This study aims to (1) describe the position of Islamic Religious Education in the Indonesian National Education System, (2) reveal the condition of Islamic Religious Education (IRE) in North Minahasa, and (3) analyze the accessibility of IRE for Islamic students in non-Muslim elementary schools. A qualitative-descriptive method was used for this analysis, with primary data being obtained and identified through informants. Meanwhile, books, scientific journals, and other pieces of relevant literature were used as secondary data and analyzed inductively. The results showed that elementary schools did not pragmatically have Islamic Religious Education services although the rights of the Muslim students in obtaining them had been guaranteed by the Indonesian Government through the National Education System (NES) Law Number 20 of 2003. This led to the inaccessibility of the educational services, with the main factor being the insufficient number of Islamic students, as required by the NES. Despite the unfulfilled quota to obtain these services, government control as policymakers was still needed. This indicated that the ministry and the education office at the central and regional levels should have alternative solutions, respectively, without being negligent in resolving the problematic condition. Based on these results, the patterns by which the state failed in the equal availability and accessibility of religious education to Indonesian students were observed at all levels of state elementary schools under its regulation. These subsequently strengthened inequalities in this educational field while practicing religious discrimination based on accessibility. Additionally, the results suggest that the central and regional Indonesian governments, as well as other related agencies, need to be more proactive in providing religious education services to all institutional students. This leads to the availability of equality in obtaining education for all citizens, as mandated by law.

1. Introduction

Indonesian education has shortly achieved remarkable success since the 1945 independence, based on the learning conditions within the country [1]. However, a question was observed regarding the success levels of education availability and accessibility to all citizens, which is a consistent problem within the country’s educational institutions. According to Fadhil and Rayess [2], the implementation of Indonesian learning policies was inadequate, with Wijaya [3] stating that the redefinition of educational success was necessary. These reports led to the focus on learning availability and accessibility, especially IRE (Islamic Religious Education) at the elementary school level, which is different from most reports evaluating general [4] and religious [5] educational conditions. This leads to (a) improvement and development of educational systems, management, facilities, and infrastructures [6], (b) preparation of educational curriculum, standardization, recruitment, and training, as well as learning systems [7], and (c) the competitive patterns of educational graduates compete in different job fields [8, 9]. It also considers that the present educational challenges in Indonesia are the learning availability and accessibility for every citizen towards the creation of equity and justice. Education reportedly has the ability to realize the social, national, state, or religious ideals and dreams of every child [10]. This explains that formal education is one of the processes and pathways providing guarantees and legality for Indonesian children towards the achievement of goals under the auspices of recognized educational institutions [11]. In this condition, learning accessibility is the dream of every child, as a forum for seeking knowledge, as well as developing their interests and talents. Furthermore, education increases the competitiveness of Indonesians [12], with some children observed not to have access due to various factors [13]. Besides this, most of them do not also obtain equal educational services in their learning institutions [14], as the quality of knowledge is partly determined by the value of education [15].

In Indonesia, every citizen reportedly has educational rights and obligations, which are contained in the 1945 Constitution Article 31 Paragraphs 1–5, where the following are observed: (a) Every citizen has the educational right (Paragraph 1). (b) Every citizen is obliged to attend elementary education, with the government funding the process (Paragraph 2). (c) The government seeks and organizes a National Education System, which increases faith, piety, and a noble character (Paragraph 3). (d) The state prioritizes the educational expense with approximately 20% from the State and Regional Budgets to meet the needs of National Education administration (Paragraph 4). (e) The government advances science and technology through religious values ​​and national unity for the civilization advancement and mankind welfare (Paragraph 5). According to Law Number 20 of 2003, National Education is based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, which is rooted in religious values and INC (Indonesian National Culture) while being responsive to the demands of changing times. It is also defined as a conscious and planned effort to create a learning atmosphere and process, enabling students to actively develop their spiritual, religious, self-control, personality, intelligence, noble character, and skill potentials, which are individually, environmentally, nationally, and regionally needed [16]. Moreover, the function of National Education emphasized the development of capabilities and good characters, as well as the progress of a dignified and educative nation. This is based on developing the potential of students to become democratic, responsible, and religious individuals, which have noble, knowledgeable, capable, creative, and independent characters. Based on these conditions, the NES (National Education System) shows that the role and values of religion are important in every educational process for students to acquire spiritual attitudes and good and noble characters, as well as faithfulness and piousness. This is because the development of good morals and attitudes is impossible without the role of religion. These are in line with Oyshi et al. [17] and Sarchami et al. [18], where religion or belief played an important role in education. IRE also has a real and strategic foundation due to being a key element capable of contributing to the welfare of mankind and the nation, compared to the spiritual knowledge in the Middle East, South Asia, and other Islamic regions. Based on Abdullah [19], this condition was not very promising for humanity, prosperity, and global peace. This real and strategic foundation was observed in the National Education System Law Number 20 of 2003, although new problems have reportedly been found in several cases, especially law implementation. In this condition, the implemented law did not easily resolve the educational problems observed in Indonesia. Besides this, various problems were also found within the country, as people still need to work hard in several learning sectors to appropriately function in National Education. This focused on the achievement of objectives as intended by the law.

