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Religious education in Indonesia: enriching teaching methodologies and techniques

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Helping to improve understanding around different religious education teaching methods.

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Revita Wahyudi

Areas of expertise

Revita Wahyudi,

In 2013, the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) commissioned a study to help reform the religious education curriculum in the country in response to concerns around the rise of extremism in schools. This project aimed to improve understanding around different religious education teaching models and their applicability within a range of contexts.

As part of this study, we conducted a situational analysis to help build an evidence base around the extent of religious extremism in schools. We also supported a number of study tours for MORA and other government delegates and developed a training strategy for religious education teachers to help ensure the sustainability of best practices in teaching.

Thirty Indonesian religious education teachers visited Oxford for a week-long study tour programme including lectures, classroom, observations, and workshops. The focus of the tour was around knowledge-sharing of international best practices in religious education teaching that promote tolerance, respect, and diversity. 

Outputs from the project included new teaching materials and a revised teacher training manual. Post-training workshops were held in Indonesia to help consolidate learnings and develop classroom plans for piloting within schools in four districts of the country.

Challenges

A pluralistic, multi-faith society, Indonesia has seen a rise in religious-based tension in recent years. Rapid globalisation and democratisation throughout the country has created opportunities for the growth of extremist ideologies - with schools often considered a focal point for the spread of these views.

Our approach

This particular project was established to build on, and help consolidate, the work we did previously for MORA – particularly the training element – by supporting a study tour for Indonesian religious education leaders to the UK. Specifically, the tour aimed to promote knowledge-sharing around: 

  • the partnership training model used in Oxford – where trainee teachers work at local schools whilst still studying at the university; 
  • alternative training models used in other parts of UK and internationally; and
  • the UK model of teaching – with an emphasis on classroom discussion and critical appraisal – and how this might be applied within the Indonesian context.

We worked closely with stakeholders from MORA, Oxford University’s Department of Education, and experts from the State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah, to design and convene a ‘training-of-trainers’ programme for Indonesian religious education teachers.

By exposing teachers to different practices, the project helped to promote the shift of religious education teaching across Indonesia to a model that emphasises tolerance and mutual respect.

Over the longer term, this work should support greater social cohesion and, ultimately, reduce the risk of extremist views spreading within schools.

Outcomes

A key focus of the project was to ensure that study tour learnings are translated into action on the ground back in Indonesia. Post-training workshops were held to give the teachers who visited Oxford the chance to share knowledge, consolidate learning, and develop relevant and effective classroom plans. The team also supported the development of new teaching materials piloted by teachers in eight schools within four provinces of Indonesia. In addition, a new training manual for religious education teachers was produced to help ensure the continuity of the project and its outcomes.