Indonesian teachers struggle to instil tolerance

Majority of Islamic teachers rejected establishment of places of worship for other religions
Indonesian teachers struggle to instil tolerance

Young Muslims read the Koran at the Nurul Iman school in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali. A recent study reveals many Indonesian Islamic teachers are struggling to promote religious tolerance. (Photo by Sonny Tumbelaka / AFP)

February 6, 2017
A recently released study reveals that many Muslim teachers are struggling to promote religious tolerance in Indonesia.

The 2016 study released last week by the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM), found that 80 percent of Islamic education teachers refused to give shelter to the followers of Ahmadiyyah and Shia Islam, the two Islamic sects that are considered heretical by majority Sunni Muslims, according to a report in the Jakarta Post.

Moreover, the study, which was conducted in West Java, Banda Aceh, West Nusa Tenggara, South Sulawesi and Central Java, found 81 percent of Islamic education teachers rejected the establishment of places of worship for religions other than Islam and 78 percent of them believed non-Muslims should not be allowed to teach in Islamic schools.

While the PPIM study does not necessarily represent all Islamic education teachers in the country, with the survey conducted in cities widely known as conservative bastions, it has been seen as a wakeup call for reform in Islamic education and better training for the people who teach it so that they can help stem the tide of religious bigotry.

Indonesian Islamic Education Teachers Association secretary-general Mahnan Marbawi, highlighted the fact that not all Islamic education teachers had strong religious education backgrounds, citing that as the reason why some of them had failed to understand the importance of incorporating the values of tolerance in classrooms.

"Teachers’ educational backgrounds shape the way they teach in class. Consequently, some of them do not stick to the national curriculum that actually promotes tolerance," he said.



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