Contact Us  |  Search  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us For Applicants For Grant Recipients Funded Projects Email Updates
Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Science education in Indonesian religious schools

PI: Askuri Ibn Chamim (, Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies
U.S. Partner: Joel Kuipers, The George Washington University
Project Dates: January 2017 - December 2019 

Project Overview:

5-429 Group Photo
U.S. Partner Joel Kuipers (seated, at far left) and PI Askuri Ibn Chamim (seated, far right) gather with participants in their Workshop of Experts in Science Education, held in Yogyakarta July 25-27, 2017 (photo courtesy of Dr. Chamim)
The underachievement of Indonesian science education reform efforts and the continued problem of Indonesian low scores on international assessments of science education at the pre-university level are matters of serious concern. Not only do these problems have implications for the future of Indonesia’s workforce, their continued neglect could affect the future of Indonesia’s democracy and international stability. Among the lowest scoring of the Indonesian student populations are those who graduate from the country’s religious schools, currently 20% of the student population. The study draws on best practices in science education and links them with professional development practices that are tied to curriculum units that will actually be used in classrooms. The objectives of the project are to (1) determine and describe how science is taught in Indonesian Islamic schools and propose an curriculum intervention that is aligned with the national curriculum; (2) apply the intervention in the classroom and describe and analyze its implementation; and (3) compare the intervention with control groups and report the findings. The work will involve significant partnerships with leading universities in three key cities in Java: Yogyakarta, Malang, and Surabaya. Enhancing the capacity of the Indonesian educational research community to describe and evaluate its own educational system is an important benefit of the proposed research.

This research will produce a model for the treatment in science education in religious schools. A key feature of the treatment program is to develop a learning method that integrates religious motivation with motivation to learn science. The results of this research will be disseminated to stakeholders of educational providers in Indonesia, especially operators of religious schools, to be adopted and developed in the context of each. The largest operators of religious schools in Indonesia are NU and Muhammadiyah, two major Muslim organizations in this country. Mr. Askuri and his team will establish cooperation with these two organizations to implement the science education curriculum integrating the religious approach as a result of this project. Furthermore, the organizations will be encouraged to develop this new approach further in their individual contexts. This project will also train dozens of researchers from various universities in Indonesia and build their capacity through workshops and interdisciplinary collaborative research. In addition, this program will also train dozens of science teachers in the latest scientific learning methods. One output of the project will be teaching materials that can be used by teachers for classroom instruction and by students for independent study. This teaching material will be created in open-source digital format, so it can be replicated broadly by other schools that are not included in the project.

Summary of Recent Activities

The last quarter of 2017 was a time of intensive work by Dr. Askuri and his team to develop their science-learning modules. They met every other week with a core group of two science teachers from targeted schools in their project (SMP Muhammadiyah 3 Yogyakarta and MTs Muallimin Muhammadiyah) and four science teachers from the Association of Science Teachers (MGMP IPA) in Yogyakarta. Completion of the modules is essential so that the team can implement them in practice in 2018. The module drafts consist of technical guidelines to facilitate teachers and students during the process of learning science in a practical way. Once completed, the drafts will be disseminated to other science teachers from target schools in Yogyakarta, Lamongan, and Malang, who will be requested to submit their feedback so the project team can make revisions before the implementation phase begins in mid-2018. Due to some technical obstacles the team encountered, the PI has pushed back the target completion date for the modular drafts from the end of December 2017 to the end of March 2018.

Meanwhile, the PI and co-PI visited Malang and Lamongan to maintain the dialogue with partner schools in those cities. One of the partner schools in Malang, SMP Muhammadiyah 06 Dau, has had to be replaced, as the science teacher will soon be retiring and the school has not yet recruited a replacement. Therefore, another school in Malang, SMP Islam Nurul Huda, has been added to the project instead. The PI plans to hold a press conference on the project in February 2018, and in April he will lead training workshops for both researchers and science teachers.

Back to PEER Cycle 5 Grant Recipients