ISTANBUL, TURKI - A number of world delegates were amazed by the pesantren education system in Indonesia that could combine Islamic religious education with economic independence and community empowerment (community building).
During this time the Islamic world considers Islamic educational institutions everywhere do not have the function of community economic empowerment.
This was revealed from their many visits to the exhibition booths of five pesantren participating in the OPOP (One Pesantren One Product) program at the World Halal Summit (WHS) event in Istanbul Turkey, November 28-December 1, 2019.
The WHS Forum is a world-class conference for global halal industry players that takes place every year.
In this WHS, the West Java Provincial Government (Pemdaprov) through the West Java Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Cooperative Office (UMKM) brought five OPOP participating pesantren cooperatives (koppontren).
The five pesantren are the Daarut Tauhiid (DT) Koppontren of the City of Bandung, Al-Ashiriyyah Nurul Iman Prosperous Koppontren of the Bogor Regency, the Al-Ittifaq Koppontren of the Bandung Regency, the Koppontren Husnul Khotimah of the Kuningan Regency, and the Fathiyya Al-Idrisiyyah Kopontren of the Regency of Tasikmalaya.
Each koppontren carries superior products consisting of agricultural products, fashion, fisheries, health, crafts, processed food and beverage products, as well as halal tour and travel services. The products offered by these five counterparts attract the attention of potential buyers.
But what was unexpected by the West Java delegation was that there were many questions and amazement of the world to the five pesantren cooperative cooperatives. The question posed is how is it possible for a boarding school to play an active role in community development.
The admiration came from the delegations from Britain, Senegal, Sudan, Palestine, Oman, Pakistan and others. All who attended the World Halal Summit expo were big companies. However, the West Java booth contained productive pesantren.
"This is interesting, why those who do business are not business entities, but educational institutions. How can pesantren in Indonesia not only function as a religious entity, but also become a business entity or religious social entity, "said Chairperson of the United Kingdom Mosque Council Necdet Kolca, in English.
Kolca said the number of Muslims in the UK was increasing. He promised to preach this unique pesantren education system. The British Mosque Council will send Muslim children on holiday next year to West Java Islamic boarding schools to study Islam who care about the economic development of the ummah. These children will study agriculture at the Al-Ittifaq Islamic Boarding School, Ciwidey Bandung.
Kolca said, so far many of the world's Islamic charitable organizations have contributed to religious education institutions in African countries. Through this OPOP he got unique information about pesantren in Indonesia.
"I will tell European donors to divert some of their donations to Islamic boarding schools in Indonesia," he said.
Hiba Al-Qadi, Director of Contracts and Tenders at Dallah Group Companies, also expressed his appreciation. He was amazed why Daarut Tauhid as an educational institution could also expand into the business sector. He could not understand why DT could build mosques in Gaza, Perth and New Zealand.
So positive was the welcome of the foreign delegation that a MoU was signed between the Chair of the Senegalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ali Diou and Umi Waheeda, the head of the Al Ashiriyyah Nurul Iman Koppontren.
This cooperation in addition to rice business purchase transactions, also includes cooperation in the management of Islamic boarding schools based on quality education systems based on social entrepreneurship.
"They are interested in our education system. That's why I think Indonesian boarding schools should sell social entrepreneurship-based methods and education systems. We also show that our pesantren are not slum pesantren like in other countries, "said Umi.
Other countries such as Palestine, Kenya and India also asked for input to West Java about the pesantren education system. Even India has asked Umi Waheed to be a speaker at the Indian Halal Forum in Ahmaderabad in the near future.
"We want the pesantren to be independent, not dependent on donations. I will talk about pesantren as an entrepreneur, "said Umi.
Nurul Iman is an Islamic boarding school with a total of 15,000 santri consisting of PAUD, to tertiary institutions. The students are free of education costs, so Nurul Iman must independently fund its activities.
At this exhibition, the five pesantren managed to get a lot of business commitments. Potential buyers interested in agricultural products, fashion, and halal tourism services.
Al Ittifaq succeeded in attracting companies to tie up business commitments, among others, with the Vizyon Team who needed fruits, vegetables, ginger, and galangal. While Eruope Vital would buy ginger, galangal and cinnamon. African Tide needs turmeric and ginger. Qatar Empire asked for coffee. Turkish companies need vegetables and medicinal plants.
On this occasion, the world IT consulting company Archytas Blockchain Consultancy, was also interested in the uniqueness of Indonesian boarding schools. They encourage pesantren OPOP to transform digital using the blockchain method.
"Now we are encouraged to learn what blockchain is and how to use it in our business," said Al-Ittifaq CEO Setia Irawan.
Meanwhile, international tour and travel companies asked Pesantren Daarut Tauhiid (DT) Bandung to become halal tourism partners in Indonesia. For this reason, they asked DT to provide information on attractive tourist destinations for Middle Eastern tourists.
Travel companies that invite cooperation include Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bulgaria and others. Contract Manager and Tender of Dallah Group Jordan, Hiba Al-Qadi said, for prospective Middle Eastern tourists information on halal tourism in Indonesia is very minimal. So far they only know halal tourism from Malaysia.
