20 September 2007

Islamic School For Kent

Jamia Mosque in Gillingham [Credit: BBC]Tonight's local news that Muslim leaders are calling for a state-funded Islamic school to be set up in Kent saw me turning to Martin Parsons article in this month's edition of The Difference, examining how Western educational values unwittingly contributed to the rise of Islamism.

The BBC quotes a spokesman for Kent Muslim Welfare Association, Anwar Khan, who runs Islamic classes outside school hours for about 100 children at Jamia Mosque in Gillingham, as complaining, "We run our schools for 10 hours a week - two hours a day, for children across the ages and from different schools. It is an extra burden for them, coming back from school, doing some work at home and having their evening meal and then coming to the mosque."

Parsons concludes his article by considering this very issue of demands from Islamic organisations for state funding of Muslim schools. Let us know what you think:

When Labour came to power in 1997 the government began to approve the creation of Muslim schools in a similar manner to voluntary aided Anglican and Catholic schools. However, the question which needs to be answered is whether these schools are inspired by a philosophy that is compatible with western democracy and seeks to promote tolerance and freedom, or Islamism, which combines western education's critical thinking with Islamic political values?

Labour clearly needs the votes of Islamic groups but doesn’t appear to want all of their agenda. It has been willing to grant some requests – such as government subsidies for courses in Islamic theology and Arabic and considering approval for a Muslim City Academy in Bradford – but has now made a significant u-turn on faith schools. First came an announcement that all faith schools would have to allocate 25% of their places to pupils from another faith or no faith, a proposal that was finally dropped after a concerted campaign by the Catholic Church. Then the government legally required all schools to promote “community cohesion”, with Jim Knight, the Schools Minister, suggesting faith schools should twin with those of other faiths.

Many have suggested that this attempt to create “community cohesion” by targeting all faith schools instead of just Muslim ones is driven by Labour’s desire to hold onto its share of the Muslim vote, which slumped in the 2005 general election. However, there is also a marked secularising tendency in liberal-left politics, coupled with an ideological assumption that the state, not churches or parents, should educate children. The recent vote of the left-leaning teaching union, the NASUWT, to oppose new faith schools well illustrates these ideological assumptions.

Yet whoever heard of voluntary-aided Church of England or Catholic schools in mainland Britain creating problems of community cohesion? They don’t for two reasons. First, because as part of the majority community – 72% according to the last census – voluntary-aided Christian schools by definition cannot create an educational ghetto. Secondly, unlike the Islamic scriptures, the Bible does not set out a distinct political system, still less require one to be imposed on non-believers. Tragically, this is a nettle that the Labour government and other members of the liberal left seem unable or unwilling to grasp.
For more on this issue, also see The Rise Of Islam.


Anonymous said...

I wonder why children and young people whose 'second language' is English do not succedd in our schools?

I used to teach in a large comprehensive in David Willett's constituency. One of the lads in my tutor group was of Indian background (his Father ran one of the two Indian Restaurants in the town). He was not the brightest of our pupils, found it difficult to master French (and other subjects) to the satisfaction of the class teacher, and spoke with weak English - which was not spoken at home nor very much in the restaurant where he worked in the evenings and weekends.

After some months while interviewing pupils on a one-to-one basis it transpired that two or three times a week this lad taught not one but three different language classes to other Indian children in the mosque in Portsmouth.

So who was 'thick'?

He had also been taught manners and thanked me - and other teachers - at the end of every week for teaching him. His classmates could not hit the playground fast enough and certainly thought that as it was my paid job to teach them, I did not need any verbal thanks.

Sometimes, Moslems have a lot to teach us Christian-based English.

G in Oxfordshire

IftikharA said...

Muslim Schools

London School of Islamics is an educational Trust. Its aim is to make
British public, institutions and media aware of the needs and demands of the
Muslim community in the field of education and possible solutions.

Slough Islamic school Trust Slough had a seminar on Muslim
education and schools in Thames Valley Atheltic Centre. The seminar was
addressed by the education spokesman of MCB. I could not attend the seminar
but I believe lot of Muslims from Slough and surrounding areas must have
attended. Very soon, the Muslims of Slough will have a state funded Muslim
school but there is a need for more schools. A day will come when all Muslim
children will attend state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim
teachers as role model.

Muslim schools are not only faith schools but they are more or less
bilingual schools.

Bilingual Muslim children need to learn standard English to follow the
National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve
humanity. They need to be well versed in Arabic to recite and understand the
Holy Quran. They need to be well versed in Urdu and other community
languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of
their literature and poetry.

Bilingualism is an asset but the British schooling regards it as a
problem. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not
want to become notoriously monolingual Brit. Pakistan is only seven hours
from London and majority of British Muslims are from Pakistan.

More than third of British Muslim have no qualifications. British school
system has been failing large number of Muslims children for the last 60
years. Muslim scholars see the pursuit of knowledge as a duty, with the
Quran containing several verses to the rewards of learning. 33% of British
Muslims of working age have no qualifications and Muslims are also the least
likely to have degrees or equivalent qualifications. Most of estimated
500,000 Muslim school-aged pupils in England and Wales are educated in the
state system with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. Majority of them are
underachievers because they are at a wrong place at a wrong time.

Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual
Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. There is no place for a
non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. As far as higher education
is concerned, Muslim students can be educated with others. Let Muslim
community educate its own children so that they can develop their own
Islamic, cultural and linguistic identities and become usefull members of
the British society rather than becoming a buden.

We are living in an English speaking country and English is an
international language, therefore, we want our children to learn and be well
versed in standard English and at the same time well versed in Arabic, Urdu
and other community languages. Is there anything wrong with this approach?

It is not only the Muslim community who would like to send their children to
Muslim school. Sikh and Hindu communities have started setting up their
schools. Last week. British Black Community has planned the first all black
school with Black teachers in Birmingham.

Scotland's first state funded Muslim school could get the go-ahead within
months after First Munister Alex Salmond declared he was sympathetic towards
the needs and demands of the Muslim community.
Iftikhar Ahmad
London School of Islamics Trust