New Trend of Islamic Education in Indonesia

Change in ideas of knowledge in complex societies and the means by which such ideas are transmitted result from continual struggle among competing groups within society, each of which seeks domination or influence … Thus the forms of knowledge shaped and conveyed in education systems … must be considered in relation to the social distribution of power. Dale Eickelman (1978), “The Arts of Memory: Islamic Education and Its Social Reproduction”. Comparative Studies in Societies and History, pp. 485-516.

Introduction

Indonesia has a unique education system. In addition to secular education system, where most of the students enjoy their education, there also exists Islamic education system for some of Muslim children. Both mainstreams of education system are under the supervision of two different ministries. On the one hand, the secular schools from elementary to university levels are supervised by the Ministry of National Education (MONE). On the other hand, Islamic educational institutions for all levels are under the administration of the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA).[1] Given the two mainstreams of education, Indonesia is regarded by some as adopting dualistic education system.

The Islamic education system constitutes pivotal and inseparable part of national education system. Islamic educational institutions, throughout their history, have contributed significantly to the development of Indonesian education. Besides producing Muslim scholars, they have developed also Islamic tradition in Indonesia. In spite of these contributions, however, the Islamic education does not become the center in the development of national education system. The marginalization of Islamic education by the colonial administration, followed by the subsequent government of independent Indonesia, resulted in Islamic education being regarded as the second class of education system. Amid such a situation, however, the Islamic education system has gone through significant developments.

Following the collapse of Suharto regime in 1998, Islamic education system gained momentum to develop itself, as illustrated by the following indicators: First, the number of madrasah (Islamic school) and pesantren (Islamic boarding school) with modern management have grown progressively in big cities. Second, most of madrasahs and pesantrens have been recently trying to combine a balanced portion of both secular and Islamic knowledge. Third, there has emerged sekolah Islam (modern Islamic school), a new genre of Islamic education system in Indonesia. This kind of school, which constitutes the later development of madrasah and pesantren, has distinctive characteristics. As will be discussed later, sekolah Islam is under the jurisdiction of MONE, and it emphasizes practical Islamic learning.

Those developments have brought Islamic education system into a new atmosphere. Madrasah, pesantren, and sekolah Islam have not been considered as marginal education anymore. Recently, the three kinds of Islamic educational institutions become urban phenomena, and some of them being regarded “favorite schools” for Indonesian middle class Muslim community. This constitutes a new trend of Islamic education in Indonesia, which gains wide opportunity to develop following the reformation era.[2]

As far the recent development of Islamic education system in Indonesia is concerned, there are significant questions to discuss. The questions would be addressed not only to a number of factors which have made pesantrens and madrasahs still exist and keep improving, but also to matters concerning the issues on their ways to formulate their role amid the rapid changes which occur in Indonesia. Needless to say, Islamic education institutions have now been facing more complex challenges. In addition to bear a duty to produce Muslim scholars, they have to participate also in building social, political and cultural system of new Indonesia. Consequently, it is imperative to relate Islamic education system with such modern issues as democracy, civic values, civil society, good governance, and radicalism, especially within the context of new mapping of Islamic education system in Indonesia.

Escape from Dualistic System
As has been mentioned earlier, Indonesia adopts dualistic education system (Karel Steenbrink 1986: 1-9). On the one hand, Islamic education system, one of the two important education systems in Indonesia, is rooted in the tradition of Islamic learning, which has been practiced for centuries. Historically speaking, pesantren is considered the first Islamic educational institution in Indonesia. It is within this educational institution that such naqliyah knowledge as al-Qur’an, hadis, ‘ilm al-tawhid, fiqh, history of Prophet Muhammad., and mantiq (logics) are learned traditionally. Here, memorizing texts — especially texts of al- Qur’an, sunnah, and the works of ‘ulama —was the most common method in the learning process. However, in line with the gradually growing influence of Islamic revivalism movement in the beginning of 20th century, which began in the Middle East and followed by its subsequent spread to Indonesia, madrasah system began to be introduced by Indonesian reformist Muslims. For long time before independence, both pesantren and madrasah constituted two significant institutions in the context of Indonesian Islam. After independence, as has been discussed earlier, these two institutions have not only continued to exist but also gone through rapid development and become inseparable parts of national education system.

On the other hand, secular education system is rooted in the tradition of modern education brought to Indonesia by the Dutch colonial rule, which gradually introduced schools to indigenous people, especially aristocrat groups. In addition to teach secular courses and certain skills beneficial for worldly life, the Dutch schools also promised job offers for their alumni to become colonial government employees. Furthermore, they issued certificates for the graduates to prove that they have finished certain level of education or mastered certain skill.

This historical legacy has been maintained by Indonesian’s independent government. The Islamic education system has been accommodated by giving its management authority to MORA. Meanwhile, the management of secular education system has been entrusted to MONE. It is explicitly mentioned in the Law of Education and Learning System No. 4, 1950 — which was revoked by the Law No. 12, 1954 —, that “going to religious schools accredited by the Minister of Religious Affairs would be considered as completing compulsory education,”[3] the detailed regulation of which “will be regulated in separate law”[4].

Based on the above regulation, MORA has an authority to manage educational institutions from elementary to university levels, Raudlatul Athfal (RA or kindergarten), Madrasah Ibtidaiyah (MI or Elementary School ), Madrasah Tsanawiyah (MTs or Junior High School), Madrasah Aliyah (MA or Senior High School), and the State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN). Similarly, MONE has also a jurisdiction to supervise secular schools from Taman Kanak-kanak (TK or kindergarten), Sekolah Dasar (SD or Elementary School), Sekolah Menengah Pertama (SMP or Junior High School), Sekolah Menengah Umum (SMU or Senior High School), Sekolah Kejuruan (Vocational School), and University.

The positive impact of the dualism of education is that both national and Islamic educational systems have been competing to each other. However, the “rivalry” seemed to be unequal, since the government educational policy, until the end of the New Order, was more attentive to secular education and seemed to reduce the development of Islamic education. Accordingly, the Islamic education system, especially madrasah and pesantren, became marginal education system and considered frequently as “second class” education. This is because most of the Islamic educational institutions are privates. The majority of madrasah — around 80% of the total — are private schools, while pesantren are totally private institutions. Since they bear private status, most of the madrasahs have limited fund. Consequently, they cannot provide high quality of education.

