» Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Muslim Schools

Asked for a reaction to today’s report urging for more Muslim state schools to be set up, the PMS said that in the Government’s view, these issues should be dealt with at a local level so that local circumstances could be taken into account before a decision was made. The Government was not actively involved in a campaign for more faith schools, but continued to support those that already existed. Asked if the Government would provide funds for Muslim schools, the PMS repeated that decisions as to whether faith schools should be opened had to be made at a local level by the School Organisation Committee for that particular area. Asked if the Government agreed with the report’s conclusion about the problems encountered by Muslim schoolchildren, the PMS said that the Government was committed to raising standards throughout the school system, regardless of pupils’ religious or social background. We wanted schools and teachers to respect the different faiths and customs of their pupils.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. A good education system should get people to ask questions and show them how to find answers. Religeons give people answers and then tell people not to question them.

    If people want to indoctrinate their children in any belief system or religeon then they are entitled to do that at home. The state should not in any way be involved in supporting or promoting ‘schools’ that are run by, or subject to, a religeous organisation.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 9 Jun 2004 on 8:42 pm | Link
  2. This is pretty much taken as read in the U.S., where religion and state are separated by constitutional decree; it’s also the assumption in France, where religion is expressly prohibited in the affairs of state.

    I don’t see any issue with that. And in that light, CoE should be separated entirely from state, cut loose, and all funding by state of religion, by any means, should come to an immediate, or at the very least rapid, end.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 10 Jun 2004 on 2:47 pm | Link
  3. I agree that religion should be carefully controlled in the School environment.
    It does however extend beyond the polorised positions of Science vs Religion.
    The question "Should we ban the teaching of ‘faith’ in schools?" results in either the inclusion of religion & evolution [Darwinism] or their exclusion.
    Generally science produces theories and can demonstrate ‘facts’ however, the amount of ‘faith’ required to interpret Darwin’s theory of evolution as ‘fact’ is at least equal to that required to be accepted as an adherent of a religion.
    All schools that teach A ‘faith’ could be excluded from government funding and be left to sink or swim but to be fair that would eliminate the understanding of the origins of the species from state run schools and that would be a bad move.
    Better to let parents choose to send their children to a state school that teaches a full curriculum of ‘faith’, or, to an independent that majors on their preferred ‘faith’.
    I suppose that the underlying problem is that to teach enough about ‘faith’, religion, and science for somebody of school age to appreciate the differences and have a good grasp of the history and bias present in all the facets, would require teachers who knew the subject and funding beyond that which the government would give.
    The result is ‘squeaky wheel’ government (its the squeaky wheel that gets the oil) – aka lobbying – aka bunging money.

    Comment by Roger Huffadine — 11 Jun 2004 on 10:20 am | Link
  4. "the amount of ‘faith’ required to interpret Darwin’s theory of evolution as ‘fact’ is at least equal to that required to be accepted as an adherent of a religion."

    The only other person I have heard say anything like that is Phoebe off Friends. You’re in good company there Roger.

    Comment by lodjer — 11 Jun 2004 on 11:57 am | Link
  5. The overwhelming majority of scientists don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution – mainly because its over a hundred years old and we’ve gathered a lot more evidence since then to produce more accurate theories of evolution. Please note that the key word here is theory i.e. it is still open to question.

    Roger seems to have missed my the point of my objection to religeous schools. I object to education being run by people with closed minds. I would object to someone caliming that all science is beyond doubt in the same way that I would object to someone claiming that the existence of a god was beyond doubt. Education is about asking questions and looking for answers.

    I have no objection to, and would actively support, children being taught about religeons and different belief systems. It is a useful for people to learn how to question their own beliefs and understand other people’s viewpoints. My objections start when children are taught in schools that one way of thinking is right and all others are wrong.

    Any decent parent will want to bring up their children with an understanding of ‘right and wrong’ and this is bound to be based on the parent’s own beliefs. There is nothing wrong with that but it should be left to the parents and does not belong in a state funded education system.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 11 Jun 2004 on 1:56 pm | Link
  6. I disagree that Darwins theory is now widely disbelieved – although you are quite right that much new evidence has been uncovered.

