Many mosques in Indonesia start schools for private religious education. A madrasah is one such type of school. Another type is a pesantren. One difference between the two schools is that a pesantren has boarding for the students, and usually a madrasah does not (though we have seen some that do).

Madrasah Nurul Islam

Madrasah Nurul Islam
Madrasah Nurul Islam was started in 1915. Two other schools, Madrasah Nurul Iman, as well as Pondok Pesantren Sa’adatuddaren, claim to have started the same year, and they are all located in a 1 mile radius.

We recently interviewed the principle of Madrasah Nurul Islam, Drs. H. Abdulah Umar (67 years old), who has been teaching at Madrasah Nurul Islam for 45 years. He indicated that before WWII there were as many as 800 students studying at Madrasah Nurul Islam. He said at this time there are far fewer. He indicated that many parents are not as supportive of the school as they once were, and now want their children to go to the public schools.

Attendance at Madrasah Nurul Islam (according to Mr. Abudulah):

Preschool: 60 children and 5 teachers
Elementary: 80 children and 8 teachers
Jr. High: 10 children
High School: 0

Mr. Abdulah said there are several Madrasahs in the City of Jambi, located on the north side of the Batanghari River. We’ve listed a few of them below. They can be found by clicking on their respective links below.

1. Madrasah Nurul Iman

Our post and video about this school can be seen by clicking this link.

2. Madrasah Nurul Islam

3. Pondok Pesantren Sa’adatuddaren

Pondok Pesantren Sa’adatuddaren

a. Pondok—hut/cabin
b. Pesantren— pe-santri-an. Santri means “student” in the Javanese language. So “pesantrian” would have a meaning similar to discipleship.
c. Sa’adatuddaren—salvation in this world, and in the hereafter.

4. Pondok Pesantren As’ad

This pesantren is located along the bank of the Batanghari River, across from the main part of the City of Jambi. The construction of this pesantren’s new campus (Ma’Had Aly)  was started in July of 2011. The new campus can be found by clicking this link.

Madrasah Aliyah Negeri (MAN)

5. Madrasah Aliyah Negeri

This Islamic High School is managed and sponsored by the Indonesian Dept. of Education.

Indonesian public schools refer to the grade levels with a different name than what the madrasahs  and pesantrens use. Below are the variations:


  • For preschools, madrasahs use the wordRaudatul athfal.” (though not commonly spoken).
  • The commonly used abbreviation for a preschool is “TK” (tay kah) which is derived from “Taman Kanak-Kanak,” (children’s park).   The word “Playgroup” is also quite common.

 Elementary (classes 1-6):

  • For elementary schools, madrasahs use the word “Ibtidaiyah.”
  • Public schools use the word Sekolah Dasar (SD—basic school)

 Middle school (classes 1-3):

  • For Jr. High / Middle Schools, madrasahs use the word “tsanawiyah.”
  • Public schools use the word Sekolah Menengah Pertama (SMP—primary middle school)
  • The most recent change for the name of Indonesia’s middle school is: “Sekolah Lanjutan Tingkat Pertama” (SLTP—primary level advanced school). Though the name was changed a number of years ago, the old acronym (SMP) is still clinging on.

 High School(classes 1-3):

The sign on Madrasah Aliyah Negeri (MAN).

  • For High Schools, madrasahs use the word “Aliyah.”
  • Public schools use the phrase Sekolah Menengah Atas (SMA—top middle school).
  • The most recent change for the name of Indonesia’s High School is:  “Sekolah Lanjutan Tingkat Atas” (SLTA—top level advanced school).  As with the JR. High school, which, though the name was changed, still uses its previous acronym, SMA.