Despite the high pressure by the New Order government, yet madrasah and pesantren remained exist. Moreover, some of them have even developed to become big institutions with good quality. A number of madrasahs and pesantrens, which will be discussed later, are not new institutions; they are old institutions, which have been struggling with all due forces to increase their quality of education. At the same time, the government policy towards education has gone through significant changes. The Law No. 20 of 2003 concerning National Education System puts madrasah and pesantren as integral parts of national education system. Regarding financial sources, the Law states that “it is a collective responsibility between central government, local authority, and society,” (article 46). It is also stated in the preceding article that “the governments (central and local) are fully responsible to finance compulsory education,” (article 36). The impact of these regulations toward madrasah is obvious, namely that Madrasah Ibtidaiyah and Madrasah Tsanawiyah in the context of their roles as the organizers of nine-year compulsory education would have the right to have full support from the government, regardless of whether they are public or private schools.[5]

At the conceptual level, those regulations have brought Indonesia out of dualistic educational system. Nevertheless, it is important to emphasize that education system in Indonesia has now been adopting “one roof” administration system. Indeed, MORA and MONE are still two different management of education in Indonesia. However, they gradually develop closer relationship and start to establish better cooperation than ever before.[6]

The Distinctive Characteristics of Pesantren and Madrasah
The development of Islam in Indonesia is inseparable from its Islamic education system, especially pesantren and madrasah. Both institutions have played pivotal role in determining the religiosity of Indonesian society. Not only do they function as the center for Islamic learning, but also constitute inherent part in the formation of socio-cultural and religious system of Indonesian Muslims. As far as the Indonesian Muslim intellectual discourse is concerned, both institutions have played significant role as centers for the publication of Islamic scholarly works in Indonesia.

Pesantren — with its other different names like pondok, dayah and meunasah — constitutes a model of traditional Islamic educational institution. An a>lim, or kyai, is the owner as well as the great teacher of pesantren. Most of the santri (students), both males and females, live in dormitory. Moreover, traditional Islamic knowledge, such as tafsi>r, h}adi>th, fiqh, and tas}awuf, are the main courses in pesantren. In addition, the learning process is conducted through traditional methods, without adopting grading and certification systems.

Unlike pesantren, madrasah in Indonesian context is a modern educational institution. The emergence of madrasah by the end of 19th century was a critique towards pesantren education system. As a critique, madrasah tried to offer a wider range of curriculum design, including Islamic and secular courses, besides adopting grading and certification systems.

The recent development of Islamic education in Indonesia has shown that the modern madrasah expands itself into pesantren. From the outset, the reformists Muslims have addressed their critique towards pesantren. Mahmud Yunus, for instance, a leading figure of Islamic education reform of the beginning of the 21st century criticized pesantren strongly by stating that “education system of traditional pesantren would only be able to produce one single ulama out of one hundred santris. The remaining 99 santris are merely contributors to purchase oil to prepare meals.” (Yunus, 1995: 58).

Apart from the critiques addressed by reformist Muslims, the pesantren community themselves have actually begun to realize the significance of education system reform in pesantren. By the end of 19th century, pesantren community began to develop modern education system by adopting madrasah (school) system. With this new system, learning process in pesantren is conducted through grading, curriculum, and examination systems. Moreover, it also adopted modern learning methodology. Meanwhile, texts of classical Islam in various fields of knowledge such as ‘ilm tafsir, ‘ilm h}adith, fiqh, usul al-fiqh, etc., remain studied in pesantren. Pesantren Tebuireng, Jombang, an old pesantren established in 1899 — to name an example — is among the earlier pesantrens which adopted madrasah education system. In its later development, Tebuireng also organized secular schools. Unsurprisingly thus, in Tebuireng we can find MTs and MA together with SMP and SMA. The education model developed by pesantren Tebuireng is now adopted by other pesantrens.

The expansion of modern madrasah system into pesantren continues to take place up to the present time. The data of MORA provides information to us that of the total number of pesantren (14,067), some of them operate MTs/SMP (27,8%), MI/SD (19,8%), and MA/SMA (16,7% ) (EMIS Data, MORA, 2002-2003). The impact of the expansion is that santris are now mostly going to formal education, and the number of those who are attending traditional education system in pesantren declines.

To some extent, madrasah has more advantages than secular school. First, madrasah possesses a strong root in community. This is because madrasahs are mostly established by community without any intervention of the government. People are donating their money voluntarily to support the necessities of madrasah. Second, given the voluntarily donation, financial issues in madrasah are relatively flexible in a sense that all the expenses of madrasah would depend on the real condition of the community earnings. Accordingly, a number of madrasahs in poor regions require a relatively cheap tuition fee for the students, while in few others it is more expensive.[7] Madrasah teachers are generally doing their jobs due to religious reasons as their dedication and devotion. Teachers in a number of madrasahs of remote villages sometimes are paid with minimum salary, yet they are committed to their profession. Unsurprisingly, despite the economic crisis in Indonesia, madrasah not only continues to exist, but also becomes an alternative education for a few groups of community. Third, due to the affordable tuition fee of madrasah, it is regarded as education institution which takes side with poor people. Fourth, in terms of the participation of female students, madrasah constitutes education institution supportive to gender equity. Fifth, madrasah is an educational institution which offers pious norms to the pupils. Madrasah students are generally not getting involved in a number of delinquency attitudes, such as fighting amongst students of different schools. Sixth, Indonesian madrasah is unique compared to similar educational institution in other Muslim countries, since the former gives a balanced portion between Islamic and secular knowledge.[8]

Map of Contemporary Islamic Education in Indonesia

According to data of MORA, there are about 14,067 pesantrens and 37,362 madrasahs throughout Indonesia[9]. The spread rate of pesantren in Indonesia depends on the density of Muslim population of a region and their religiosity. Accordingly, such regions with big Muslim population as East Java and Central Java have a big number of madrasahs and pesantrens. Indeed, these two regions are regarded as “santri regions”.

The figure of pesantren shows an increasing trend. The following data indicates the increasing number of pesantren along the years. In 1977 the number of pesantren was about 4.195 with approximately 677.384 students. The figure went through significant boost in 1981, in which the number of pesantren reached 5.661 with 938.397 students. Another boost happened in 1985, in which the number of pesantren was 6.239 with 1.084.801 students.­ Furthermore, the 1997 data of MORA recorded 9.388 pesantren with 1.770.768 students. Finally, as has been mentioned above, the figure increased sharply to become 14,067 pesantrens with 3,149,374 students.

The Islamic education system in Indonesia can be divided into a number of groups. First is pesantren group, including those which carry out madrasah and those which still maintain non-grading system. This group consists of modern and traditional pesantren. Second is madrasah group consisting of both public and private madrasahs. Third is Sekolah Islam group, which is regarded as a genre of modern Islamic education system of urban Muslim community. Each group will be discussed separately with an attempt to connect them to each other.

