Busy Batam parents send their teens to ‘pesantren’

The Jakarta Post, page 5

Having little time at home to look after their children, more parents in Batam, Riau Islands, are sending them to Islam boarding schools – or pesantren – after they finish their final year of elementary school.

The demand of pesantren is high in the industrial city, which is a stone’s throw away from Singapore, forcing some of its top schools to close admission early for the upcoming academic year because they are fully booked.

Parents Khairul Akbar decided to send his daughter to Hidayatullah modern pesantren in Batu Aji, Batam, with an admission fee of Rp 15 million (US$ 112.78) and monthly tuition fee of Rp 1 million. He picks her up once a month so she can gather with the whole family at home. He said amid his tight schedule and limited time to take care of her growing up, the pesantren has become an alternative.

Chairman of the Batam Pesantren Forum Zein Zaunuddin said, unlike their counterparts in Java, the parents of Batam choose to send their children to boarding schools because they are regarded as trusted moral guardians. He said that this is different from the parents in Java, who mostly send their children to pesantren because they want them to master religion. He added, Batam’s pesantren graduates could still compete in the city’s tight labor market.

The first pesantren in Batam, Darul Falah in Nongsa, was established in 1995. By 2015, the city was home to 43 pesantren, accommodating some 3,000 students.

Batam Religious Affairs Agency head Zulkifli AKA said, in addition to these registered institutions, there were also unregistered ones that provided Islamic education in traditional ways.

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