Schools Must Respect Students’ Religion

Media Indonesia, page 10

The Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) asserted that state schools should not force students to learn or moreover to practice a particular religion outside that espoused. The assertion is also regulated in Law No. 20 Year 2003 on National Education System in Article 12, paragraph (1) letter a.

This issue was raised by Alpha Amirrachman, Special Staff to Minister of Education and Culture in charge of Monitoring of Policy Implementation, in Jakarta yesterday in response to reports that a number of students of State Junior High School (SMP Negeri) 3 Pandan Wangi-Peranap, Indragiri Hulu Regency, Riau, who claimed to be treated unfairly by the school. Christian students were required to wear the veil and study the Islamic religion.

However, related to the complaints from parents and students of SMP Negeri 3 Pandan Wangi, all state and private schools in Indragiri Hulu, Riau, denied religious coercion in their schools. Head of Riau Education Agency, Kamsol said that last week the Indragiri Hulu Education Agency had discussed with the principals, KUPTD, Head of curriculum field and sections, korwas, developer supervisor and Islam religion teachers. In conclusion there was no coercion of non-Muslim students either in primary, junior high, high school, or vocational high school (SMK) levels to wear a headscarf let alone study Islam.

Kamsol added that based on conditions on the ground that there are allegedly culprits who are trying to confuse the situation, when actually so far there had been very high public tolerance towards migrants and people of other religions. He appealed to the principals to coordinate discussions on the religion studies of non-Muslim students in accordance with the law.

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