Religious education in Indonesia

The case of Islamic education

Authored by: Masykuri Abdillah

The Routledge International Handbook of Religious Education

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415536301
eBook ISBN: 9780203106075
Adobe ISBN: 9781136256424


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In Indonesia there are about 583 ethnic groups and local languages or dialects, and there are five officially recognized religions: Islam (88 percent), Christianity (Protestants and Catholics, 8.7 percent), Hinduism (1.7 percent), Buddhism (0.6 percent), and Confucianism. Each of them has equal rights and obligations, and each has religious holidays recognized as official holidays. Hence the founding fathers formulated the motto, Bhinneka Tunggal lka (unity in diversity), to account for this situation. Preparing for Indonesian independence in 1945, they promoted Pancasila as a common platform, making it the basis of state. 1 Consequently, Indonesia is neither a secular nor a religious state, but the state clearly recognizes the existence of religion in the life of the state. The state is responsible for serving and facilitating religious adherents via the Ministry of Religious Affairs (M.O.R.A.). One of the state’s services is religious education as stipulated in the 1945 Constitution as well as in various acts and regulations on education. Religious education is not only for Muslims as the majority of the Indonesian people, but also for Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucians.

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