As the world’s most populous Muslim country, Ma’ruf said Indonesia has more than 18.5 million santri.
“This is a very large number [of santri] and it has a potential that needs to be developed for the benefit of the people in the economic sector,” Ma’ruf said during a virtual 2020 International Seminar on Millennial Santri in conjunction with the National Santri Day on Thursday, October 22.
Ma'ruf said that this potential was in line with his hopes that the Islamic boarding schools should not only become centers for producing Muslim clerics but also as centers for economic empowerment.
He lauded several community programs initiated through the collaboration of the Islamic boarding schools, such as providing convenient stores in time of calamity and developing cooperatives for the santri, and the development of a business incubation center for the Islamic boarding school students and a mobile apps service.
“More collaborations must be done between the Islamic boarding school students and industry players to bring prosperity to the people,” he said.
He added that the government has committed to funding 209,449 Islamic boarding schools and institutions by allocating 2.6 trillion rupiahs ($1.7 billion).
This assistance is to support online learning, operational costs, and health care programs for Covid-19 prevention and control in Islamic boarding schools, among others. The funding is provided for the Islamic boarding schools in all 34 provinces in the country from 2020 to 2024, he added.