Less Time for Science, and More for Religion?

If an Indonesian government proposal goes through, millions of elementary school students in that country will lose their science classes, with that time spent on increased religious education instead. Science may still be taught as part of other classes, but it will not have separate, compulsory classes, as religion does.

For this feature for IHT Education, Sara Schonhardt talked to teachers and students in Jakarta about curriculum changes that could take place across the Muslim-majority country by June.

After the proposal was released to the public in November, parents and teachers started a petition against it. The government claims that the public is generally supportive of the changes, but there have also been many voices of opposition.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago with 240 million people, is one of Asia’s fastest developing nations. It has been upgrading its manufacturing and services industries and is producing more skilled workers. The business sector has encouraged greater instruction in fields like computer science. Given that, some feel that increasing religious education, to the detriment of science training, is a step backward.

Srisetiowati Seiful of the non-profit Surya Institute told Sara:

‘‘We’re going to have a lost generation… It’s going to mean fewer researchers, less technology development. It’s Indonesia entering the dark ages.’’