The learning process of IRE is systematically applied to develop the potential of students regarding the principles of the Islamic religion. This is to achieve a balanced overall human growth, which is carried out with mental training, reasoning, intelligence, and feelings, with the five senses possessing the interconnection of Islamic Religious and National Education being unseparated. The IRE is also part of the National Education (NE) regarding Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, which is rooted in religious values, for students’ potential to be developed towards becoming pious, faithful, good, and responsible citizens. Based on the NES Law Number 20 of 2003, the position of Islamic Religious Education was observed in several articles, such as (1) Article 12 Paragraph 1a, where the students in every educational unit had the right to obtain religious education according to the religiosity adhered and taught by the educators with similar religion. This was due to the present requirement of the educational process as stated in Government Regulation Number 55 of 2007, concerning religious education, and (2) Article 3 Paragraph 1, where every educational unit at all lines, levels, and types was obliged to provide religious learning. This proved that Islamic Religious Education needs to be taught by educators with similar religions as the students for their rights to be met. From these two articles, the local government adjusted to the needs of each school should be necessarily considered to facilitate students towards obtaining education according to their religious practices. This was in line with the NES Law Number 20 of 2003 in Article 41 Paragraph 3, which stated that the central and regional governments were obliged to facilitate all institutional units, with the educators and education personnel needed to ensure the implementation of quality learning. Furthermore, Government Regulation Number 55 of 2007 in Article 6 Paragraph 1 stated that religious educators were often provided by the central or regional administration, according to their respective authorities on the provisions of the legislation. This was based on improving the quality of educational units and avoiding the areas without excess educators and learning personnel. The field reality also shows that the implementation of the NES Law Number 20 of 2003 is different from the rules enacted by the government, as some state elementary schools are still vacant or do not have IRE subjects and teachers. In North Minahasa, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, this occurrence was observed within some basic institutions, especially the Suwaan State and Kawangkoan Presidential-Instruction Elementary Schools. In the religious learning processes of these institutions, the Islamic students often obtain lessons from other religions (Christian Education) taught by Christian educators. This was not in line with the achievement of students’ rights, as observed in the NES Law Number 20 of 2003 in Article 12 Paragraph 1a. Besides this, similar religion-based educators also play an important role in teaching Islamic Religious Education due to having different duties and responsibilities in determining the educational direction and success/failure. This is due to the broad range of institutional religious education, which is not only based on spiritual learning processes.

According to these conditions, institutional education needs to have the ability to develop all fields intellectually and spiritually, based on being an inseparable human part and an endless process. This has the ability to lead Muslim students to the establishment of 3 aspects of IRE goals [20], namely, faith, worship, and morals. Therefore, this learning process is based on shaping different Muslim personalities according to Islamic teachings. IRE also has specific attainable goals at every level, with the elementary school responsible for the following: (a) cultivating a sense of religion in students, (b) fostering the feelings of love for Allah and His Messenger, (c) introducing global Islamic teachings, (d) adapting to virtuous and noble characters through the guidance of students, and (e) habituation towards being a good role model. This was in line with Arifin [21], where the IRE in the Indonesian National Education System was one of the materials that should be taught in formal educational institutions, from elementary to tertiary levels. These descriptions indicate that this subject is important for Muslim students, with the role of a similar religion-based educator being essential in the achievement of goals. The subjects’ unavailability and teachers’ vacancy cases are also a form of noncompliance by educational providers towards the NES Law Number 20 of 2003 in Article 12 Paragraph 1a. This subsequently affects the knowledge and personality of Muslim students regarding their religion. Therefore, the basics of religious education need to be instilled from the elementary level, as difficulties are often observed to a higher stage when inappropriately applied to the concerned children.

