hands-on approach.

According to Dudung, the government should start by providing support and guidance to teachers and school administrators to ensure education is in line with the national ideology.

“I’m sure if it’s done right, there won’t be any radical schools [teaching]. This is why the government must reassess its approach, build a national network [of schools] with a more holistic approach to education,” Dudung said on Wednesday.

Charge of treason

Authorities said Khilafatul Muslimin’s control of some 30 Islamic boarding schools across the country was further grounds for arrest, as these schools violated the 2003 National Education Act by indoctrinating students with the teachings of the Caliphate.

“These schools are based on the caliphate, and [students] never learned Pancasila [ideology]as required by the 1945 Constitution. [They] learned to obey only the caliphate and not the government,” said Jakarta Police Director for General Criminal Investigations, Sr. Comr. Hengki Haryadi, said at a press conference last week, quoted by Kompas.

Head of the National Anti-Terrorism Agency (BNPT), Comr. General Boy Rafli Amar said on Monday that the BNPT would provide guidance to students whose schools had been closed and had begun to coordinate with relevant ministries to provide a longer-term solution.

However, Boy did not reveal the number of school closures, saying the government was still collecting data on this.

“Ministries, from the central level to the regional administration, are finding the best solution for the students whose schools have been closed,” said Boy, quoted by Kompas, adding that these students deserved an explanation on the closure of their school. .

Humanitarian approach

Although the recent discovery of schools under the Khilafatul Muslimin banner is not the country’s first fight against radicalism and intolerance in educational institutions, experts have continued to stress the importance of prioritizing a more humanitarian approach. to solve the problem.

“I am sure that not all students of Muslim schools in Khilafatul subscribe to their ideology. This is why the government must focus on mapping the situation and de-radicalizing these students,” said Rakyan Adibrata, National Director of the International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP) on Wednesday. in Indonesia.

According to Rakyan, most Islamic boarding schools did not start out as radical educational institutions. But over time, individuals who subscribe to these teachings – mostly made up of people disillusioned with the state – could infiltrate these schools through teaching or administrative positions.

Once the government finds out about these radical schools, Rakyan continued, it should adopt a more diplomatic and peaceful approach, instead of just acting out of concern for national security.

“If an institution that opposes Pancasila is simply eradicated by force without regard to collateral damage, the cycle of hatred [against the state] just going to repeat. It is more important to guide them,” added Rakyan.

Echoing Rakyan, Muhamad Bill Robby, a researcher at the Center for Child Protection and Welfare at the University of Indonesia (Puskapa), urged the government to avoid school closures, saying a such a policy would make intolerant beliefs even more hidden and more difficult to detect in the future.

“Closures will only ‘sterilize’ children of radicalism or intolerance in schools, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be exposed to it through other channels, such as [the school’s] alumni, informal student-teacher relationships outside of school or social media,” Bill said Wednesday.

Puskapa, Bill continued, recommends that the government ensure that schools develop students’ critical thinking, as this would help provide students with a broader perspective on issues of identity, as well as media and digital literacy. . – Jakarta Post/ANN

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