The present study focuses on specific aspects in the organization of teaching religion in Indonesia. It analyses the position of religion within the Indonesian Basic Law, consequential legislation, and educational policies. How does this framework translate into national and regional policies pertaining to the emergence, institutionalization, and organization of the Hindu class and the Hindu education system in Bali from 1945 to 2008?
Muslim majority Indonesia constitutes an interesting laboratory for doing fundamental research on religious plurality and transformations of religion. The model of organizing the religion class in Indonesia is rooted in a specific historical, socio-cultural, political, and legal context, which is fundamentally different to European models of religious education. In addition, in contrast to classical Islam and modern Islamic states, Indonesia recognizes Asian religions as equal in status with the religions of the book. Besides Islam and Christianity, Hindu Dharma and Buddhism were recognized as state funded religions in 1965. This recognition had important consequences for the Indonesian model of organizing five confessional religion classes and faith-based education systems.
The Balinese are a rare case of a religious and ethnic minority being simultaneously an ethnic and religious majority. Therefore, the Balinese provide an outstanding case to analyze how Indonesia’s religious and educational policies do deal with that particular ethnic and religious minority. In addition, how do the Balinese themselves use the constitutional and legal framework to establish the Hindu religion class in public schools and a private Hindu education system from the level of pre-school to higher education?
A qualitative examination was conducted basing on a combination of theoretical and empirical investigations. The province of Bali and three educational institutions were chosen, because the Balinese were the reformers of Indonesian Hindu Dharma and the inventors of the Hindu education system. As the study focuses on constitutional and legal contexts of the Hindu class and the Hindu education system, teachers’ professional education, and composition of curricula and textbooks, a qualitative approach was applied combining ethnographic fieldwork and case study research. In consequence, the subject positions the study in the academic disciplines of Religious Studies and Area Studies. Data were collected through bibliographical surveys and fieldwork.
The amended 1945 Basic Law and consequential legislation give the same right to state sanctioned religions. The state is based on “One Supreme Lordship” prescribing national monotheism or monism. Indonesia’s spirited statehood is based on a religious, but not confessional interpretation. In addition, the strategy to manage religious plurality is authoritarian, as positive freedom of religion is limited to six state-funded religions, whereas negative religious freedom is not provided for. Despite the equal status of the six state funded religions, discriminative practices prevail with regard to funding those Asian religions. Notwithstanding, the Muslim majority Pancasila state can serve a model function for countries with illiberal politics in the Muslim world.
The first objective of strategic and educational policies is to mould a citizen who has faith in God, follows the commands of God, and has morals. The dimension of spiritual intelligence in education is a particular Indonesian dimension of education, which Indonesian educational planners added to the UNESCO standards of student-centered learning throughout life. Indonesia organizes the religion class and faith-based education systems in a confessional but pluralistic style. The citizens are required to attend the religious class in the religion they adhere to instructed by a teacher of the same belief from elementary to higher education. In addition, the religious mark is a compulsory item in the school report, and whether a pupil/student stays back or is promoted to the next level depends, amongst other factors, on how the religion teacher grades the student.
Unlike the Muslim or Christian based education systems, the Hindu education system is still marginal and minuscule. Its funding is discriminative. Funding and expansion are linked to national policies, and the personal networks of Hindu agents are given the mandate to organize the Hindu administration and education system.