    I think the process has not been one of rejection or substitution, but revision. Darwins theory had gaps, and some errors. But evolution itself is, I would say, not a theory. There are theories of evolution, but that is different.

    Comment by lodjer — 11 Jun 2004 on 2:49 pm | Link
  7. "The overwhelming majority of scientists don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution"…

    (sidenote: Differences of opinion over ‘punctuated equilibrium’ and other various theories on Darwin’s basic premise don’t actually diverge from the original theory in any fundamental way. People who understand the basic premises behind Darwin’s original theory are conversant with 99% of the fundamentals of all of the modern fragments of those theories.)

    And the whole point about scientific theory, including that bizarre word "laws" of physics and other branches of science, is that they never cease to be open to question, nor are they ever assumed to be 100% true.

    That’s still a far cry from teaching that some old man named Yahweh got lost in the woods, fell over, and blew on some mud, and out came Neandertal, who promptly clubbed him over the head.

    To pretend that there’s no difference between the scientific method and gospel is more than just a little short-sighted, it’s practically propaganda; but that’s beside the point:

    Teaching aspects of individual religions, outside of comparative analysis and the study thereof, has no place in state-funded education.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 11 Jun 2004 on 2:55 pm | Link
  8. *applause*

    Comment by lodjer — 11 Jun 2004 on 4:29 pm | Link
  9. "And in that light, CoE should be separated entirely from state, cut loose, and all funding by state of religion, by any means, should come to an immediate, or at the very least rapid, end"…

    I’m not for this (disestablishment). I’m not relgious, and I don’t think the State should fund relgion. But Establishment isn’t a good deal for the CoE. It was never a deal to give the church influence over the state, but rather to give the state control of the church. No relgion would willingly make such a deal on anything approaching equal terms.

    There are billions of pounds of church assets which are owned by the public. The public has rights in law – that don’t apply to other religions – because of this (such as to marry in your parish church, regardless any faith you do or don’t have). I don’t think this should be abandoned for nothing. It’d be like privatisation, except you’d be giving it away for nothing, as opposed to selling it…

    Comment by square peg — 11 Jun 2004 on 6:37 pm | Link
  10. A state with control over a church is the same entanglement as the church with control over the state.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and be pretty controversial: Religion is about faith, and about the acceptance and trust that is associated with that faith. Any government with control or influence over trusted, powerful people within a church have control and influence over someone whom, by their very nature, has the ability to influence people in a way that no-one else can:

    A government with control over the church can control what you have faith in; faith, that glorious, unquestioning state that requires no evidence, or proof.

    Throughout our history, people have been manipulated by individuals who use the faith of people as a way to push their agenda; and a government cannot be trusted with that power. No government has the right to use faith as a political tool, they cannot be allowed to do so. You can take a quick look around the planet at just how much goes wrong when church and state become too co-mingled; it throws off the whole balance and purpose behind democracy.

    Just as a government cannot be allowed to legally kill its own citizens, because they cannot be trusted to use that power only in ‘just’ circumstances, so too can they not be trusted with the one power that gives it absolute control over the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of millions of its’ people.

    We’ll all sit and say how important a "free press" is – because we’re all willing to accept that the media happily pushes opinions down our throat, and that while you can’t tell a book from its cover, you can gain insight into an individuals’ opinions through the media they absorb their news through. We see a free press as a cornerstone of democratic societies.

    And yet, there’s another mechanism that’s responsible for forming, shaping, and guiding public opinion in the world, and it’s far older than the media – and unlike the media, where people have developed a keen nose for BS, religion is still very much trusted territory; people believe in their faith, and in their religious leaders, and trust them – that trust must not be abused through political control, as it’s already incredibly fragile.

    Religion cannot be trusted when it has control over politics; politics cannot be trusted when it has control over religion. It endangers our very democracy; not in its abuse, but in its potential thereof. Because by the time it’s being abused, there won’t be people to make the comments I’m making now, and public opinion will have already turned against individuals who dare utter the name of Jehovah in the same sentence as good old fashioned brainwashing.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 12 Jun 2004 on 10:55 pm | Link
  11. As for the churches… They’re already tax-exempt organisations with more special circumstances in the legal books than you can shake a stick at. You, the taxpayer, have spent far more than the pittance of the cost of the land and assets owned by the COE over the last century’s tax avoidance alone.