Reviewing the literature, no research has analyzed the availability and accessibility of students regarding Islamic Religious Education services in state elementary schools in non-Muslim base areas as in North Minahasa. This motivates the authors to find out how Islamic Religious Education services in North Minahasa. Based on the description of the background of the problem above, the main objectives of this research are (1) to describe the position of Islamic education in the Indonesian National Education System; (2) to reveal the condition of Islamic Religious Education in North Minahasa; (3) to analyze the accessibility of Islamic Religious Education for Muslim students in public elementary schools in non-Muslim base areas.

2. Literature Review

Daulay and Tobroni [22] showed that IRE was different from Islamic education (IE) due to dealing with the religious subjects taught in various institutions, including the elementary school. Meanwhile, IE had a wider scope encompassing institutions, thoughts, philosophy, history, and theory. As stated in Government Regulation Number 55 of 2007, IRE provided knowledge and shaped the attitudes, personalities, and skills of students towards practicing the religious teachings carried out through the subjects/lectures on all paths, levels, and types of education [23]. This explained that religious education had a juridical basis, which was obtained from the State Ideology of Pancasila, the NES (National Education System) Law, and other regulations supportive as a positional reinforcement. In Indonesia, religious education, including IRE, is an inseparable part of the renewal and development of NE (National Education), where religion has an important and strategic position. This indicates that the religious subjects need to be included in the curricula of Indonesian state schools and taught to students through similar religion-based teachers. These were in line with the National Education System Law Number 20 of 2003 Article 12 Paragraph 1a. To ensure the accessibility of education, this law has been very effective and efficient in accommodating every child of compulsory school age. This process includes access to proper religious education, which is already adequately positioned and implemented. In Indonesia, the rules of religious education or IRE are different from those reflected in several other countries. For instance, German Islamic Religious Education was very differently regulated, due to being initially introduced as a regular subject in some regions, with other states completely having no regulations [24]. This was in line with the case in International Human Rights Law, where access to education was differently defined based on distinguished learning stages in each country. However, Tomaševski [25] generally emphasized that the state was responsible for ensuring that every education-oriented child had adequate accessibility. In this condition, the state should also uphold the values of equality in educational institutions. This was in line with Benedek [26], where the state was obliged to guarantee equal access to every child without physical, gender, ethnical, or religious discrimination.

According to the NES Law Number 20 of 2003 in Article 12 Paragraph 1a, all students have the right to obtain religious education through the practices adhered to and taught by educators with similar religions. Meanwhile, Minister of Education and Culture Regulation Number 17 of 2017 in Article 24 stated that the number of students in one class was approximately 20–28 for the study groups at the elementary school level. This was slightly different from the Minister of Religion Regulation Number 16 of 2010 in Article 4, where religious education should be provided with 15 students in one class or school. Although the number of students does not meet the quota or is below the minimum limit of 15 people, the provision of religious education is still very possible due to the observation of several alternative/problem-solving methods. However, the regulation had an impact on schools having Muslim students with a small quota. Based on the value of unqualified Islamic educators, Berglund [27] stated that only the IRE teachers in Swedish Muslim schools had the ability to transmit knowledge to the concerned students due to their respective translations, such as the notion of interpretation. This demonstrated the strength possessed by teachers when making educational decisions. In formal education, IRE is a mandatory subject whose systematic and planned learning process is based on the development of students’ Islamic potential. This indicates that IRE helps to prepare students to explore, pursue, believe, and understand Islamic teachings, which is balanced with a tolerant attitude towards the education of other religions. Therefore, national unity is effectively and efficiently realized in religious harmony [28]. Besides the consideration of faith, worship, and morals, IRE also instills and increases confidence by providing Islamic understanding, knowledge, and practices to students to be able to become spiritual individuals [29]. It also ensures the transformation of students into Muslim individuals with continuous national and regional developments [30]. This verifies that institutional religious education plays an important role in realizing the goals of NE (National Education).

