Masa Depan Pendidikan Agama di Belanda dan Indonesia

Edisi kedelapan Forum Jumat Sore CRCS akan dilaksanakan hari Jumat, tanggal 14 Desember 2007, Jam 15:00-16:30. Diskusi akan dilaksanakan di Gedung Sekolah Pascasarjana UGM, lantai 3, ruang 306. Pembicara dalam diskusi ini adalah Dr. Carl Sterkens dan Mohamad Yusuf, M.A. Tema yang akan diangkat dalam diskusi adalah ?Masa Depan Pendidikan Agama di Belanda dan Indonesia?. Dibawah ini merupakan biografi singkat pembicara serta abstrak dari tema yang akan dipresentasikan.

Abstract of The future of Religious Education in the Netherlands (by; Carl Sterkens)

One could discuss the future of religious education in the Netherlands from several perspectives. For instance from the perspective of the relation with religious communities (churches, mosques); the relation with the state in all its different aspects; the juridical context; the content of the education; the definition of religion itself and how to approach it; etc. Today?s focus is limited to the future of religious education in the Netherlands within publicly financed schools (i.c. almost all schools in the Netherlands) from the perspective of religious plurality.

1.Criteria for and distinction of three models of religious education in a plural context

Contemporary literature offers three models for dealing with plurality in religious education: a monoreligious, a multireligious and an interreligious model. These ?ideal types? give different answers to the question of what kind of interaction is most suitable for relating to other cultures and religions in education. The models answer differently to the following question: How to speak in religious education from a position of involvement with one?s own religious tradition while fully recognising the reality of religious plurality?

This question (posed in the first place from the perspective of the pupil) yields implicitly three criteria: (a) involvement with one?s own religious tradition; (b) recognition of religious plurality; and (c) reflection on the polarity arising from the first two criteria. This polarity needs to be worked out, because it is insoluble and structurally intractable. Thus the third criterion focuses on the need to arrive at insight and indicators in religious education which will help to clarify, albeit not resolve, the cognitive, affective and attitudinal aspects of the polarity between involvement and engagement with a particular religion on the one hand, and genuine recognition of religious plurality on the other.

On the basis of the three criteria, we can both distinguish nd evaluate the monoreligious, the multireligious and the interreligious model for dealing with religious plurality in an educational context. A detailed description of each model would include (a) the socio-cultural context in which the concerning model occurs; (b) its religious pedagogic aim; and (c) its normative (theological) basis.

2. Actual situation in the Netherlands

It would be too general a statement to say that is a clear preference for one specific model. The choice would depend on the institutional context of the school (public or private); the specific school climate; the teacher in question; and the school population.

With regard to the institutional context, in 2002, 33% of the children in the Netherlands attended Catholic schools or their primary education, 32% attended public schools, 27% went to Protestant Christian schools and 8% to other private schools. There is no information available (anymore) about the religious self-definition of the pupils, but there is about ethnicity. Nearly half of all pupils belonging to ?ethnic minorities? attend public schools, the other half private schools. The apparently proportional representation of pupils from ethnic minorities in ?other private schools? is attributable to the fact that some of these are Muslim and Hindu schools catering almost exclusively for pupils from ethnic minorities.

With regard to the school teachers, more and more teachers show a preference for the interreligious model. But increasingly also the multireligious model. Primary education in the Netherlands has a specific term that refers to the multireligious approach: ?religious and ideological movements? [geestelijke stromingen]. Since the revision of the Basic Education Act [Wet op het Basisonderwijs] on 22 December 1983, it has been a compulsory subject at primary schools in the Netherlands (cf Primary Education Act 1998, art 9), although the act allows considerable latitude regarding how it is taught. Notice the contrast with the governmental religious education policy in Indonesia!

With regard to the students in relation to the interreligious model, one could question whether (all) primary school pupils and secondary school students want and are able to take a religious auto-perspectives (and this apart from their willingness and ability to take allo-perspectives). Increasingly it is the case that young people tend to perceive religion as an interesting social phenomenon, but one that does not (yet) affect their personal lives. In other words: does the lack of involvement compromise the whole idea of interreligious learning? Let me explain this with a reference to another research at the Radboud University Nijmegen.

3. Future of religious education in the Netherlands?

Nowadays, empirical research proves that students among the age of 16-18 years old value a multireligious most positively, while they are ambiguous about an interreligious orientation and clearly disagree with a monoreligious orientation that is underpinned by exclusivistic or inclusivistic truth claims. This poses a dilemma for educators: on the one hand, should an educational programme reflect the needs and interests of students? On the other hand, does a multireligious model fall short of contemporary religious-pedagogical demands?

It might be questionable whether Dutch classrooms will indeed become important places for intercultural and interreligious dialogue […] since, as it turns out, young people today are not particularly interested in dialogue. But why? Commitment is the keyword in answering this question. The absence of religious commitment in a religious sense could cause students to reject a monoreligious model, since this model presupposes a strong religious commitment. But lack of commitment could also cause the ambivalence toward an interreligious model, because this model does not only entail a positive valuation of religious plurality, but also calls for religious commitment. If this thesis is correct, then the success of an interreligious curriculum is dependent upon the population of the class, both with regard to the commitment of individual pupils toward a specific religious tradition and with regard to the willingness to realise a dialogue. For that reason, I am less optimistic about the possible outcomes for interreligious curricula then some years ago (2001). But this does not mean that the interreligious model is not worth striving for.