Modern Pesantren
As far as the history of Islamic education in Indonesia is concerned, modern pesantren can be regarded as new genre of pesantren. The Pesantren Darussalam of Gontor, Ponorogo, was established in 20 September 1926 by three brothers — KH. Ahmad Sahal, KH. Zainuddin Fannani, and KH. Imam Zarkasyi. This pesantren is also called pondok modern (modern pesantren), in a sense that it not only adopts madrasah system, but also teaches Arabic and English to the students intensively and practically. In daily conversation among the students within the pesantren, all santris are obliged to speak Arabic or English — they are not allowed to speak Indonesian. In addition, unlike the majority of other pesantrens, pondok modern Darussalam, Gontor includes the works of reformist Muslim thinkers in its curriculum. The works of Abduh, for instance, are placed as important subject matters in the pesantren.

The objective of Pesantren Gontor, as mentioned by Lance Castle (1966), is to produce kader Muslim (Muslim cadres) by combining the excellences of both traditional and modern pesantren education systems. In addition to secular subjects, the pesantren also urges the santris about the significance of art. Accordingly, music, sport and other extra-curricular activities are among the concerns of pesantren’s leaders. The pesantren is also intended to provide education capable of responding to Muslim challenges amid the socio-cultural life of Indonesian society which begin to enter modern world.

It is important to mention that Pesantren Gontor was established in the crucial period of Islamic development in Indonesia. Following the ethical politics implemented by the Dutch colonial administration, coupled with the establishment of international network with the center of Islamic reform in Cairo, Egypt, the Islamic education in Indonesia went through fundamental changes. This was marked by the establishment of new Islamic educational institutions, which adopt modern education system, instead of traditional education system of pesantren. The modern Islamic education institution — well-known as madrasah — then became an important part of Islamic reform movement during the early decades of 20th century.

Accordingly, in addition to introduce new system and instructional methods — ranging from adopting grading model with class division, employing text books as learning tools, to accommodating secular subjects in the curriculum — madrasah functioned also as a media for the dissemination of Islamic reform ideas. It became the basis to prepare new Muslim generations who are familiar with the spirit of modernism, an issue that at that time was an overwhelming discourse in Indonesia which started to enter modern world. Accordingly, kader Muslims to be produced by Pesantren Gontor are those who are frequently identified as “Muslim intellectuals”.

The self-definition of Pesantren Gontor as a modern pesantren, as has been mentioned, is basically aimed at attempting itself to be in contrast to traditional pesantren, which is to some extent identical to stagnancy of thought, and to ineffective as well as inefficient managerial system of education. Imam Zarkasyi, one of the founding fathers of Pesantren Gontor, is of the opinion that a modern pesantren should implement freedom of thought, effective and efficient management, and introduce santri toward modernity. Parallel to other reformist Muslim, he also invites Muslims not to be too fanatical towards a certain madhhab, since this would lead to the absence of the freedom of thought. Indeed, with regard to religious ritual practices, Pesantren Gontor is not fanatical to a certain madhhab.

As far as the relation of pesantren and modernism is concerned, the effective and efficient management are described that pesantren should adopt a good, accountable and transparent administration and accounting system. Moreover, the managerial system of modern pesantren relates to the leadership system of pesantren. In this regards, Pesantren Gontor from its inception came up with an idea of what is termed as badan wakaf, the highest body within pesantren in which discussion and decision making are conducted. Under the badan wakaf is badan pelaksana (organizing body) which is responsible of the daily affairs of the pesantren. On the other hand, the introduction of santris toward modernity is implemented by providing them with Arabic and English language skills, Boy Scout, skills, and sports — activities unusual for traditional pesantrens.

The manifestation of modern education of Pesantren Gontor can be seen from KMI (Kulliyatul Muallimin al-Islamiyah) system, i.e. a six-year secondary level of education (equal to SMP and SMU). In this respect, KMI constitutes a combination between madrasah and pesantren system. The decision to adopt this kind of education system was influenced by the school experiences of Imam Zarkasyi, from a pesantren in Solo, Thawalib of Padang Panjang in Sumatra, and Normal Islam School or also called Kulliyatul Muallimin al-Islamiyah. In addition, it is also important to note here his experience in establishing and being the director of Muhammadiyah Kweekschool in Padang Sidempuan. With all those experiences, Imam Zarkasyi then tried to combine pesantren and modern school. The KMI is a madrasah plus pesantren.

Thus, the concept of modern pesantren introduced by Imam Zarkasyi has become a blueprint and genre for the development of the next modern pesantren. Zarkasyi’s students who are now spreading all over Archipelago establish a number of similar pesantren pioneered by the kyai. During the period of 1970-80s, a couple of Gontor alumni established pesantrens in their own region. In Banten, Pesantren Daar El-Qalam was established in Gintung Balaraja; in Madura Pesantren Al-Amin was established in Prenduan Sumenep; in Central Java Pesantren Pabelan was established in Pabelan; Pesantren Modern Assalaam was established in Solo; and many others.[10] Those pesantrens are frequently called pesantren alumni (meaning the alumni of Gontor), the second generation which have influenced the model of other modern pesantrens in their later development.

It should be noted that in the course of its development, pesantren alumni are not always implementing the standardized model of Pesantren Gontor. The Modern Pesantren Assalaam, for example, has developed a different model. The full name of this pesantren is Pondok Pesantren Modern Islam (PPMI) Assalaam, located in Pabelan, Kartasura Sukoharjo, Central Java. At the outset, Pesantren Assalaam is a branch of Pesantren Ngruki, which will be discussed exclusively in this paper. In the beginning of 1980s, when Pesantren Ngruki began to operate, the capacity of the pesantren could not accommodate all the registered students because of an overwhelming interest of parents to send their children to Pesantren Ngruki. Consequently, a decision was made to find another location to accommodate the students. A spot in Pabelan village located in Kartasura was eventually chosen as location to establish a pesantren. The new pesantren was named Assalam. As a branch of Pesantren Ngruki, Pesantren Assalam received supports from Ngruki, including teaching staff.

In due course, Pesantren Assalam, which was established in 7 August 1982, has grown rapidly in terms of the number of students, even surpassing the number of students in Pesantren Ngruki itself. Approximately 2000 students have been registered in Assalam, while Ngruki has around 1500 students. The origin of learning system in Pesantren Assalam was an MDA (Madrasah Diniyah Awaliyah) which was conducted in the evenings. In 1982, to answer the request of neighboring community, a Madrasah Tsanawiyah was established by employing dormitory system. At this juncture, a pesantren system had begun to be introduced, in which students were studying extra courses, adopted from pesantren curriculum. A quite significant measure was taken by Assalam when it received a relatively spacious wakaf land (92,845 m2) from Abdullah Marzuki, a printing entrepreneur of PT Tiga Serangkai, Solo. Now, the property of Assalam is 10.223 ha lands, with 5.6 ha of them are wakaf lands.