So far, several studies have talked about the availability and accessibility of education, but it is entirely different from what the researchers are doing, for example, research conducted [31] on Iran’s response to its obligation to make education available and accessible. His research is based on facts, for instance, increasing literacy rates, progress in literacy has not started to help raise the standards that the state must meet, the state has failed to respect the right to education of its citizens, and so on. His research concludes that education is unavailable or inaccessible to children partly because of poverty, mismanagement of the regime, and lack of competence in managing an oil-rich country. Another obstacle to education is the result of ideological and political tools deliberately aimed at uprooting those who do not conform [3234].

States are obligated to provide education for all under International Human Rights Law. The availability and accessibility of education are two obligations of the state. They should make it universal, accessible, and mandatory, at least for the compulsory education age range [35, 36]. This research is different; anxiety stems from the case where Muslim students in educational institutions organized by Indonesia, especially at the state elementary school level in North Minahasa, did not receive Islamic Religious Education services. The laws in force in Indonesia have guaranteed it. However, the research will be like the expectations of this research in terms of emphasizing the function of the state, which must provide proper educational services to children, especially for children of learning age [3741] conducted in another study. They tried to see how the protection is provided by the Indian Constitution in terms of education for minorities, especially education with the madrasa system for Muslims. It also paints a portrait of the development and contribution of the madrasa system, particularly in the state of West Bengal, paying particular attention to the efforts made by the West Bengal Madrasah Education Council to promote the integration of Muslim students into the National Education System. Their research concludes that such initiatives could inspire other states in India that aim to provide better access to formal education among marginalized groups. The focus of their research is different from this research; they examine the protection provided by the Indian Constitution in terms of education for Muslim minorities, especially education with the madrasa system. Next, look at how the integration of Muslim students through the madrasa system into the National Education System in India. This study focuses on Muslim students who do not receive Islamic Religious Education services at state elementary schools, even though their rights to obtain educational services have been regulated in the National Education System in Indonesia. However, in terms of minority areas, the two have something in common [4244].

Pittin also researched the availability and accessibility of education regarding policies in Nigeria that are expanding its education system. His research departs from the existence of gender and class differences in the education system in Nigeria. Pittin found that women were always represented in lesser numbers than men and tended to be drawn disproportionately from the more privileged elements of society. They refer to ideologies that justify a primary domestic role for women who, in the case of Katsina in Northern Nigeria, come from secular states and religious authorities. Islamic Religious Education lessons. The case is different from the context of the Indonesian National Education System, which is part of the focus of this research. In Indonesia, it is not a matter of gender; men and women have the same rights in receiving education in schools; it is just that the implementation of the education system has not yet been fully implemented. For example, in Islamic Religious Education, not all students in state elementary schools have access to admissions [45, 46].

Referring to the literature review, in the Indonesian context, Islamic Religious Education at the elementary school level must be provided by the state and is the right of every student because it has been regulated in the National Education System Law. Meanwhile, various previous studies that have been mentioned previously escape this focus, and if they are found, they all discuss the context of education outside Indonesia. While each country has a different education system, the problems faced by educational institutions and the people’s access to education in each country are also not the same [47, 48]. This research needs to be carried out and be a differentiator from previous research to fill the gaps in research on the availability and accessibility of education, especially for Muslim students in obtaining Islamic Religious Education services in state elementary schools. It should be noted that Islamic Religious Education is important to be received by every Muslim student because it can improve their understanding in understanding religion correctly, and then their faith in religion can increase. Religious education also influences their procedures for socializing and acting in society. Mastery of religious values can affect the way students practice religion well, not only towards their faith but also towards the faiths of others [49, 50].

