An RE curriculum would help bridge gulf over faith schools

9th January 2009 at 00:00

What a mess our education system is in. Having encouraged more faith schools, especially Muslim, Hindu and Sikh, the whole concept has begun to be seriously questioned. Many shortcomings - including some covert and some overt discriminatory practices - have begun to surface.

It is also becoming increasingly worrying that the students in these institutions are not receiving a well-rounded education, but rather are being channelled into narrow groves of sectarian brands. A Muslim school, for example, is supposed to welcome Muslim pupils from all sects of Islam, and yet in practice the admission policies of these schools work against this principle.

The question of admitting children from other faiths does not arise because faith schools say they are over-subscribed with members from their own communities.

The short-term answer lies in trying to reform the system and give it a sensible direction so that most of the anomalies and discriminatory practices are ironed out.

It is true that most faith schools produce good results in comparison to the neglected state schools in run-down areas, but why should that surprise anyone? Comparisons should be made on the basis of like for like, otherwise the picture is wholly misleading.

The policies for cohesion and integration can never be achieved through a system of education that is narrow-centred and divisive.

Manzoor Moghal, Chairman, Muslim Forum.

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