Muslim women and education in Indonesia: the Pondok Pesantren experience

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Journal article
Srimulyani, E. 2006 'Muslim women and education in Indonesia: the Pondok Pesantren experience', Asia Pacific Journal of Education: Special Issue On Muslim Education, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 195-207.
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The pondok pesantren education is a "traditional" form of Muslim education in Indonesia. This boarding school system can be traced back to the 18th century or further. However, it was not until 1930 that the pesantren officially admitted female students, beginning with the Pesantren Denanyar of Jombang. The acceptance of female students in the pesantren was a significant breakthrough in the Indonesian Islamic context. It has led to a unique provision of Muslim education in a largely gender-segregated setting, although the strictness of this depends on the flexibility of the pesantren leader. This paper provides a qualitative, socio-historical perspective of the current state of pesantren education for women in Indonesia, and the challenges faced in achieving gender equity. It discusses the positioning of female students vis-a-vis limited access to public space, their roles - both expected and aspired to - in society, gender bias in teaching material, and the male-centred structure of authority within the institution. While acknowledging the contributions that the pesantren have made to the education of Muslim women in Indonesia, this paper urges them to address such internal tensions to improve the quality of education provided to women.
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