At its very inception, the teaching staff of Assalam was supplied from Pesantren Ngruki and some of Gontor alumni who wanted to have teaching experience. Having been able to produce its own graduates, Pesantren Assalam then began to fulfill its own staff. However, the teachers, especially those who teach sciences, are from universities in Surakarta. There are some requirements for someone to be eligible to become teaching staff at Pesantren Assalam. In addition to the readiness of teaching relevant expertise, an applicant should understand the vision and mission of the pesantren. Furthermore, morality of the applicant is the most important aspect to consider in the recruitment process.

Assalam has developed as a big pesantren in Surakarta. This achievement is not only due to its consistency in implementing the concept of modern pesantren as has been introduced by K.H. Imam Zarkasyi, but also because of its attainment in developing modification for pragmatic needs. This can be seen in terms of curriculum and grading system. Although Assalam adopts Gontor’s curriculum, but it also implements national curriculum developed by MORA and MONE. As for grading or leveling system, Assalam implements its own system, i.e. Tsanawiyah (3 years), Aliyah (3 years), SMU (3 years) and Takhassusiyah (Tsanawiyah + Aliyah + 1 year).

The above grading system is actually out of the standardized grading model developed by Gontor, which implements the KMI system, in which Tsanawiyah and Aliyah are regarded as one single level, so that there is no graduation process from grade 3 to grade 4. This system has been maintained in Gontor up to the present time. As for curriculum, Gontor still implements the curriculum developed by K.H. Imam Zarkasyi some decades ago. Meanwhile, Assalam tries to modify curriculums developed by Gontor, MORA and MONE.

What has been performed by Pesantren Assalam is obviously contradictory to the principle embraced by K.H. Imam Zarkasyi, the founder of Pesantren Gontor. According to Zarkasyi a curriculum must be standardized, and should remain unchanged if necessary. He criticized the government policy which has changed national curriculum quite often. Once an educator is convinced that the curriculum he designed can be applied well, he has to implement the curriculum. However, it is worthy noted that by the time Gontor curriculum was developed, Zarkasyi was in a situation where curriculum standardization was not a national discourse. Now, his students face an era in which curriculum standardization is necessary to maintain quality of education. The adoption of national curriculum by pesantren alumni gained momentum in 1980s. Nevertheless, the characteristic of Pesantren Gontor which emphasizes Arabic and English languages is still maintained.[11]

Even though some of pesantren alumni have not been adopting Gontor curriculum anymore, few of them are still implementing the Gontor standardized model. Accordingly, there emerge terms: pure Gontor and non-pure Gontor. The pure Gontor is a term addressed to pesantrens which follow Gontor tradition per se. Meanwhile non-pure Gontor are those which, in addition to adopt Gontor’s curriculum, implement national and local curriculum. The emergence of terms pure Gontor and non-pure Gontor do not merely show the two variants of pondok modern, but sometimes they provoke conflict between pesantren alumni and Pesantren Gontor itself. Gontor desires pesantren alumni to imitate its model. Meanwhile, the later want to make modification and adjustment in line with community interests. Sometimes the conflict is more complex than merely a matter of curriculum and grading system, let alone pertaining social recognition and influence. Pesantren Al-Zaitun, located in Indramayu, West JAva, can be categorized as pesantren alumni. Panji Gumilang AS was the student of K.H. Imam Zarkasyi. Although Pesantren Zaitun was established few years ego, it has been going through so amazing development that provoked bad news and jealousy from other pesantren. It is informed that there is unharmonious relationship between Gontor and Zaitun, since they compete to gain influence and recognition from society.

There is another modification carried out by pesantren alumni, especially regarding Islamic ‘Aqi>dah course. Pesantren Gontor is considered not so strong enough in teaching ‘Aqidah that makes its alumni have various religious-ideologies. The Gontor alumni vary, ranging from a reformist Nurcholish Madjid, an intellectual who brought forth Islamic reform, to a conservative such as Kyai Khalil Ridwan, the leader of Pondok Pesantren Al-Husnayain. This phenomenon, according to Khalil Ridwan himself, who also the leader of BKSPP (Badan Kerjasama antar Pondok Pesantren) — a forum for Gontor alumni — is resulting from limited education of ‘Aqi>dah in Gontor so that santri experience ideological disorientation.

One thing to be kept in mind in discussing Pesantren Gontor and pesantren alumni is their contribution in establishing new foundation for the development of pesantren in Indonesia. Moreover, the modern education system of Gontor at the same time also introduced santri towards some principles of modernity. Besides various facilities, there are a number of significant aspects which can be regarded as being supportive to the implementation of modern principles, which can be taken from the courses in pesantren, especially fiqh, us}u>l al-fiqh, al-adya>n (comparative religion)[12], and Civics. These courses are potential to socialize the values of pluralism, because they admit diversity both in the idea and practical levels. It is the recognition of the existing different opinion that in turn leads the santris to have tolerant attitude, one of the significant values of modernity.

Sekolah Islam
Sekolah Islam (Islamic School) constitutes a new nomenclature of the 20th century Islamic education system in Indonesia. Similar to modern pesantren, sekolah Islam is also a critique towards madrasah. Although madrasah was initially a symbol of education reform, but in its eventual development it is considered insufficient to be regarded as Islamic educational institution. This stand point especially emerges from middle-class Muslim community, who genealogically have an attachment with Muhammadiyah, a modernist Islamic movement in Indonesia. The idea of sekolah Islam cannot be separated from the idea of Muhammadiyah, which has an objective to develop “HIS met de Qur’a>n”.

Sekolah Islam gained its momentum to develop when Indonesian community experienced what the so-called santrinization and Islamization, especially in the late 1990s. The establishment of the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI), which obtained political support from the government, has become the second pillar of the growth of Sekolah Islam in Indonesia. Support towards sekolah Islam came from new generation of Indonesian Muslim. They are mostly alumni of secular universities, who possess good jobs — so that they can be considered as middle-class Muslim — nonetheless they have high religious awareness in line with their level of education which let them to be capable of accessing media of information about Islamic world in general. Most of them are activists of Islamic movements which use campus mosques as their basis, such as Salman mosque at ITB in Bandung, Arif Rahman Hakim mosque at UI Jakarta, Syuhada mosque in Yogyakarta etc. Their idols are Muslim intellectuals such as Imaduddin Abdurrahim, a significant figure in the process of cultivating cadres in Salman mosque, and an initiator of the establishment of ICMI. Both the education and religious experiences had made them aware of the need towards Islamic school other than madrasah. They wanted their kids to be able to enjoy good education in science and technology, but at the same time they want them to become religious people.

