Jakarta. Indonesia and the Philippines on Wednesday (14/02) held a workshop in Jakarta, as both countries seek to advance cooperation in furthering Islamic education as part of an effort to prevent the spread of radicalism.
"Education is the key to being free from ignorance and backwardness, to turn the youth into agents of peace and tolerance," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said during her opening speech.
She added that education is also crucial in preventing poverty, conflict and radicalism.
In January, Retno launched the Indonesia-Philippines cooperation in Islamic education during her visit to Davao City, as part of the government’s commitment to help the Philippines fight against extremism in the aftermath of the siege in Marawi city last year.
The conflict, which took place between May and October, left more than 1,100 people dead and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes. It also raised concerns in Indonesia and Malaysia, both fearing that militants could flee the fighting to nearby Sulawesi and Maluku in Indonesia and Sabah in Malaysia.
By June, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines held a trilateral meeting as a subregional response to the conflict, where the three countries agreed to cooperate on the joint development and implementation of counterterrorism measures and strategies.
Retno said that this cooperation is a follow-up to what they had agreed on during the trilateral meeting, with possibilities to expand the cooperation to include Malaysia, and also other countries, to promote peace and tolerance.
Furthermore, she said this cooperation must aim to promote the true face of Islam as well as modern and high-quality Islamic education, while also involving relevant stakeholders from civil society, including religious leaders and religious organizations.
"Islamic education institutions must equip students not only with Islamic values but also knowledge and skills to enable them to compete in the professional world," Retno said.
Therefore, the curriculum must be constantly updated to adjust to contemporary developments, while keeping true to the core identity of Islamic values, she added.
The government hopes the future of this cooperation will include exchanges between Indonesian and Philippine students and teachers, joint curriculum development and also professional development.
"It is also my hope that this workshop could come up with recommendations as a basis for the establishment of a memorandum of understanding on Islamic education," Retno said.
The workshop also aims to create a roadmap for Indonesia-Philippines cooperation in this field.
This week’s workshop will be attended by 28 participants from Indonesia and the Philippines, representing various institutions and ministries, including Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama and the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and the Philippine Ministry of Education and Institute of Islamic Studies.