3. Method

A qualitative-descriptive method was used to describe existing natural and artificial phenomena based on forms, characteristics, activities, changes, relationships, similarities, and differences. This is because a descriptive experiment is used to analyze and interpret several variables, such as existing conditions or relationships, developing opinions, ongoing processes, and trends, as well as consequences. The experiment was conducted in two institutions in North Minahasa, namely, the Suwaan State and Kawangkoan Presidential-Instruction Elementary Schools, from June to July 2021. These institutions were utilized due to the occurrence of serious cases where Muslim students did not obtain similar religious education services as non-Muslim ones. This was due to the provision of non-Islamic (Christian) religious subjects to them on many occasions. In this condition, a problem was observed in Indonesian Islamic education due to the inconsistent teachings and the applicable legislation. Therefore, the experimental object was the elementary schools, with the subjects being North Minahasa educational policymakers and implementers, namely, the Education Office, Ministry of Religion, principals/teachers, and students. This was conducted through the analyses of observation data, interviews, and documentation, which were used as examination material. Based on this analysis, the data from several informants were obtained from the Head of the North Minahasa Education Office, the Supervisor of IRE Educators at the Ministry of Religion, and the principals, teachers, and students of the Suwaan State and Kawangkoan Islamic Elementary Schools. In this condition, data collection was carried out by quoting, adapting, and analyzing through the interactive analysis of interview information, representative literature, and relevant related reviews to the evaluated problems. The main source of this process was the interview results, which were supported by documents, books, and scientific journal articles, as well as relevant laws and regulations.

To ensure the achievement of appropriate results, the data obtained from the informants were processed based on the utilization of qualitative methods with several analytical techniques. This was subsequently assisted by the acquisition of some relevant literature. In this case, the data from existing informants were deductively processed through general information to obtain specific conclusions using analogy-based reasoning. To express thoughts, ideas, and conclusions, a descriptive method was initially used to present the data related to the evaluated problem. Despite this, the method was still not designed for making generally accepted decisions. Subsequently, various analytical methods were used to solve a problem before the performance of an in-depth examination. Based on the method determined, the steps were initially performed through data reduction, namely, summarizing, main factor selections, and important variable focus, as well as the observation of previous themes and patterns. Furthermore, the data were systematically arranged and grouped to provide a clear description. The second step was based on the presentation of data, for instance, the systematic compilation of information to draft conclusions. This was performed to ease the examination of the specific or overall situations through the display of the results obtained from observations, interviews, and documentation. Meanwhile, the third step was the conclusions or verification, which was carried out after the completion of the data analysis activities.

4. Results and Discussion

4.1. The Position of Islamic Religious Education in the Indonesian Educational System

The NES does not dominate the Indonesian Islamic Religious Education System due to being a human process acting in the logic of thinking as intelligent and virtuous beings through various types, levels, nature, and forms of education. It is also a human process with the ability to completely carry out its main duties and functions as a holder of divine and cultural mandates. In this condition, Indonesia was observed as a Pancasila state, with Effendi [51] showing its existence in a middle path between being religious and secular. From the initial formulation of the Pancasila and Article 29 of the 1945 Constitution Paragraph 1, a unique characteristic was provided based on the country not being a secular and religious state. This guaranteed the freedom of every religious citizen and maintained noble characters based on the values of Pancasila. In this condition, Indonesia essentially and naturally positioned religion as a valued source [52]. The nation’s view of life did not philosophically conflict with Islamic teachings, indicating that IRE should be able to become a Subnational Education System. Since the issuance of the NES Law Number 20 of 2003, this condition was observed as an opportunity and a challenge for IRE systems and institutions to formulate designs and pioneer Islamic education buildings. This law was future-minded and introduced the policy of educational linking and matching. In line with the basic mission of Al-Islam, this future-mindedness was based on Islamization, which indicated the performance of education through Muslim needs and dynamics.