Sekolah Islam is under the supervision of MONE. The term ‘sekolah’ itself is employed to avoid the institution being under the supervision of MORA. Unlike other schools in general, sekolah Islam offers religious education in a significant portion, in addition to secular subjects. The difference between sekolah Islam and madrasah or pesantren lies on its emphasis to the practical aspect of religious education. On the one hand, madrasah and pesantren emphasize specific Islamic knowledge, such as ‘ilm al-h}adi>th, ‘ilm al-tafsi>r, fiqh etc. — besides such secular knowledge as mathematics, economics, natural and social sciences. On the other hand, sekolah Islam emphasizes more to the daily religious practices; it is intended to produce Muslim students who possess religious personality. In this regard, Islam is not emphasized on its cognitive aspect, rather in its practical one. Religion, hence, should be transformed to be social ethics.

Sekolah Islam enjoys modern facilities due to financial supports from urban middle-class Muslims. In sekolah Islam students may enjoy air-conditioned rooms, library, sport facilities, laboratory, computer, internet, and — of course — a well organized teaching-learning system, including extra-curricular activities. The sekolah Islam is administered by professionals, either in managerial aspect and curriculum development. Teachers, manager and administration staff are recruited through a very competitive selection process. In addition, they are mostly graduates of well-known universities in Indonesia. The competitive selection happens also in the student admission process. Consequently, the tuition fee in sekolah Islam is far more expensive that that in madrasah and secular schools in general.

Sekolah Islam Al-Azhar, or often called Al-Azhar Islamic School, is one of well-known sekolah Islam. Not only does it constitute the oldest sekolah Islam, but also it has branches in a number of big cities in Indonesia. Al-Azhar was established in 1960s by a Muhammadiyah figure, Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah, well-known as Prof. Dr. Hamka, who was the leader of MUI (Majelis Ulama Indonesia). It is obvious that the establishment of al-Azhar has something to do with the idea of Muhammadiyah about “HIS met de Qur’a>n.” In its subsequent development, under the flag of Yayasan Pesantren Islam (YPI, or Islamic Boarding School Foundation), al-Azhar went through rapid growth during the last three decades. Its branches can be found not only in Jakarta and neighboring cities, but also in Cirebon and Sukabumi in West Java, Surabaya, even in Padang, West Sumatra.

Sekolah Islam Al-Azhar Jakarta is located in Kebayoran Baru, an area which is not only strategic, but also symbolizes the middle-class community. It offers different levels of education from kindergarten to senior high school. During the last five years, the Yayasan (foundation) have been developing Universitas al-Azhar Indonesia (UAI) headed by Professor Ir. Zuhal, M.Sc., the former Minister of Research and Technology during Habibie’s administration era.

During almost three decades after the establishment of Sekolah Islam al-Azhar there was practically no more Sekolah Islam to be established in Indonesia. It was only in 1990s, as has been mentioned, that a number of sekolah Islam appeared in many places, such as Sekolah Madania. This school is under the umbrella of Madania foundation, which obviously shows its relationship with Paramadina, an institute pioneered by Nurcholish Madjid. Paramadina itself is a forum of study for educated middle-class Muslims. The forum usually conducts religious discussion in a number of star-hotels in Jakarta.

Located in the outskirts of Jakarta — to be exact in Parung, West Java — Sekolah Madania manages a boarding school system. This constitutes an attempt to adopt pesantren system in organizing its education process. In line with the grand idea of Paramadina, Sekolah Madania promotes pluralism and multiculturalism. Consequently, it also enrolls non-Muslim students. Indeed, in spite of the limited number of non-Muslim students enrolled, Sekolah Madania is the first Islamic educational institution that pioneers pluralism and multiculturalism. In general, Sekolah Madania emphasizes character building of the students with a set of knowledge and skills as a response toward globalization.

While the initiators of Sekolah Al-Azhar and Paramidina came from intellectual Muslim with strong Islamic education background, the initiators of SMA Insan Cendekia, which locates in Serpong, Banten, come from educated Muslims with secular education background. The school was established in 1996, owing to the initiation of a group of scientists who worked in BPPT (Badan Pengkajian, Pengembangan, dan Penerapan Teknologi), a body under the Ministry of Research and Technology, which for a couple of decades had been led by BJ. Habibie, the former President of the Republic of Indonesia and general chairman of ICMI.

SMA Insan Cendikia aims at producing Muslim scientists who have understanding of both secular and Islamic knowledge. The following jargon says “the combination of Iptek (ilmu pengetahuan dan teknologi, or knowledge and technology) and Imtaq (iman dan taqwa, or faith and piety),” which was popularized by BJ. Habibie himself constitutes significant basis for the development of SMA Insan Cendekia. In order to develop its curriculum, the school establishes communication with ITB (Institut Teknologi Bandung), IPB (Institut Pertanian Bogor), and the BPPT itself. By adopting boarding school system, like Sekolah Madania, the institution has an advantage of having scholarship network with Germany for their alumni. Lately, after Habibie began to lose his “influence” in BPPT, the management of the school is entrusted to MORA. However, this institution still maintains, to a large extent, its identity as Sekolah Islam with aforementioned characters.

Sekolah Islam can also be found outside Java. Of the most famous among them is Sekolah Serambi Mekkah in West Sumatra. Not only does it represent a model of Sekolah Islam, but it also develops a sort of religious attitudes which can be found in the member of pengajian kampus (in-campus religious learning) which politically become the basis of the constituents of Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS, or Prosperous Justice Party). The luxurious complex of Perguruan Serambi Makkah: Islamic Boarding School is located in the outskirts of Padang Panjang city. Inside the complex, students, both male and female, do their learning activities everyday. They live there twenty four hours a day. In order to be able to study maximally, the management provides services, including laundry and cookery. Furthermore, there is a kiosk inside the complex in which santri can find their daily necessities, so that they do not need to go out of complex.

Sekolah Serambi Mekkah implements a curriculum adopted from MONE for secular courses and from MORA for religious courses, with a few adjustments to be fit with pesantren life. For secular courses, the entire curriculum of MONE is taught in the school, but its proportion is only 70% of the total curriculum, while the remaining 30% is the curriculum of MORA. With such a composition, this school is able not only to teach the entire courses developed by MONE, but also to teach religious courses even in more detail, such as h}di>th, ta>ri>kh, fiqh, imla>, Arabic, al-Qur’a>n, etc. The leader of the school and the teaching staff said that they have been still seeking an ideal composition of curriculum for Serambi Makkah. By implementing boarding school system, they have more extra hours to spend with additional courses. It is during these extra hours that religious courses are educated. In this regard, the pesantren has an opportunity to teach religious courses so intensively that the nuance of pesantren can be felt quite strongly.