"They don't know about tourism and halal tourism in Indonesia yet. Many tourists from the Middle East fled to Malaysia. There is not much information about Indonesia yet, "Al Qadi said.
According to the plan, Dallah Group Companies will come to DT to study halal tourism cooperation. They will bring Middle Eastern tourists to Indonesia.
"We are ready to become partners, because so far DT has also developed travel companies, and developed halal tourism. DT can offer exotic tours to Komodo Island, Raja Ampat and others, "said Tommy Satyagraha from DT.
Meanwhile, the pesantren Husnul Khotimah received an order of one bamboo basket for shipping to Bosnia. The leader of the Bosnian Tour and Travel Mirza Omerhodzic said, now Europeans have turned to the issue of go-green, including in terms of tourism. As a halal tour manager, he is required to provide environmentally friendly services.
"I see this bamboo basket as a good container for souvenirs. We need wedding favors, because we also have a wedding organizer. The material is unique and of course environmentally friendly, "he said.
He hopes Husnul Khotimah can provide this bamboo basket, but he requires that there is no water content so that it gets to its destination not to be moldy and not rotten.
Husnul Khotimah Representative Didin Mulyanto welcomed this offer. Pesantren Husnul Khotimah can mobilize its pesantren network to fulfill this order.
"For us, fulfilling this order is not difficult. Because all this time we also produce bamboo handicrafts with dried bamboo standards, "he said.
This pesantren has also accepted the offer of student scholarships to the University of Africa in Sudan. The representative of the university, Syeich Yasir Yusuf, specifically came to the West Java booth and offered this scholarship. This December, Sheikh Yasir will come to Indonesia.
"There will be a MoU Husnul Khotimah with the University of Africa. Santri have a lot here, only through the independent route. There are already 20 students here. Now they provide a quota of 10 scholarships (full scholarship), "said Ustad Mutamad, from Husnul Khotimah.
Pesantren Idrisiyyah offers vaname shrimp products. Malaysian GISB company wants to explore purchasing Vaname shrimp. GISB requires one container shrimp supply per month. As a follow up, the Al-Idrisiyyah Koppontren will hold talks with the Indonesian representative GISB in Sentul, Bogor Regency.
Al Idrisiyyah also received a commitment to procure pandanus bag crafts from Sonaydemirci. The company wants to become a reseller of bamboo handicraft products and tote bags for Europe. In addition, the pesantren also received orders for bamboo coffee spoons from a Turkish dish washing machine company, because cafes in Europe have started to leave plastic bags.
According to Al Idrisiyyah Koppontren representative Ega Abdulgafur, his pesantren is ready to fulfill this coffee spoon order, because so far the pesantren also produces bamboo handicrafts, so the bamboo spoon material utilizes the rest of the craft material.
Meanwhile, besides accepting an offer to consult with the pesantren independence education system, Koppontren Nurul Iman also received orders for rice and corn-mixed rice. The number of orders is two containers.
Nurul Iman also received coffee orders from several companies, but this pesantren was asked to send various coffee samples, because in Indonesia there are many types and variations of coffee.
This pesantren also exhibits soap products. However, there are some parties who want to buy material the soap is the activated carbon. This ingredient is to soften the skin.
Jabar Yuningsih DPRD member who joined the group to Turkey welcomed the OPOP boarding school exhibition at the World Halal Summit. He hopes that OPOP can be continuous and more pesantren will appear at world-class exhibitions and market their products abroad.
The politician from the National Awakening Party (PKB) said that OPOP assistance was far better than ordinary grants. Because with this OPOP assistance is more targeted, there is assistance and there are other targets, such as economic revival and networking.
Yuningsih hopes that the Indonesian pesantren system which also functions as a development agent in its region, can become a model for other pesantren.
He also hopes that each pesantren will show the uniqueness of its products. "We at the DPRD will support this OPOP program, because I see positive aspects for strengthening pesantren going forward," he said.
Meanwhile, Head of the West Java Cooperative and Small Business Agency Kusmana Hartadji said he felt proud that several boarding schools had superior products and penetrated the world market. West Java has 88 pesantren that are considered superior. Five pesantren which exhibited in Turkey were role models that were proposed by the West Java Provincial Government to the international world and received a warm reception.
"I saw firsthand the enthusiasm of foreign markets with these pesantren in this World Summit. It is proven by the existence of MoUs for the purchase of our pesantren products, "he said.
He said, to meet the demands of this world market, all pesantren must work together, because it is not possible for many orders to be filled with only one pesantren. In addition, the follow up of this international exhibition needs to involve other agencies outside the Office of Cooperatives and Small Business.
"We must involve other agencies and export consultants in order to respond quickly to business commitments," he said.
In the future, Kusmana hopes that more than five pesantren will participate. But the pesantren must have the ability to communicate, understand the trading system.
"In an exhibition like this, the obstacle is language. The companies that deal with our pesantren come from countries that speak French, Africa, Arabic, Russia and others, "he said.
The KUK Office also focuses on training to deal with exporters only. In addition to export procedures, there is also negotiation training.
"During this time, outsiders consider us to be a market, one day we must become producers," he said.