Yogyakarta (ANTARA) - Women's Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA) Minister Bintang Puspayoga has asked Islamic boarding schools (pesantren) to set an example for educational institutions in preventing violence against children.

"Pesantren is the largest and oldest Islamic educational institution in Indonesia that has a strategic role and position in protecting Indonesian children," she said during a visit to Islamic boarding school Madrasah Muallimat Muhammadiyah in Yogyakarta on Wednesday.

The minister emphasized pesantren's vital role in preventing violence against children in the school environment since religious involvement would have a strong influence on child protection efforts.

As per data from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the number of Islamic boarding schools in Indonesia has reached 36 thousand with the number of active santris (students) recorded at 3.4 million and the number of teachers, both kyai, ustadz (scholars), and ustadzah (women scholars), pegged at 370 thousand.

Puspayoga said that pesantrens have a strong influence on teaching discipline and parenting. The ministry is encouraging pesantrens and madrasas that are child-friendly and fun for children's growth through adolescence.

"Thus, children can better improve their achievement in learning and other skills," she added.

She expressed her full support for the initiative by Madrasah Muallimat Muhammadiyah to form a child-loving women’s boarding school, as a derivative program of Aisyiyah, an Islamic NGO for women’s empowerment.

She expressed the hope that the fostering and education system at Madrasah Muallimat Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta would inspire other pesantrens in the country.

The minister pointed out that information on cases of sexual violence against children has increased recently, which shows rising social awareness of abusive actions perpetrated against children.

"The issue of women and children is a very complex and multisectoral issue; it cannot be handled by the government alone. It needs synergy and cooperation with religious leaders, traditional leaders, and all levels of society," Puspayoga said.

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Translator: Luqman H, Kenzu
Editor: Tia Mutiasari
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