Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Six Catholic schools in Blitar, a town in East Java
Province, will not be closed, nor will they have to provide compulsory
courses on Islam and the Qur'an in response to an injunction by local
authorities, this according to B. Djokodwihatmono, executive secretary of the Education
Commission of the Indonesian Bishops of Conference (KWI). Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that after three days
of "intense talks" between local officials and members of the John Gabriel
Foundation, which acted on behalf of the Diocese of Surabaya, tensions were
eased, resulting in a "happy ending".
The six schools in danger of closure were Diponegoro Catholic High
School, Catholic Vocational Training High School, Saint Mary KG, Saint Mary
Elementary School, Yos Sudarso Catholic Elementary and Yos Sudarso Catholic
Junior High School.
At the end of last year, they received an injunction from the city to
implement Regional Order 8/2012 by "19 January", which required that Muslim
pupils be taught Islam in school (in accordance with National Law 55/2007).
School administrators reacted firmly against Blitar's threat of closure.
They noted that parents and pupils who register with the schools are "fully
cognizant of the fact that only the Christian religion is taught in these
schools". Muslim families have readily accepted such a requirement because
Catholic schools are known for their high quality education.
In recent days, the issue was made more complicated by some reports in
Jakarta's English-language media according to which the Catholic schools were
willing to offer courses on Islam.
Such inaccurate and wrong information stems from a statement made by an
official with the John Gabriel Foundation who, without any authorisation, said
the schools were prepared to submit to the ultimatum. This led to heated and
angry discussions among Indonesian Christians.
The issue was finally solved through the mediation of Catholic leaders,
including the bishop of Surabaya, Mgr Vincentius Sutikno Wisaksono.
"I am firmly convinced that the city of Blitar has officially dropped
its injunction," B. Djokodwihatmono said.
Sources in Blitar City Hall, anonymous because unauthorised to make any
public statement, noted that the decision to pull back is due to pressures from
the Indonesian Democracy Party
Struggle (PDIP), which backed the city's current leadership in the last