Title: Can Interreligious Education in the form of ‘Study of Religions’ Course Change the Perspective of IRE Study Programme Students to be more inclusive towards other religions? (Online only)

Author: Ahmad Hakam

Theme: Building Community; Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Religion is an important aspect in Indonesia. Based on Law No. 20/2003, all schools must provide religious subject for all students and should be taught by religious education teachers of the same faith. The teaching of religion at schools is mostly conducted in a confessional manner, i.e. to strengthen students’ existing belief and internalise religious values. The minimum engagement with other religions in a learning process do not always lead to the best result, especially within the multi-religious society like Indonesia. Religious Education (RE) teachers are trained at universities that have RE study programmes. A massive survey carried out in 34 provinces in the country has indicated that IRE teachers at school had intolerant opinions about other faiths (Yunita et al., 2020). In a recent case which happened in a public high school in Jakarta, for example, a teacher was reported to have promoted secretly among Muslim students through Whatsapp group to vote only the Muslim candidates for the chair of intra-school students organisation or OSIS to ‘protect’ their creed from the threat of other faith, particularly Christians. The concern and the urgency of promoting interreligious understanding has been disseminated in many publications. Yet, empirical research has not been done in IRE teachers training institution. This study aims to explore to what extent interreligious education in the form of ‘study of religions’ course can change the perspective of current IRE study programme students  (as future IRE teachers) at two well-known universities in Jakarta area to be more inclusive towards other faiths? The course and learning activities will be examined, and the students of the ‘study of religions’ course will be interviewed. Preliminary ‘semi-structured interview’ via online forms (pre and post-test) has indicated that there are changes in their view towards other religions before and after taking the ‘study of religions’ course, implying a positive impact.