...Islamic boarding school can become a place to (learn about) business, not only a place to seek knowledge.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Ministry is striving to realize the community’s economic independence by establishing Pondok Pesantren (Islamic boarding school) Cooperatives (Kopontren).

"The government is committed and very serious about helping Islamic boarding schools become economically independent," Cooperatives and SMEs Minister Teten Masduki remarked at the National Santri Day commemoration and the kick-off of the centenary of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), according to a press release received on Saturday.

Islamic boarding schools can become centers of community economic empowerment through the development of micro waqf institutions as well as baitul maal wa tamwil (BMT/sharia cooperatives), he added.

Several programs have been carried out by the ministry for developing a Kopontren-based economy, including the provision of revolving fund financing with a very low interest rate of three percent.

The government is also providing cluster people's business credit (KUR) with a budget ceiling of Rp373.17 trillion in 2022 and Rp400 trillion in 2023, the minister informed.

"We will develop a pilot project for the development of cluster KUR (in the schools) since Islamic boarding school can become a place to (learn about) business, not only a place to seek knowledge," he stated.

Through the Kopontren, Islamic boarding schools can take advantage of the social forestry program so that students and communities who are members of cooperatives can manage government-owned land to earn their livelihoods, he added.

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The government will provide easy access to smallholder entrepreneurs to get up to 2 hectares of land, Masduki said. The government has prepared 12.7 hectares of land for entrepreneurs to manage.

"Through the management of the forests for productive activities (program), it is expected that the community's economy will improve," he added at the event, which took place at Pondok Pesantren An-Nur 2 Al-Murtadlo, Malang, East Java province.

The caretaker of the Islamic boarding school, Fathul Bari, lauded the government's efforts and policies, which have consistently supported all Islamic boarding schools in Indonesia.

In the future, he said he expects the schools to advance their economy and science aspects through various government programs.

"Thanks to the support from the minister (Masduki), the economy of Islamic boarding schools can become more independent and run well. Hopefully, the minister can continue to support Islamic boarding schools in East Java (specifically) and throughout Indonesia generally," he added.

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Translator: Baqir Alatas, Uyu Liman
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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