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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 PI Dr. Askuri and his U.S. partner Dr. Joel Kuipers made a presentation entitled “An Ethnographic and Linguistic analysis of Science Education in Islamic Schools in three Javanese regencies: a preliminary report” at the 7th International Symposium of Jurnal Antropologi Indonesia at the Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada, July 23-26, 2019. In the succeeding months, the team members have been drafting papers for an edited volume summarizing their work on the project. Their aim is to have the volume edited and published by the end of December.

One of the team’s research outputs is an integrated Islam-Science module for students in Islamic junior high schools. This module has been submitted into the government’s system to be adopted and further developed especially for the Islamic schools under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. It is mainly designed for inclusion in the first semester curricula for students in the first year in Islamic junior high schools. If and when adopted by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, it will impact at least one million students during its first year of implementation, based on the data retrieved from the Central Bureau of Statistics of Indonesia. This number would rise in the following years, as the PI hopes that the Ministry will develop the curricula for science subjects for all grades using the method employed by the integrated-science module he and his colleagues have developed. If this happens, the module would be used by at least three million students annually. In addition, Dr. Askuri and his team are working in collaboration with AIPKEMA, Unisa, to write a book entitled Midwifery and Islam. The manuscript is currently being edited, and it is intended for use in lectures at the Midwifery Islamic College under the Muhammadiyah Organization. If adopted, the material would be taught to about 20,000 students in at least 192 higher education institutions under the Muhammadiyah Organization throughout Indonesia.

During the last quarter of 2019, these PEER researchers also plan to organize three seminars, one each in the cities of Yogyakarta, Malang, and Lamongan. The participants will include teachers from Islamic junior high schools in the respective areas. The team also hopes to invite a representative of USAID in Jakarta and the leaders of Muhammadiyah, PB Nahdatul Ulama, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs as resource persons for the seminar to be held in Yogyakarta. Dr. Chamim will also visit Dr. Kuipers in Washington, DC in early 2020, with the exact dates still to be determined. A no-cost extension will be issued on the project once their plans are set.

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