Policy expertise

Religious Education in Indonesia: enriching teaching methodologies and techniques

Policy Area
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
November 2014 - March 2015
OPM contact

This project will help improve understanding around different religious education teaching methods. In 2013, the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) commissioned a study to help reform the religious education curriculum in the country in response to concerns around the rise of extremism in schools. We are drawing on the findings of this study and working in partnership with the University of Oxford to develop a training-of-trainers study tour to the UK. Thirty Indonesia religious education teachers will visit Oxford for a week-long study tour programme including lectures, classroom, observations and workshops. The focus of the tour will be around knowledge-sharing of international best practices in religious education teaching that promote tolerance, respect and diversity. Outputs form the project will include new teaching materials and a revised teacher training manual. Post-training workshops will be held in Indonesia to help consolidate learnings and develop classroom plans for piloting within schools in four districts of the country

A pluralistic, multi-faith society, Indonesia has seen a rise in religious-based tension in recent years. Rapid globalisation and democratisation throughout the country has created opportunities for the growth of extremist ideologies - with schools often considered a focal point for the spread of these views.

In 2013, the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) commissioned a study on religious education in schools. Based on the premise that education can play a key role in tackling extremism, the study focused on reforming the curriculum of religious education courses to help promote religious tolerance, respect and diversity.

As part of this study, we conducted a situational analysis to help build an evidence base around the extent of religious extremism in schools. We also supported a number of study tours for MORA and other government delegates and developed a training strategy for religious education teachers to help ensure the sustainability of best practices in teaching.

The current project was established to build on, and help consolidate, this work – particularly the training element – by supporting a study tour for Indonesian religious education leaders to the UK. Specifically, the tour aims to promote knowledge-sharing around: 

  • The partnership training model used in Oxford – where trainee teachers work at local schools whilst still studying at the university 
  • Alternative training models used in other parts of UK and internationally
  • The UK model of teaching – with an emphasis on classroom discussion and critical appraisal – and how this might be applied within the Indonesian context

Our team is working closely with stakeholders from MORA, Oxford University’s Department of Education and experts from the State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah, to design and convene a ‘training-of-trainers’ programme for Indonesian religious education teachers.

Drawing on the findings from the previous project and the revised curriculum for religious education in Indonesia, our team developed the training programme based around a study tour to Oxford. Thirty religious education teachers will travel from Indonesia to Oxford for the week long study tour which will include lectures at the university, school lesson observations and meetings with UK trainee teachers.

A key focus of the project will be ensuring that study tour learnings are translated into action on the ground back in Indonesia. Post-training workshops will be held to give the teachers who visited Oxford the chance to share knowledge, consolidate learning and develop relevant and effective classroom plans. The team will also support the development of new teaching materials that will be piloted by teachers in eight schools within four provinces of Indonesia. In addition, a new training manual for religious education teachers will be produced to help ensure the continuity of the project and its outcomes.

This project will help improve understanding around different religious education teaching models and their applicability within a range of contexts.

By exposing teachers to different practices, the project will help promote the shift of religious education teaching across Indonesia to a model that emphasizes tolerance and mutual respect.

Over the longer-term, this should support greater social cohesion and ultimately, reduce the risk of extremist views spreading within schools.