The nature of social capital developed in traditional Islamic boarding schools (dayah) and its effect on the employment of graduates from rural communities in Aceh, Indonesia

  • Nanda Riska

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study explores the nature of social capital developed in traditional Islamic boarding schools (dayah) in rural Aceh, Indonesia, and examines the effect this has on helping graduates find employment. Despite a long history of providing traditional religious education in rural Aceh, dayah are not recognised by the government as formal education providers. The dayah curriculum focuses on teaching classical Islamic texts. The boarding school nature of dayah requires students to study and live in a lifestyle that adheres to the principles and practices of Islam. The exclusive focus on religion and lack of formal education in subjects, for example, Science and Mathematics, has led to criticisms. These include a concern about dayah student employment following their studies in traditional dayah. Such criticisms were the impetus for this study. This research study brings together literature about the use of social capital and its relation to employment and previous studies of traditional dayah that infer a form of social capital develops through dayah education. The study is the first of its type to explore the nature of social capital based on faith developed in dayah. In addition, it investigates how this social capital is developed and used by students, as graduates, to access information and gain employment. A qualitative approach to data collection and analysis is used. The primary method of data collection was semi-structured, in-depth interviews. This method provided opportunities for the 22 dayah graduates (referred to as participants in the study),to share and discuss their experiences of dayah education, its contributions and limitations to their life, and work, after graduation. Interviews were conducted in Acehnese and Indonesian by the Researcher, transcribed and returned to participants for member-checking (Lincoln & Guba,1985). Once checked for accuracy and content, the transcripts were translated into English for analysis. The English translation was verified by independent Acehnese – English speaking academics. Nvivo 10 software was used to help code data. Major findings show ‘social capital based on faith’ developed in dayah through social relationships and the practice of a shared faith. The social relationships developed were with fellow students, the dayah leader (teungku), with teachers ,and with people in the local community. Social capital based on faith developed in dayah was found to be instrumental in helping participants find and gain employment. Individuals within the social networks were motivated to help others not for personal gain, rather because it is what God expects of them. This is a practice deeply set in their Islamic belief. Their motivation differs from researchers’ general understanding and use of the term social capital. These findings challenge and refute criticisms that dayah education leads to unemployment. All participants were found to be actively employed in different occupations; however, they were low paying in nature. The study argues that it is not the use of social capital based on faith that leads participants to lower paid employment, rather low-income jobs dominate the job market in rural areas of Aceh. The findings also suggest that better and higher paid jobs can be found but not accessed because, according to participants, their education in dayah is not formally recognised by the government and a certification of educational achievement is not provided. All participants were found to be actively involved in roles of a religious nature in their local communities. Following Islamic belief, none expected and most received no pay for such work. The continuing voluntary commitment to their communities in these roles and others was seen as an extension of the religious devotion developed in and through dayah, to their community. This study contributes new understanding about the nature of social capital developed in dayah, and how it is used to gain employment. The study contributes to the academic discourse on social capital, and its development and impact in rural communities. Specifically, it deepens our understanding of the education and the role of faith as a determinant in seeking employment and community development.
    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJackie Walkington (Supervisor) & Peter Bodycott (Supervisor)

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