The Religious Affairs Ministry will next year roll out a curriculum with more emphasis on the environment in Islamic boarding schools, also called pesantren.
Ministry director of pesantren Education Chainuri said the new curriculum would teach students not only about the Koran and religion, but also about taking responsibility for the environment, while fostering innovative thinking about environmental protection programs.
“It is apparently not easy to raise awareness about the environment in pesantren, because a number of Islamic boarding schools regard it as a secondary issue,” Chainury said, when addressing a workshop titled “Environmental management and development based on religion and social institution” at the Sunan Ampel Islamic Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN) in Surabaya recently.
“However, the curriculum based on the environment aims to change the image of pesantren.”
He added his office would coordinate with the office of the State Minister for the Environment and academics at the Sunan Ampel IAIN to draft the new curriculum.
The curriculum will also be implemented at madrasah (Islamic schools) for elementary and senior high school students.
Bambang Widiantoro from the department of urban community empowerment affairs at the Office of the State Minister for the Environment said the idea to roll out a new curriculum focusing on environmental issues germinated during a pesantren students’ jamboree held from June 15 to 20, 2009, at Jati Nanggor, Sumedang, West Java, which involved hundreds of pesantren from across the country.
“We also spearheaded the eco-pesantren program last year, after which many pesantren started teaching environmental classes and preaching healthier living at their schools,” he said.
The head of the East Java chapter of the Muhammadiyah Islamic organization, Syafig Mughni, welcomed the program as he recognized that Indonesians were increasingly focusing their attention on environmental issues.
“It’s high time to implement the program, given our environment has become a further cause of concern with deforestation and other issues,” he said.
Syafiq added that his organization was also designing a curriculum focusing on the environment for Muhammadiyah’s Islamic schools across East Java, which would be implemented next year.
“We are currently training teachers to run classes on the environment. A number of environmental education programs will be developed incorporating fiqih *Islamic jurisprudence*, such as the need to wash hands with soap, proper waste disposal and producing organic fertilizer from garbage,” he said.
IAIN Sunan Ampel rector Nur Syam said his university would conduct further research on the importance of environmental management and development based on religion, to promote the environmentally-based curriculum in Islamic schools.
“We will publicize results of the research in a journal and manual for pesantren students, teachers and provide training and counseling at a number of pesantren that will serve as a pilot project,” he said.