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Jakarta Post

Govt to revise religion studies school books as some found to hint at radicalism, VP says

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, November 28, 2019   /   03:36 pm
Govt to revise religion studies school books as some found to hint at radicalism, VP says Vice President Ma'ruf Amin (left) speaks to journalists at the Vice Presidential Office in Jakarta on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (Antara/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

In yet another attempt to curb radicalism in the country, Vice President Ma’ruf Amin says the government is set to revise school textbooks on religious studies as they have found indications that some books incorporate radical narratives.

Ma’ruf said on Wednesday a number of schools in the country used study materials that were considered radical, although he did not specify the schools.

“It appears that some [schools] are using textbooks that include radicalism in their content,” he said, “The Religious Affairs Ministry as well as the Education and Culture Ministry are currently looking into the [textbooks] to make some improvements.”

He went on to say that textbooks incorporating radical narratives were found even down to the level of elementary schools and early childhood education schools (PAUD). “Such narratives have also come up on questions in school exams,” Ma’ruf added as quoted by kompas.com.

The revelation was not the first time that religion studies textbooks, especially Islamic textbooks, have been found to espouse values promoting intolerance and radical ideologies.

A study released in 2016 by the Center for Islamic and Society Studies (PPIM) at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in South Tangerang, Banten, found that some Islamic textbooks read by students from elementary to high schools in Indonesia supposedly promoted radical ideology.

The study, for instance, found that some Islamic books for elementary schools labelled non-Muslims as kafir (infidels). In another case, values promoted in parts of material readings on Islam taught in senior high school include the establishment of a caliphate and the rejection of democracy.

Ma’ruf asserted that radicalism was one of the main problematic issues in Indonesia that required immediate action from the government, especially at a time when people could easily promote radical ideologies to a younger audience through social media.

It was important to involve all relevant stakeholders in eradicating radicalism, he said. “The role of education and higher education institutions is very important in this regard,” he added.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration has recently renewed measures in its war against radicalism in the country.

The government recently issued a joint ministerial decree that forbids civil servants from expressing opinions on social media that contain “hate speech” against, among others, state ideology Pancasila or the 1945 Constitution, so as to ensure that no civil servants subscribe to ideologies other than Pancasila. (dpk)