The Islamic schools deserve congratulations on their attainment of public funded status. In a democratic and pluralistic state, such recognition is long overdue. Nevertheless, as schools in such a state, it is incumbent upon them, as it is upon all schools, to educate pupils into an imaginative and objective understanding of all significant religions and philosophies of life.
Will the Islamic schools be undertaking to do this? While we acknowledge their right to initiate pupils into the Islamic faith, it is also their duty to educate pupils in alternative traditions and lifestyles, as is the case in Christian, Jewish and secular schools. Unless schools give pupils understanding of all the traditions they are likely to meet, the divisive attitudes which have created so much suffering will certainly deepen.
More than religious education is required if intercultural bonds are to be strengthened, however. When Christian, Islamic and other schools develop various links through sport, social and communal activities, these offer, surely, an opportunity for mutual friendship and understanding that is too precious to miss.
Dr MIKE NEWBY
38 Common Rd Redhill Surrey