Apparently charmed by veiled Indonesian girls’ familiarity with the masterpieces of Led Zeppelin, US Ambassador to Indonesia Ralph Boyce has landed a huge aid package for madrassas and more. But who will be monitoring what these schools teach about jihad? Who will make sure that radical Muslim leader Abu Bakar Bashir, who has escaped serious punishment from the government for his role in the Bali bombings, won’t have a hand in guiding the curriculum? From Reuters, with thanks to Nicolei:
JAKARTA: The United States announced yesterday US$468mil (RM1.77bil) in aid to Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, earmarking part of it to improve Islamic schools, which have been blamed for encouraging fundamentalism….
The US will provide US$157mil (RM596mil) over five years to improve quality of education, US$236mil (RM896mil) for the same length for other basic human services, and US$75mil (RM285mil) in food assistance.
“Pesantrens, madrassas, public schools, private schools. It has been drafted with the advice and input of the ministry of education and religious affairs,” US ambassador to Indonesia Ralph Boyce said when asked about the target of the school aid.
Boyce has been active in visiting Indonesia’s thousands of pesantrens in recent years. He was once surprised when a drum band of veiled girls from a moderate Islamic school welcomed him with a rendition of rock anthem Stairway to Heaven.