Suherdjoko, Semarang, Central Java – In an effort to eradicate radicalism and intolerance at school, the Central Java Education and Culture Agency is to commence tolerance education pilot projects in 20 schools in Solo Raya, which includes Surakarta city and its surrounding regencies, starting next month.
The initiative was introduced following the latest case of intolerance at Gemolong 1 State High School in Sragen regency last week, in which a female student was bombarded by threats sent through WhatsApp because she did not wear a hijab.
The threats were reportedly sent by other students who were active in the school's religion club.
Jumeri, head of the Central Java Education and Cultural Agency, said the office decided to launch the pilot projects after the establishment of an advocacy team tasked to curb radicalism and intolerance at schools.
"The team has advised to make programs in cities or regencies that often see heated tensions from cases of intolerance and radicalism. In executing [the pilot project] we will cooperate with several parties, including the Wahid Foundation," Jumeri said.
The projects are to be conducted within three to six months, he said, adding that the agency was currently in the process of selecting the Solo Raya schools that would participate.
"What we will do is to give education and training to [students] to respect diversity and differences," he said.
"We will start with Sragen," Jumeri added. "We will also do a special program to educate teachers, students and staff, as well as the principals of schools in several cities and regencies that see simmering [intolerance] tensions."
In the future, the agency said it expected that such a tolerance education program could be carried out in every school in Central Java – both in public and private schools – especially at high school level.
There are currently about 3,000 high schools and vocational schools in the province, of which 640 are public schools.
"All [school] principals have signed integrity pacts in which they guarantee that their schools are not radical. It needs to be underlined that radicalism is not identical with Islam, but with other religions also," he said.
Jumeri said the agency would sanction anyone within an educational institution who carried out intolerant actions. Teachers who were found committing such actions, for instance, could be fired or demoted from their positions, he added. (gis)