According to the NES Law Number 20 of 2003 in Chapter II Article 1 Paragraph 2, National Education was based on Pancasila and the 1945 Indonesian Constitution responsive to transformational demands, as well as rooted in religious values and national culture. According to the study by Silalahi and Yuwono, this is what states that the religious and cultural values of the nation have underpinned the formation of the 2013 Curriculum (K-13), which emphasizes the development of Pancasila values as core competencies. This indicated that religion was an educational goal and a source of value in the National Education (NE) process. Meanwhile, Article 3 stated that NE functioned to develop capabilities and shape the character. It was also observed as a dignified national civilization, which developed the students’ potential to become democratic and responsible, as well as faithful and fearful to God Almighty, while having noble, healthy, knowledgeable, capable, creative, and independent characters. Education also needs to be justly conducted while upholding religious values, as stated in Law Number 20 of 2003, Article 4 Paragraph 1. This stated that education was democratically, justly, and nondiscriminatorily conducted by upholding human rights, religious and cultural values, and national pluralism. Meanwhile, Article 12 Paragraph 1 stated that all students had the right to obtain religious education according to the practices adopted and taught by similar religion-based educators. This was based on the rightful position of Islamic Religious Education in Indonesia. These confirmed that students had the right to obtain religious education according to their respective practices, which were subsequently taught by teachers or educators with similar religions. It also proved that every school was obliged to provide space for students having different religions without any discriminatory treatment. Therefore, the position of religion and religious education was observed in the 2003 NES Law. This was in line with various previous articles, where religious education was observed as a source of values and NE. In IRE, education had an important role in developing the potential of students towards having religious-spiritual strength, noble character, and Muslim personality.

4.2. Condition of Islamic Religious Education at Elementary School in North Minahasa

North Minahasa is one of the regencies included in the North Sulawesi Province, where the Central Statistics Agency (2018) exhibited the percentage of religious adherents as follows: (a) Islam (14.66%), (b) Protestant (77.40%), (c) Catholic (7.88%), (d) Hinduism (0.01%), (e) Buddhism (0.02%), and (f) Confucianism (0%) [53]. This revealed that Muslims occupied the second-highest position in this area, with 199 basic education institutions observed; specifically, 108 and 91 were public and private schools, respectively [34]. In addition, all these institutions are distributed over 10 subdistricts, as shown in Table 1.

From Table 1, two institutions were observed to have Muslim students without any Islamic Religious Education subjects in the Kalawat Subdistrict, namely, the Suwaan State and the Kawangkoan Presidential-Instruction Elementary Schools. Data of the percentage of students in these institutions based on religion are observed in Tables 2 and 3.

According to Table 2, the Suwaan State Elementary School had 127 students in the 2020/2021 Academic Year, from grades I to VI. This revealed that the percentage value of Christians was higher than that of Muslims, based on the religious practice analysis.

In Table 3, the Kawangkoan Presidential-Instruction Elementary School had 82 students in the 2020/2021 Academic Year, from grades I to VI. This showed that the percentage value of the Christians was higher than the Muslims, as regards religious practice analysis. Despite the small percentage values of Muslims in both institutions, Islamic Religious Education subjects should still be provided to ensure learning equality, especially in the North Minahasa elementary schools.

In this analysis, another observed problem was the absence of Islamic Religious Educators in Suwaan State and Kawangkoan Presidential-Instruction Elementary Schools. This confirmed that all the educators in both institutions were Christians, subsequently worsening the accessibility of Islamic Religious Education for students. The data on both institutions’ educators are shown in Tables 4 and 5.

Based on these results, the IRE services were not realized as stated in the NES Law Number 20 of 2003 in Article 12 Paragraph 1a, where all students had the right to obtain religious education according to the practices adopted and taught by similar religion-based educators. When there is no religious education service according to the adopted religion, the development of students’ knowledge is consequently affected. However, the Islamic Religious Education had certain goals at every educational level, with the elementary school performing the following (1) developing a religious and affectionate sense for students, as well as Allah SWT and His Messenger, (2) training the habituation of students towards a noble character, and (3) familiarizing students to practice worship and be good role models [54, 55].

