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And now to the writing on Madrassa,  Gontor, Indonesia

''TEACHER ALI, was vague about what he taught   *-some English, and science, and religion*  -offering a first hint-

*That academic rigour was not the school's strong suit*. 

At a public-speaking exam I attended later, young men stood around a courtyard, each with an assessor, shouting out random sentences that were barely audible in the general din.

Even some of the older students struggled to communicate with me in basic English, despite having studied the language for years.

But many of Gontor's pupils come from poor and remote parts of Indonesia, and they cannot afford a better education elsewhere. 

The regional mix within the student body has a valuable levelling effect in a country marked by deep inequalities.

*The students/children also learn independence, frugality and egalitarianism*.

They sleep 30 to a room and have few possessions save a mattress, some clothes, toiletries and books. 

School days run from 4:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. Discipline is tight.

Students take turns serving serving meals in the dinning hall and staffing the supply shop.

So-called  courts  convene every evening to hand out punishments for infractions like littering or violating the dress code. And though Gontor's response to Islamism isn't entirely coherent-

The school is consistent in encouraging respect for religious diversity and tolerance.

Rather than condemn outright terrorists attacks carried out in the name of Islam, some teachers fingered a purportedly biased international media and Israel as the main villains.

When I brought up the fact that Jemaah Islamiyah's mastermind, Abu Bakar Bashir, had attended Gontor in the mid-20th century, several teachers just pursed their lips.

Condemnation of Islamic State was clearer, with Mr.Ali, for example, saying that the group's members just misuse Islam as a backdrop for their own beliefs'.

Dihayutun Masqoon Ahmad, one of Gontor's most senior teachers, told me with pride that the school was nonpartisan on theological matters, and served as a meeting point  'for all groups'.

Mostly, he meant that Gontor, unlike most pesantren, is not exclusively associated with either Indonesia's rival Islamic organizations, the traditional Nahdlatul Ulama and the modernist Muhammadiyah-

Which together have tens of millions of members and often provide education and health care in rural areas where government services are lacking.

Robin Bush, a political scientist and expert on Islamic politics in Indonesia, argues that many Islamic boarding schools, including Gontor, foster a culture of debate: 

By introducing Students to the to the four major schools of Sunni Jurisprudence.

*The concept of the contestation of  ideas emerging naturally in pesantren,* Mr Bush disclosed. 

In fact, some researchers have concluded that secular universities, not religious schools, are the main breeding grounds of radicalism in Indonesia.

Ms Jones, I.P.A.C., (Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict)   pointed out that most suspected terrorists arrested in recent years have come from state schools, rather than Islamic one.''

The Honour and Serving of the  ''operational research'' continues. Thank you for reading, and see Ya all on the following one.

With respectful dedication to all the great religions of the world from,  !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' 21st Century '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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