Similar to SMA students in general, the male students of SMA Boarding School Serambi Makkah wear uniform of short-sleeves white shirt and grey pantaloons. But the female students wear long-sleeves shirt, long skirt, and veil. Although not quite clear, attributes of neo-salafi group can be seen in the school. For example, the teachers wear baju koko (long-sleeves collarless shirt) and gamis (robe). Furthermore, male teachers let their beard grows. Title usta>dz is attributed to male teacher, while female teacher is called umi. Another attribute is separation between male and female during teaching-learning process, prayer in the mosque, and in student organization. In addition, extracurricular activities are organized in such a way to avoid direct contact and interaction between male and female students. Moreover, they employ scripturalistic approach in understanding religious teachings.

Although the institution is very popular in Padang Panjang city even in West Sumatra, mainly because of its luxurious complex, only a small percentage of the students come from the city. Most of the students are from other regions outside West Sumatra, like Palembang, Bengkulu, and Jambi. There is a balanced composition in number between male and female students. All the students live in dormitory 24 hours a day. The students are not allowed to leave the complex. In this regard, there is an agreement between the leader of Serambi Makkah and parent which states that only one family member of the students is permitted to bring the student home during semester break. The name of the appointed family member, called wali, is registered during the enrolment process. Outside the break session students are also permitted to leave the complex only if accompanied by the wali. However, they are not allowed to leave the town.

The above explanation shows a number of variants of sekolah Islam in Indonesia. Although its emergence was in the course of the rise of religious ghi>rah (enthusiasm) among Muslim society, but sekolah Islam vary in terms of religious ideology affiliation. It depends on the figures or religious group who become the initiators. Sekolah Islam Al-Azhar seems to be affiliated to Muhammadiyah’s ideology, and Madania is in line with Islamic neo-modernism. Meanwhile, Serambi Mekkah is close to the ideology of neo-salafi. The number of variants could be more than three, since Sekolah Islam has now been growing in number in big cities throughout Indonesia.

Public Madrasah: Islamic Education by State

The number of madrasah negeri (public Islamic school) is 7,227, representing only approximately 20% of the total number of madrasah throughout Indonesia. The management of public madrasah is under MORA’s responsibility, including building, other facilities, teaching staff, books, and salary. Public madrasah constitutes a medium employed by the government to disseminate national curriculum. In this respect, private madrasahs administered by foundations and socio-religious organizations are obliged to refer to public schools in terms of their curriculum arrangement. To some extent, public schools become role-models for private schools.

The 1994-1995 data of MONE records 149,646 public and private elementary schools (Sekolah Dasar or SD), which enroll 26.200.023 students. While in junior secondary level (Sekolah Menengah Pertama or SMP) the number is 19.442 with 6.392.417 students. On the other hand, MORA supervises 24.232 Islamic elementary schools (Madrasah Ibtidaiyah or MI), consisting of public (607) and private (23.625) madrasahs, both of which enroll 3.521.836 students. Meanwhile, at junior secondary level (Madrasah Tsanawiyah or MTs), the data of MORA report that there are 8.129 (582 public and 7.547 private) schools, which enroll 1.353.229 students. These above reports confirm the significance of madrasah and MORA in education, let alone the development of Islam in Indonesia.

As far as the modernization of Islamic education in Indonesia is concerned, public Islamic schools have gone through interesting development. Although still emphasizing on religious courses in certain fields, the bigger portion is given to secular courses, especially in madrasah negeri. The process began in 1970s when MORA was led by Mukti Ali (1923-2004). By then, MORA attempted intensively to make madrasah to become part of national education. An intensive negotiation between MORA and other related departments resulted in the issuance of a Joint Decree (Surat Keputusan Bersama or SKB) between Minister of Religious Affairs, Minister of Education and Culture, and Minister of Home Affairs — well-known as SKB Tiga Menteri — No. 6, 1975 and No. 037/U/1975. It is by the issuance of the Decree that the position of madrasah began to be recognized as the same level as secular schools administered by MONE. It should be noted that according to the Law No. 4, 1950, the grading system of madrasah is the same as that in secular schools. Accordingly, Madrasah Ibtidaiyah (MI), Madrasah Tsanawiyah (MTs) and Madrasah Aliyah (MA) are respectively the same levels as Sekolah Dasar (SD), Sekolah Menengah Pertama (SMP) and Sekolah Menengah Umum (SMU).

The SKB stipulates three points: (1) the graduate certificate of madrasah of all levels would be recognized equally to those of secular school; and (2) madrasah graduates are eligible to continue their study in secular schools. These two points have changed the substantial status of madrasah. Madrasah graduates have now equal opportunity with their counterpart from secular schools to be registered in secular schools, and vise versa. However, in order to be equal to secular school, madrasah should carry out point (3), i.e. that the curriculum of madrasah should consist of 70% secular courses and 30% religious courses.

It is due to the third point that a bitter critique was aroused from Muslim community. In this respect, Mukti Ali, a figure behind the SKB, became the target of the critique and even anger. As shown by Munhanif (1999: 314-315), Mukti Ali was accused to destroy Islamic education institution, which rooted in Indonesian Islam. However, the idea of SKB Tiga Menteri was eventually accepted, since it contributes significantly towards the development of madrasah. By the SKB, MORA started to rearrange the madrasah, such as transforming a number of madrasah to belong officially to MORA, or to become public madrasah. Although the number of public madrasah is still limited and far less than that of secular school, but the issuance of the SKB shows that MORA have made a significant political measures. From then on, a number of madrasahs have received subsidy, a financial support from the government that previously has only been enjoyed by secular school under MONE.

The integration process of madrasah into national education system gained momentum in 1989 with the issuance of Education Law No. 2 of 1989, concerning National Education System (UUSPN). The issuance of the Law was monumental for the development of madrasah. Through this Law, the position of madrasah and Islamic educational institutions in general was reaffirmed as inherent part of national education system. Accordingly, madrasah bears the responsibility to participate in completing the nine-year compulsory education. In addition, the Law asserts that religion becomes compulsory course that should be taught in schools from elementary to university levels.

Those developments have made public madrasah regarded as great achievement by MORA, but a few Muslim groups are not satisfied with them. For MORA, public madrasah, by adopting the combination of both secular and religious courses, is an ideal form of Islamic educational institution in Indonesia. The modernization of Muslim community, especially in rural areas, would only be possible through public madrasah. Moreover, the institution plays significant role in defending and maintaining Islamic values among Muslim community. However, pesantren community regards public madrasah as being too secular, making it incapable of producing Muslim cadres, let alone ulama>’. Moreover, other Muslim group is of an opinion that public madrasah is not able to fulfill their aspiration to produce Muslims who master Iptek and Imtaq at the same time.