4.3. Accessibility of Islamic Religious Education for Students in North Minahasa

The accessibility of IRE for Muslim students at the Suwaan State and Kawangkoan Presidential-Instruction Elementary Schools was difficult to achieve, as its realization did not function as stated in the NES Law no. 20 of 2003. This was because students were not granted access to religious education services in both schools, with freedom being provided to externally acquire this learning activity, which was adequately supervised directly by their respective parents. However, the adjustment of teachers’ duties to parents does not always have a good impact on the quality of students and school outcomes. According to Annan [56], value and positive school outcomes were often determined by teacher competence, indicating that the government’s role is needed to procure professional educators in affected schools for institutional quality improvement. In North Minahasa, undervalued primary schools often provided Muslim students with the flexibility to seek alternative learning. This indicated that the students and their parents differently responded to these conditions, as some were involved in home lessons with others not even participating in the non-Muslim (Christian) classes. In the nonparticipatory case, a big problem was subsequently observed in Indonesian religious education. This explained that the achievement of students’ rights did not have an impact on the implementation of institutional religious education, as confirmed by the Government Regulations, Minister of Religion, and other provisions. Meanwhile, the external implementation of these learning activities did not guarantee the expected outcome. This finding is supported by Peshkova when analyzing noninstitutionalized religious education among local women in Uzbekistan. Peshkova concludes that education that is not institutionalized or students do not take education through formal education in schools has an impact on students’ inability to think critically about their lives and social environment. Moreover, noninstitutionalized religious education does not have one predetermined outcome. This verified that an imbalance was observed between the ideals of religious education policies and the ongoing reality.

As an educational service, schools served as a place where educational activities were performed. In this condition, education policy is needed for human development, as Bareke et al. [57] stated that it had a positive and significant effect in the short and long term. This shows that schools are obliged to provide evenly distributed educational services to all members, especially religious knowledge. Despite this, some public schools were still observed not to provide these services to Muslim students. For example, the Suwaan State Elementary School did not have Islamic educators due to possessing a few Muslim students, according to Bosveld Cerletty Supit. Regarding the number of the Islamic students in this institution, Christi Budiman stated that a total of 11 students were comprehensively observed, for instance, 0, 4, 1, 1, 2, and 3 for grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, respectively. This was in line with the Kawangkoan Presidential-Instruction Elementary School, where no educators and IRE subjects were observed irrespective of the Muslim students’ presence. According to Femmy Kamu, no Islamic educators have been observed in this institution since the beginning of 1975 till now (46 years). This was in line with Yubelina Dara, who stated that no Islamic educator had ever observed Kawangkoan Presidential-Instruction Elementary School since its establishment till the present, although it had Muslim students. For the number of these students in the 2020/2021 Academic Year, only 11 individuals were left from a possible 15, that is, 0, 1, 3, 2, 4, and 1 for grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, respectively. This indicated that the number of Muslim students in this institution was initially more than that at the Suwaan State Elementary School. However, an even value was observed when some students decided to change schools, with the migration certainly having an impact on the initial value. Based on Femmy Kamu (the school principal), the standard for carrying out religious education services for Muslim students showed that educators need to have a linear Bachelor (S1) qualification, which enables them to teach from grades 1 to 6. Therefore, the students’ values became a benchmark for schools to provide Islamic Religious Education educators. The demand that teachers must meet the qualifications to teach has indeed become a standard in the administration of education in every country. For example, the finding of a study conducted by Memon in North America that teacher qualifications depart from the underlying result of many school administrators is that state or ministry certified teachers who are Muslim will know how to teach “Islamic.” This verified that the school needs to equally provide the best services, including religious education, for all students, irrespective of their denominations [5861].

