Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2009
International Centre for Islam and Pluralism


This profile was prepared when M. Syafii Anwar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Syafi’i is reforming the Indonesian Islamic school system by enriching the curriculums of Islamic boarding schools with practical skills-building and training alongside religious education. His organization, the International Center for Islam and Pluralism (ICIP), seeks to apply the values and discipline that boarding school students are taught toward addressing their communities’ economic needs and their own livelihoods. Syafi’i has coordinated with government schools to develop curriculums that include formal equivalent degrees and opened direct connections to information online, which had been a limiting factor in Islamic boarding school education. He is working directly with leaders of Islamic boarding schools to expand the texts that are used, hoping to give students a range of scholarly reflections on Islamic texts as well as access to information about any other field they may choose to pursue.

For the most part, the communities that surround Islamic boarding schools are poor and have little education. Syafi’i’s model for education directly addresses their practical needs by providing educational CDs and Internet research facilities to teach techniques in organic farming, biogas production, and online business without sacrificing a religious education. By bringing Islamic boarding school education into the age of Internet, Syafi’i enriches students’ understanding of religion to extend beyond their spirituality, connecting what they believe with the practical skills of how to live and work prosperously.

Syafi’i’s educational model can be applied to other Islamic societies besides Indonesia; his vision is to create change in Islamic education for the wider community in Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and eventually globally.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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