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Vision is not enough

A whole-school effort is needed to realise a vision of multicultural education in an Islamic boarding school


   A group discussion in sociology class

One afternoon, right after the afternoon prayer, students, their teachers and members of the surrounding community gather at Pesantren Darussalam in Yogyakarta to join the monthly communal supplication led by Kyai Tariq. Men wear sarongs and white Muslim shirts with white caps on their heads and women wear modest Muslim dress. They sit in two single-sex groups divided by a curtain. Together they recite prayers, thanking God for His blessings on the community.

As the kyai explains, this monthly gathering is part of the pesantren’s efforts to produce santris (as pious Muslims are known) who can respect and work for humanity, an objective he believes has not been achieved by the current education system. He goes on to say there is a need to reorient pesantren education to equip children to participate in conversations with people of diverse backgrounds, and to approach them respectfully. The kyai really wants to foster an education process where each of the elements in the school moves together towards the development of students who will respect differences and contribute positively to society. This whole-school notion of multicultural education encompasses the development of school programs and the creation of a school ethos that together provide invaluable lessons of living to learn and learning to live together

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