Apart from the critiques, public madrasah has played pivotal role in the development of madrasah in Indonesia. It is through public madrasah that MORA is able to execute national curriculum standardization, so that the quality assurance of education in madrasah can be implemented. In addition, public madrasah is also a medium for the government to communicate and disseminate national educational policies. Moreover, it becomes the role-model of the modernization of madrasah in Indonesia. By cluster system approach, public madrasahs have become references for private madrasahs in managing their education programs.

Maintaining Traditional Learning Method: Pesantrens within NU Traditions

As has been mentioned above, there are some traditional pesantrens, especially those developed within NU tradition, which adopt modern educational system although they do not have any organizational ties with NU. In maintaining their traditional educational system, some pesantrens in Java have initiated to adopt the madrasah system. In this respect, pesantren Tebuireng in Jombang, East Java, is a case in point. Founded by Kyai Hasyim Asy’ari (1871-1947), a well known Javanese ulama of the 20th century, the pesantren becomes a model for other pesantrens as well as the ulamas in Java. Indeed, the majority of well-known and respected pesantrens in Java are founded by the pupils of Kyai Hasyim Asy’ari. It is not surprising then to see that those pesantrens follow Tebuireng model of teaching and learning. This phenomenon is understandable, since Hasyim Asy’ari was considered a Hadratus Syaikh (the prime ulama), who possessed a central role in the tradition of ulama scholarship in Java especially with the foundation of Nahdlatul Ulama in 1926.

Tebuireng, however, is not the only pesantren which has reformed its educational system. Pesantren Krapyak in Yogyakarta is another pesantren which has done similar attempt to reform its educational system. Kyai Ali Maksum (1915-1989), the head of pesantren Krapyak, was known as a modernist ulama. He also integrated madrasah system into pesantren which later became the main teaching and learning activities in pesantren. In addition, it is important to mention the other two pesantrens which have conducted educational reform by adopting madrasah system into pesantren, and by including non-Islamic subjects into pesantren curriculum. The two pesantrens under discussion are Pesantren Tambak Beras lead by Kyai Hasbullah and Pesantren Rejoso in Jombang headed by Kyai Tamim, both of which are located in East Java.

Following socio-religious changes, modernization and Islamic reform, Islamic education reform has become common discourse during the 20th century Islam in Indonesia. The ulama of pesantrens, who are known as the preservers of traditions, have started to change the traditional system of education and adopted the modern system, i.e., madrasah. In accordance with that shift, the goal of education itself changed. In this respect, Pesantren Tebuireng is a case in point. Instead of merely educating the future ‘ulamas, the goal of teaching and learning in Pesantren Tebuireng, as stated by Zamakhsyari Dhofier, is directed towards wider aims, namely to educate and to prepare the students of the pesantren to become ulama-intellectual (ulama who master non-Islamic knowledge) and intellectual-ulama (intellectuals in non-Islamic knowledge who master Islamic knowledge). This goal is in line with that of modernist Muslims whose aim of education is also to create “intellectual Muslims.”

In spite of differences of religious understanding between the ulama of pesantren and the reformists, yet they agree on one thing, i.e., the goal of educational system. Both groups of traditionalists and modernists pay serious attention to the reformation of Islamic educational system. In this context, both of them made similar efforts to create modern Muslims. Accordingly, madrasah has become a more widely acceptable system within Indonesian Muslims which is, later on, developed to be an established model within Islamic educational system in Indonesia. Furthermore, it is through these educational institutions that the socio-religious Islamic organizations in Indonesia have made their significant contribution to the Indonesian communities.

Non-Javanese Experiences

As has been mentioned above, a big number of traditional pesantrens are located found in Java, especially East and Central Java, and only a few are located outside Java. However, a number of traditional pesantrens are also to be found outside Java. The followings are the description of traditional pesantrens under discussion, such as pesantren Tarbiyah Islamiyah in West Sumatera, pesantren Assyadiyah in South Sulawesi and pesantren Nahdlatul Wathan (NW) in West Nusa Tenggara.

Pesantren Tarbiyah Islamiyah, West Sumatera
Pesantren Tarbiyah Islamiyah, located in Ampek Angkek, Candung, Bukit Tinggi, was established in 1908 (1307 H) by Angke Mudo Muhammad Rasul. At its very inception, the pesantren was called Surau Tangah or also named as Surau Baru Candung. Similar to other surau at that time, Surau Tangah functioned as the center for the development of Islamic teachings. The teaching and learning method employed by the surau was halaqah, a teaching method in which all the students of all ages learn directly from the kyai, since grading (leveling) system was not recognized. Indeed, Syeikh Sulaiman Arrasuli (1978-1970) — the son of Angku Mudo Muhammad Rasul and the second leader — was known as one of pesantren leaders who opposed and the criticized grading system. On May 5th 1928, with the suggestion of Syeikh Muhammad Abas and Sultan Dt Rajo Sampono, Syeikh Sulaiman Arrasuli finally decided to change halaqah system in pesantren Candung into madrasah system, a system which has been adopted by the younger generations. This madrasah is the seed of the current Tarbiyah Islamiyyah.

Having been going through long process, Tarbiyah Islamiyah applied full grading system in the early 1980s. Furthermore, it has applied the curriculum of the Ministry of Religious Affaires for MTsN and MAN since 1984. However, the new adopted curriculum was regarded too simple for the salafiyah (traditional) pesantren of Candung. Thus, the nomenclature of religious subjects is developed and deepened. The text books published by the Ministry of Religious Affaires on religious subjects are not used. Instead, the classical Arabic texts or called as “kitab kuning” are employed as textbooks in the teaching and learning in the pesantren. This may be seen as a strategy of pesantren communities to maintain their identities in the midst of globalization era.

In due course, Tarbiyah Islamiyah became more opened to the outsiders. The Tarbiyah then developed cooperation with various parties such as government and international funding institutions. In 1981/1982 the Tarbiyah developed cooperation with the Ministry of Religious Affairs to hold training for motivation and Classical Arabic textbooks teaching and to add their library collections. In 1982/1983 the Tarbiyah received other supports from MORA such as carpenter tools, sewing machines, welding tools and workshops to increase the skill of the students. Furthermore, the Tarbiyah also received other fund from Islamic Development Bank (IDB) through the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Although frequently affirming themselves as politically neutral, it is beyond doubt that the political inclination of pesantrens under Persatuan Tarbiyah Islamiyah is twofold. It is said that when they are called as “Persatuan Tarbiyah Islamiyah”, it means that they are affiliated to Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP, or Development Union Party), while those affiliated to GOLKAR (functional group) are called as “Tarbiyah Islamiyah”. It is important to mention, however, that both parties in fact have tried to attract the same constituents i.e., the students and the heads of pesantrens under Persatuan Tarbiyah Islamiyah (PERTI) organization. The alumni of pesantren Perti are spread out all over Indonesia, even in Malaysia, and they still maintain good communication and relationship among themselves.