    Give them the land and assets, and then immediately revoke their tax-exempt status.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 12 Jun 2004 on 10:57 pm | Link
  12. And while I’m at it: It’s one thing to ask a churchgoer to tithe; it’s another thing to make us all do so by granting those tax exemptions in the first place.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 12 Jun 2004 on 10:58 pm | Link
  13. Established 1981
    London School of Islamics
    An Educational Trust
    63 Margery Park Road London E7 9LD
    Email: info@londonschoolofislamics.org.uk
    Tel/Fax: 0208 555 2733 / 07817 112 667

    Bilingual Education

    Bilingual projects in schools will receive Government funding to boost learning of children who are not native Britis. Twenty-one LEAs are chosen to take part in the bilingual pilot schemes. Newham and Tower hamlets with highest number of bilingual children are going to be targeted seriously to raise the standard of education because they are at the bottom of the educational league table.

    Bilingual education should have been the part and parcel of British education system 50 years ago when bilingual children started attending state schools but neither LEAs nor native teachers recognize bilingualism. This can have a very negative effect on their cognitive, emotional and social development. Muslim children suffer more than others. Supporters of bilingual teaching have long argued that it has wide benefits such as improving skills in dealing with people from other cultures. When pupils have to conceptualise and grasp issues in a foreign language as well as in their mother tongue, it will help develop an ability to understand complex and multifactual relationships between various themes.

    According to recent figures, the highest number of Pakistani pupils is in primary schools. They come to schools with multiple languages. They are forced to learn English while their mother tongues are ignored. In my opinion teaching English is cultural imperialism in action. In the evening and at weekend they attend Masajid where they are exposed to Arabic and Urdu languages. By the time they are seven they will be forced to learn one of the European languages. On the other hand native children come to schools where they find positive co-relation between school and home. By the time they are seven, will be exposed to the teaching of a European language while Muslim pupils right from Nursery level are bombarded with variety of different languages. They become jack of languages but master of none and there is a possibility that a minority develops negative attitudes towards languages.

    Bilingual education is not going to help Muslim children to raise their standard of education because native teachers are not suitable and the management of LEAs is in the hands of those who not fit for such adventures. Diversity is not a problem but rather strength. Specialist schools, city academies and extra funding are not going to help Muslim children. Master classes for most gifted pupils have failed to ensure enough pupils from minority groups. Millions of pounds spent on booster classes for 11-years-old have made little difference to primary standard. Numerous Whitehall initiatives had failed to tackle growing inequalities. Schools in some of the most deprived urban areas of England are still struggling to raise standards despite billions of pounds of extra government funding. Inner cities secondaries are falling even further behind affluent schools in the suburbs. Achievement in deprived areas has not risen sufficiently in the past decade.

    According to Tim Bridghouse, state education in London is in crises. The reason is that the needs and demands of the bilingual pupils have always been neglected. The number of Newham pupils permanently excluded from their schools for unacceptable behavior increased again in the last academic year. The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry identified institutional racism as a major factor disadvantaging minority ethnic groups. One of the deepest expressions of institutional racism affecting immigrant communities, and one that has been long documented, is he unequal treatment of their children by the education system. They are motivated, but knocked back by their experiences of the school system. They are often treated more harshly and viewed with lower teachers expectations on the basis of teachers\x92 assumptions about their motivation and ability. Liz Brooker of Institute of Education found evidence of institutional racism from the day children started schools. State schools are unable to cater for the emotional, social and spiritual development of Muslim children. Parents can withdraw their children from assembly but only a small minority does in the culturally mixed London Borough of Newham; only five children are exempted in 2001-2002.

    The silent majority of Muslim community has been engaged in setting up Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models. Now there are more than 120 schools and more are in the pipeline, four of them are state funded while others have to charge fees. The waiting lists are lengthy. There are thousands of parents who can\x92t afford to pay but they would like their children to attend Muslim schools. There should be an alternative and British Government should be thinking seriously about introducing Voucher System so that parents can choose where to send their children. DFES and LEAs should provide financial help to set up schools.
    Iftikhar Ahmad

    Comment by Iftikhar — 8 May 2005 on 9:41 am | Link

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