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Indonesian school promotes diversity, tolerance among students

A private school with four houses of worship on its campus promotes diversity and tolerance among students in Indonesia.
Four houses of worship of different religions promoting tolerance at the Sultan Iskandar Muda School in Indonesia.

A private school with four houses of worship on its campus promotes diversity and tolerance among students in Indonesia.

Tolerance can be interpreted as an attitude of mutual respect and reverence for differences. There are many kinds of tolerance, including religious tolerance, ethnic, racial, and cultural tolerance.

Indonesian Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology (Mendikbudristek), Nadiem Makarim, was amazed to witness four houses of worship of different religions promoting tolerance at the Sultan Iskandar Muda School, Medan, North Sumatra Province.

Makarim admitted that it was the first time for him to see four houses worship in one school.

The school's decision to build four houses of worship shows the spirit of diversity and tolerance, he said.

"Today is a very inspiring day for me," said Makarim. "This [school] has a positive ambiance to be a pilot school. I am sitting here where there is a Buddhist temple, a Hindu temple, a church, and a mosque. All in the same location and it becomes an extraordinary symbol of diversity and tolerance," he affirmed.

The advantage of the school is a multicultural character. This means that there are diverse ethnicities, religions, races, and cultures of students, who are taught the differences among one another, said the principal of the Sultan Iskandar Muda Foundation Junior High School, Dra. Listiani. 

"In this school, we have an interfaith prayer. This interfaith prayer happens during the flag ceremony every Monday. We do interfaith prayer as Islam, Christian, Buddhism, and Hinduism," she added.

Listiani stressed that in every school event the interfaith prayers always take place. Her confidence became the hallmark of the school.

"When studying religion, students go to their respective houses of worship—Muslims go to the mosque, Christians to the church, Hindus to their temple, and Buddhists to their temple also," she explained.

These four houses of worship were built side by side, according to Listiani.

Explaining the purpose, she said, "Students are used to these houses of worship, so they know their place of prayer. With this house of worship, we value and respect one another and respect religions." 

The school has approximately 700 students. 

Efforts to take care of students' cultural and religious diversity and foster a school culture that is tolerant of differences have been occurring for a long time in the school since its establishment in 1988.

Besides, the school develops an attitude of tolerance alongside humanitarian and social activities as well as a sense of sharing with those who are economically in need or the victims of a disaster.

The four houses of worship have stood firmly at the Sultan Iskandar School. It is the symbol of the importance of inter-religious harmony to uphold tolerance in society.

North Sumatra province is located in the northern part of Sumatra Island.

The capital of the province is Medan City. North Sumatra is the fourth most populous province in Indonesia, with Muslims being the majority (63.36%), while Protestant is about 26.66%, Catholic 7.33%, Buddhist 2.43%, Confucian 0.11%, and Hindu 0.10% of the population.

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