Regarding the religious educator recruitment, Femmy Kamu stated that the process was under the authority of the Education Office and the BKPP (Personnel, Education, and Training Agency). Meanwhile, the school was only ready for acceptance based on the availability of a vacancy. This revealed that the institution did not presently have an Islamic Religious Educator, although an application had been submitted to the Education Office with no response [44]. According to Olfy Kalengkongan, schools were provided with Islamic Religious Educators based on the number of students, with no certain standards observed. This was one of the considerations from the center regarding the provision of quotas for certain schools. It was also more directed to the schools in dire need of educators, based on the observation of the existing study groups [62, 63]. This was in line with the Regulation of the Minister of Education and Culture Number 17/2017 in Article 24, where the number of elementary school students in one class should be 20–28. The regulation was slightly different from the Minister of Religion Regulation Number 16 of 2010. According to Ramla Kolondam, schools were also with Islamic Religious Educators based on the condition of students, where a minimum ratio of 15 people was stipulated. This proved that schools need to compulsorily hold Islamic Religious Educators when a quota had not been obtained in the selection of CPNS (Prospective Civil Servants) and P3K (Government Employees with Work Agreements). However, the institutions should be provided with certified Islamic teachers when the students’ ratio is below 15. In the Minister of Religion Regulation Number 16 of 2010 in Article 4, religious education educators should be provided based on the availability of 15 students in one class or school. Despite this, several difficulties were still observed, as Ramla Kolondam stated that some school principals were unwilling to work together towards goal achievement. This indicated that several factors caused the difficulties of students’ IRE accessibility, including (1) the insufficient quota of Muslim students, (2) the lack of attention from the school, and (3) the weak control and government role as policymakers and makers. Therefore, cooperation and coordination from various related parties were very necessary between schools and education offices, as well as the local and central governments.

5. Conclusions

The availability and accessibility of North Minahasa IRE were difficult to achieve in several institutions, especially at the Suwaan State and the Kawangkoan Presidential-Instruction Elementary Schools. Although both schools had Muslim students, they still did not provide services for IRE subjects, including Islamic Religious Educators. In the NES (National Education System), the position of this subject was regulated in Law Number 20 of 2003 in Article 12 Paragraph 1, where all students had the right to obtain religious education according to the religion adopted and taught by educators. At the elementary school level, the number of students in one class needs to be between 20 and 28, as stipulated in the Regulation of the Minister of Education and Culture Number 17 of 2017 in Article 24. Meanwhile, the Regulation of the Minister of Religion Number 16 of 2010 in Article 4 stated that religious education should be provided based on a minimum of 15 people in one class or school. This policy had an impact on a few Muslim students due to not meeting the requirements for Islamic Religious Education subjects. In Suwaan State and Kawangkoan Presidential-Instruction Elementary Schools, the main factor affecting the availability and accessibility of IRE was the number of students, where an even value of 11 people was observed. Despite these results, the Minister of Religion Regulation Number 16 of 2010 in Article 4 stated that the school still cooperated with other religious institutions in the surrounding area when students were under 15, based on filling the position of the Islamic educators in schools. Another solution was also observed for certified educators with fewer teaching hours, regarding the addition of more school periods in different vacant locations. However, another problem was observed based on the ignorance of educational policymakers, including school principals. In this condition, leadership, initiative, and awareness are essentially needed.

This analytical report contributed to the advancement of religious education in Indonesia, especially IRE, with the expectation of providing significant results. The second objective was also based on bridging the Education Office (Central Government) and the Ministry of Religion (Regional Government) for the procurement and achievement of IRE subjects and Islamic religious teachers without requiring the number of Muslim students. Therefore, subsequent studies should focus on regional religious education, especially the IRE in non-Muslim schools. This report also suggests that the Central Government, Ministry of Religion, and the relevant Education Office need to consider the equal rights of Muslim students towards religious learning accessibility. In addition, school principals should consider more initiatives and be highly proactive in the provision of Islamic educators [6466].

Every Muslim student needs an understanding of Islamic Religious Education held at the elementary school level. This research has implications for several things in educational institutions in Indonesia, especially the implementation of the National Education System, which relates to the availability, accessibility, and religious education services for students at the state elementary school (SDN) level according to their respective religions and beliefs. First, education providers must comply with the National Education System Law and ensure that all students receive educational services, including appropriate Islamic Religious Education services. Second, every state elementary school, especially those with Muslim students, must have and include Islamic Religious Education subjects in the education curriculum at school. Third, every state elementary school with Muslim students who do not have PAI teachers is to propose teacher procurement through the principal to the Education Office and the Ministry of Religion in charge of Islamic Religious Education and then to the Central Government. Fourth, the government as the policyholder needs to evaluate every regulation and policy in education, including Islamic Religious Education, issued to ensure that its implementation runs well and evenly.

Data Availability

The study data are available from the relevant authors upon reasonable request.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.