The Indonesian government has issued a decree banning regional governments and public schools from mandating religious elements on student uniforms, following a public outcry over an implementation of the discriminatory rule just last month.
The Education and Culture Ministry, Internal Affairs Ministry, and Home Affairs Ministry issued the joint decree (SKB) yesterday, mandating that teachers, students, and school staff have the right to choose their attires, be it with or without religious attributes.
Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim said that the SKB specifically regulates state-run schools throughout Indonesia, though there's exception for public schools in Aceh due to the province's practice of sharia law.
"The key or essence of the SKB is that the students, teachers, and education personnel are the ones who are entitled to choose. Wearing religious attributes is the decision of an individual, be it students, teachers, and parents, not public schools," Nadiem said.
"Regional governments and schools are not allowed to prohibit uniforms with specific religious elements."
Regional governments and school principals throughout the country have 30 days to repeal the old regulations that prohibited or obligated attires associated with specific religions. Failure to do so will result in administrative sanctions.
Speaking at the Mata Najwa talk show last night, Vice President Ma'ruf Amin harked back to the controversy that led to the SKB, namely a Christian girl being made to wear a Hijab at a public high school in Padang, West Sumatra.
"I think [wearing the hijab] should not be obligatory, should not be prohibited, meaning that it comes back to each student, each parent to decide how they should behave. Of course for those who are Muslim, who understand that [the hijab] is an obligation, then they will [decide] to wear it [themselves]," Ma'ruf said.
"So, no forcing. I think this is the maturity in religion, the nation, and the state, so there's no need for any rules that force, forbid, or require."