The Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemdikbud) denies the claim that religious education is being depleted, suggesting it is being strengthened through extracurricular activities instead. Bureau of Communication and Community Service (Ka BKLM), Ari Santoso, said that the effort in the reformation agenda was in accordance with the guidance from the Minister of Education and Culture’s (Mendikbud). Ari explained that any lack of prominence given to religious education would be more than compensated through extracurricular activities.
He also explained Mendikbud stood firm in its statement that according to the Ministerial Regulation of Education and Culture (Permendikbud) Number 23 Year 2017, schools will be able to cooperate with educational institutions implementing character education, which is in accordance with main role of the religious side.
Ari added that Mendikbud could provide a successful example of application of character strengthening education as implemented by a number of regencies, including Siak Regency. This regency applies a school-pattern until 12.00 WIB, and continues with religious education studies with Islamic teachers (uztad). Students are provided with lunch which is funded from APBD. This consists of activities in Islamic primary education (Madrasah Diniyah), short course in Islamic studies (pesantren kilat), sermon, retreat, reading-writing of Quran and other holy books.