Pesantren As’adiyah, South Sulawesi
The great mosque of Pesantren As’adiyah stands elegantly in Sengkang city, Wajo, South Sulawesi. The pesantren was founded in 1930 by K.H. Muhammad As’ad and located about 200 km from the central city of Makassar. It is interesting to note here that before the establishment of pesantren As’adiyah, most of the influential Islamic educational institutions in Sengkang were founded by Muhammadiyah and, hence, adopted modernist values. Similar to other Muhammadiyah schools, those educational institutions in Wajo were based on the concept of “HIS met de Qur’a>n”.

Muhammadiyah began to have influence in South Sulawesi in 1926, pioneered by H. Mansyur al Yamani, an Arab entrepreneur who once stayed in Yogyakarta. Two years later, in 1928, the influence of Muhammadiyah reached Wajo, and from then on its influence has become wider. It was one year later, in 1929, that the first Muhammadiyah conference in South Sulawesi was held in Sengkang, Wajo. During the conference, the strategy of education of Muhammadiyah schools was formulated and it gained momentum to be more developed in Sengkang, Wajo.

Muhammadiyah paid special attention to religious attitudes of Wajo community at that time. As an organization with modern and reformist characteristics, Muhammadiyah viewed that there were some religious attitudes of Wajo community that may be categorized as bid‘ah and khurafat, the attitudes that follow the beliefs of their ancestors such as maintaining sangkang, a place to worship the soul of their ancestors, or adongkokeng tradition, a belief that the soul of their ancestors may re-enacted to the kids which cause them sick. In facing this kind of religious phenomenon, Muhammadiyah inclined to show non-compromistic attitudes and tried to eliminate those attitudes of the community. That was exactly what happened in Wajo.

The rapid development of Muhammadiyah became a factor for the revival of the traditional ulamas. They tried very hard to establish traditional Islamic educational institutions. In this context, the role of K.H. Muhammad As’ad becomes significant. With the suggestions from several ulamas in Wajo who visited him in Makkah when they performed hajj (pilgrimage), K.H. Muhammad As’ad, who stayed and studied in Makkah at that time, then established an Islamic traditional educational institution in 1930 as the pioneer for the foundation of pesantren As’adiyah.

The efforts of K.H. Muhammad As’ad to initiate the establishment of traditional pesantren received supports from Matoa Wajo and his relatives who viewed from the beginning that the educational institutions developed by Muhammadiyah did not accommodate local cultures. According to the King of Wajo, the efforts of K.H. Muhammad As’ad will create a balance to what Muhammadiyah had done in the community. It was expected that the traditional educational institutions will be more accommodative to the local traditions of the community.

In May 1930, Madrasatul Arabiyatul Islamiyyah (MAI) was founded. From the outset, MAI applied pesantren model which fully taught tafsir (Qur’a>nic Exegesis), tauhid (Islamic Theology), fiqh (Islamic Law), akhlaq (Ethics), tasawuf (Islamic Mysticism) and Arabic language. The method of teaching and learning is called mangaji tudang (halaqah system), in which a religious teacher holds learning gathering at his home attended by some people who came from Sengkang as well as other villages in Wajo.

In 1931, MAI initiated to have formal educational system which was divided into two levels, i.e. Madrasah Ibtidaiyah and Madrasah Tsanawiyah. Additionally, there was special class for cadres of ulama signed up by senior students who were considered to be potential to be the head of pesantrens. The curriculum of the pesantren was developed by K.H Muhammad As’ad himself and consists of 100% religious subjects. The percentage of religious subject adopted by the pesantren may be seen from two perspectives; first, the religious situation of the community in Sengkang forced him to teach religious subjects as much as possible; second, the increasing tension between religious schools founded by religious figures and public schools held by the colonial government which resulted in the rejection of religious schools to include non-religious subjects into their curriculum. This measure was taken to avoid colonial-bias.

The shift in curriculum and orientation of MAI began to take place in 1953, a year after K.H. Muhammad As’ad passed away. With the suggestion of the new head of the pesantren, K.H. Daud Ismail, MAI was altered into Pesantren As’adiyah. It is clear that the new name was taken from the name of K.H. Muhammad As’ad, to honor him as the founder of that Islamic institution.

It was under the leadership of K.H. Daud Ismail that the modernization of pesantren began. Pesantren was not managed as a private institution owned by kyai. Instead, it was administered by a yayasan (foundation), which has formulated its regulations to run the pesantren and to be regularly evaluated in the conferences. Pesantren As’adiyah is distinctive from other similar institutions for its organizational structure, which consists of Central Board (PB), the highest rank in the structure of the pesantren. It is under the Board that As’adiyah foundation organizes its learning mechanism either in schools, madrasahs or pesantrens.

The second generation of pesantren As’adiyah realized that they have to face challenges different from those of the first generation of K.H. Muhammad As’ad. Thus, in 1956 pesantren As’adiyah opened another new model of school, i.e., Madrasah Menengah Pertama (MMP, or Islamic Junior High School) and Madrasah Menengah Atas (MMA, or Islamic Senior High School) in 1959. The two schools are different from the existing schools such as Madrasah Ibtidaiyah and Madrasah Tsanawiyah. The new model of schools adopted 60% of religious subjects and 40% of non-religious subjects such as Indonesian language, English, economics, geography, math, natural sciences etc.

The new trend to develop the more opened model of pesantren, which accommodates non-religious knowledge has been continuing for generations. Under the leadership of K.H.M. Yunus Martan (1961-1986), for example, the pesantren offered another new program, i.e., six-year training program for religious teachers. Furthermore, it was during this period that pesantren As’adiyah opened other educational institutions such as kindergarten, primary school and As’adiyah Islamic University.

Pesantren As’adiyah, therefore, may be viewed as representative of pesantren salaf (traditional pesantren) which is accommodative to the new changes and development surrounding it. One may say that the following proverb” almuhafazah ‘ala al qadim al salih wa al akh zu bi al jadid al aslah” (Preserving the good existing order and adopting the new one which is better) is an appropriate expression to describe the characteristics and inclinations of Pesantren As’adiyah.

Continue Here.. New Trend of Islamic Education in Indonesia [Part II]
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