INDONESIA STUDY GROUP – Political Autonomy and Identity Construction: Education under the Implementation of Aceh’s Special Autonomy and Islamic Sharia by Dr Amaliah Fitriah
Date : 30 Nov 2017
Time : 16:00 - 17:30
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC


Dr Michelle Ann Miller, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore


Political autonomy is thought to potentially help address grievances arising from political, ethnic, religious and cultural groups who express concern over their perceived lack of political representation and their discontent with the allocation of resources. My research explores the impact of autonomy on the identity construction of Aceh in the education sphere. It investigates the autonomy of Aceh in governing its education policies and practices after the implementation of Aceh’s special autonomy and explores how its autonomy has altered and reshaped the identity discourse in Aceh’s education system. I give special attention to the changes brought about by the implementation of the Special Autonomy and Islamic sharia law in reshaping Aceh’s local education system. It focuses on two areas of change: the curriculum, and the local education structure. Education has been designed as the case for this study because the nature of education in Aceh is fundamentally a legacy of conflict, and an arena of continuous identity contestation in the course of history of Aceh-Jakarta relations. Thus, the extent of Aceh’s autonomy in governing its education is argued to indicate the level of autonomy achieved. This research found that Aceh’s special autonomy has indeed contributed to extensive bottom-up autonomy for Aceh through the accommodation of Acehnese distinct identity in education. This is demonstrated by the accommodation of the Islamic curriculum and the dayah education system, as representations of distinct Acehnese identity, into Aceh’s education system. Interestingly, this accommodation has not led to a strongly Islamised education system in Aceh. Rather, this development has resulted in a hybrid education system, one which promotes a greater association and convergence between Aceh’s Islamised and Indonesian secular systems.


Amaliah Fitriah is a researcher at the National Office for Educational Research and Development, the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia. She has recently completed her PhD in the Development Studies Programme, Massey University Palmerston North, New Zealand (2017). She earned her Master Degree from the Development Studies Programme at Massey University (2010) and Bachelor Degree in International Relations, University of Indonesia (2000). Working for the Ministry of Education and Culture since 2005, Amaliah has developed an interest in educational policies and practices in an Indonesian context, in particular, and Southeast Asia, in general. Her particular interests cover education, decentralisation, local government and local politics. She published a joint article in Asia Pacific Education Review (APER) journal, entitled “A Different Result of Community Participation in Education: An Indonesian Case Study of Parental Participation in Public Primary Schools” ( which was mainly based on her Master thesis. Recently, she developed an interest in exploring the relationship between identity construction and education in the context of the Indonesian decentralisation movement. Fitriah chose Aceh as a case study for her PhD thesis to examine the impact of decentralisation policy on the construction of identity in Aceh’s post-conflict education under the implementation of Islamic sharia.


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Contact Person(s)
Minghua TAY