Dr Carl Sterkens (?1971) studied philosophy (BA) and religious studies (BA, MA) at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) and has a doctorate in theology from Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands). Currently he is associate professor of pastoral theology (Faculty of Theology) and empirical religious studies (Faculty of Religious Studies) of Radboud University Nijmegen. He has published on religious education, religion and institutions. Currently, his research focus is on cross-religious comparison of the relation between religiosity, conflict and social cohesion in Indonesia and the Southern Philippines; and on the aims of academic education in theology and religious studies in the European Union.


Sterkens C. (2001). Interreligious Learning. The Problem of Interreligious Dialogue in Primary Education (Empirical Studies in Theology 8). Leiden: Brill.

Sterkens C., van der Ven J.A. (2003). From Intercultural to Interreligious Dialogue? In: Borsboom A., Jespers F. (ed.). Identity and Religion: A multidisciplinary Approach (Nijmegen Studies in Development and Cultural Change 42). Saarbrcken: Verlag fr Entwicklungspolitik. p. 215-246:

Sterkens C. (2007). Changes in Commitment and Religiocentrism through Interreligious Learning. Empirical Results from a Social Constructionist Perspective. In: Pollefeyt D. (ed.) Interreligious Learning (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 201). Louvain: Peeters Press. p. 129-161.

Abstract of Religious Education in Indonesia: Implications for Inter-religious Relations in a Plural Society (by; Mohamad Yusuf)

Indonesia is the world?s fourth largest nation struggling to become the world?s third largest democracy. With eighty five percent of its 230 million people professing Islam, there are more Muslims living in Indonesia than in the entire Middle East. Besides Muslims, there is a minority of Christians (significant because of its economic power) and of Hindus and Buddhists. Historically, Indonesia has displayed not simply religious tolerance but a robust religious syncretism, especially at the village level. However, more recently, and coinciding ironically with the rise of a more democratic and decentralized rule, inter-ethnic violence has made a sometimes vigorous appearance. This has been variously theorized but seems intimately connected to a proliferation of competing local elites suddenly set free from the centralized control of Jakarta. Local differences in religion become a tool of mobilizing identity for the purposes of political influence.

In Indonesia, it is widely assumed that religion and especially religious education is a potent source of identity formation. The reason is that ever since the 1960s, the study of religion has been required by law of all students from elementary through the post-secondary level. New legislation passed in June of 2003 (supported by a majority of Muslims and opposed by a majority of Christians) mandates that each elementary and secondary school must offer every student regular instruction in his/her own religion and taught by teachers professing that religion. This means that each year there are millions and millions of students studying religion and hundreds of thousands of teachers teaching them religion. The impact of this phenomenon upon the construction of identity is considerable. There are varieties of institutional settings where all of this takes place. They range from state (secular) elementary and secondary schools to the privately funded, traditional Islamic schools or pesantren, to Protestant and Catholic private schools. This pattern persists at the post-secondary level.

The fact that the study of religion is required of all students for so many years, and 60 millions people enroll in the subject, and the fact that the study takes place in a variety of highly diverse ideological settings makes Indonesia a promising site for researching the question of the influence of religious education upon inter-ethnic cooperation. The current debate of religious education in Indonesia emerged when the government enacted the National Educational System (NES) in 2003. The NES, which requires schools to provide religious education to each different religious belief of their students, has been elucidated to re-questioning the rights of government to involve itself too far in religious life of citizens. This not only results in distrust among religious believers, but has also insulted religious freedom, namely the freedom of choosing religious education.

For those of us disposed to be friendly towards religion, it is sobering to observe that historically there has been a close association of religion and inter-ethnic hostility and violence. The reason for this seems to be that religion has powerfully to do with belonging, and belonging implies not belonging. Furthermore, it is along these lines of bordering activity that threat and suspicion so often take hold. Perhaps religion is fatally flawed, destined to create both difference and hostility in relationship to the difference it has created. Yet, it is important also to note that world religions, in order to become ?world,? had to expand the construction of identity beyond previous and more narrow borders. The major prophets of world religions all engaged successfully in this activity. One thinks of Mohammad in Mecca or the followers of Jesus whose invitation spread beyond Jerusalem to include the Greco-Roman world. These pastoral practices were then embedded in sacred scriptures that modeled a new and more inclusive belonging, now embracing the former dangerous other.

This dual face of religion?one moving towards intolerance, the other toward tolerance?is likely to be displayed in the differing practices of religious education in contemporary Indonesia. This research, furthermore, aims (1) to discover how religion is taught in different schools. We differentiate schools into four types namely: State schools, Islamic schools, Christian schools, and nationalist schools. These different methods of teaching religions are expected to have a result as to whether (2) to find out whether teaching religions in different schools has any correlation to students? perception, attitudes and behavior towards other religious traditions.


Mohamad Yusuf is the research coordinator and the coordinator of student affairs at Center for religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS). He received his M.A. at CRCS. His research interest are mainly in Anthropological Studies of Religion, Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation and Islamic Movement in Indonesia.


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