How Muslim parents make their decision of sending their children to Islamic schools or to State schools.
The study of how Muslim parents decide to send their children to either Islamic Schools or public has now been studied for some time and it has provided different answers for different questions. This study has mainly been carried out because of the now increasing evidence if the cultural and political differences being seen as a result of the diverse cultures and religion in existence amongst people of different ethnicities in the world. For one to understand the strong differences that occur in people’s cultures and beliefs, it is critical to look at the origin of the process of acculturation in a particular community or society. Acculturation is the process whereby there is exchange of certain aspects of a culture between two different cultural societies.
The acculturation process usually begins at childhood. This is because children are easily socialized in the norms that are involved in their culture and this affects their social outlook as they grow up. Education on the other hand is the transmission of information and knowledge from one generation to the next. Education is a basic of every person today to gain education. The Islamic culture encourages its members to seek knowledge. This is viewed to be one of the most precious things that one can acquire in life because it enhances intellectual growth. Education is an individual asset which no one can take away from another and which is necessary in going through life. In life and in Islam the greatest value of education is to enable one to provide good leadership mostly amongst the youth. The major objective of Islam is to enable the development of one’s character and also one’s Islamic personality and this is what is emphasized in many Islamic schools. Parents play a major role in educating their children. The initial education provided to children under the guidance of their parents is very important and shows the parents role. As children grow the society they grow around has a great impact in influencing the character of every individual child.
However, the bad news is that Muslims have been evidenced to be the most illiterate in the world in a study conducted in all Muslim nations. This has led to many parents who value more unlimited education for their children to send them to schools abroad to the western countries. This has proved to be advantageous to their children but has also led to the introduction of unseen challenges to both the parents and the children. For example In Britain, the Muslims send their children to government schools and then they teach them at home or in the mosques.
Consequently, like any other normal school in the world, in state schools children would often face problems like discriminating or bullying based upon their religious orientation. The damage whether it is psychological or physical can impact the behavior and can influence the Muslim student’s performance in the classroom. From the Muslim parents’ perspective, the knowledge that their children would receive is going to be through a secular perspective and this often will be open and unbiased towards any particular religion. As a result, there emerged two choices for Islamic parents to choose in educating their children. This is whether to send them to Islamic schools or to state schools.
This problem started in the advent of the twentieth century and due to mainly Western influence and sometimes colonialism, Muslim parents sometimes preferred imparting only secular knowledge to their children. The weak students were mainly sent to religious schools known as Madrasas within their countries. However those who migrated to the west chose to take their children to both public and religious schools for a number of reasons. These reasons applied both to those in the west and those in the middle-east.
One of the best and most popular reasons among Muslim parents for the reason as to why they send their children to Islamic schools is that it provides the perfect surrounding to learn the Muslim culture because of an Islamic surrounding and environment. For example, children in Muslim schools socialize with other children of the Islamic following and pray together in the Islamic way. They are more importantly exposed to modern vices that exist in urban and westernized schools such as fornication, alcohol and drugs. Moreover, Muslim schools are ideal centers to provide identity in the society for children. To prove this, some interviewed Muslim children attest that their parents would most likely send them to an Islamic school if there is the presence of one in their locality. This shows the preference of many Muslim parents.
According to one Islamic based teacher in New York by the name of Yahiya Emerick states that Islamic Schools provide the children with the opportunity to be able to identify themselves with the Islamic community and its values and thus it provides a sense of belonging to the children and they feel that they belong to a certain community and proud to be identified with it. To support this view, the president of the Muslim Education Council in Virginia points out that these Islamic schools provide a sense of self-worth, pride and cultural identity that the children cannot acquire in a public or State school. His organization teaches mostly administrators and educators about Islam and the Middle Eastern culture. He also adds that the sense of identity comes from not only socializing with other Muslim children and praying together but also from memories of praying and reciting Islamic scriptures, listening to the Adhan and talking about the problems facing the Islamic society and this proved to be priceless for an Islamic individual in the future.
However, there are many other reasons why parents sometimes prefer taking their children to Islamic school. For example is that for example if a parent realizes that his child is turning into being rude and unruly, the parent may result in looking for a quick solution to the situation at hand and decide to send his child to an Islamic school and this is estimated to be the case that has led about one third of the children in Islamic schools to be admitted there. This however has proved to be highly disadvantageous to Islamic schools because some of the children expelled from public schools because of gross misconduct are being dumped in Muslim schools. This is said to be the result of the attitude of most Muslim parents that the Muslim institutions are effective correction centers for their children instead of public schools which they see as having a higher probability of being a catalyst for their children’s bad behavior. This has sometimes led to some parents complaining sometimes that Islamic schools are being a bad influence on their children’s behavior at times but Islamic institutions have been quick to point out that the children didn’t all come a being of good conduct in the society and some had come from public school.
Another good reason why Muslim parent take their children to Muslim school is because they are more exposed to Islamic knowledge in Muslim schools. The former president of the young Muslims of Canada which is an organization based in Ontario, Taha Ghayyur says that a lot of Canadian born Muslim children have a lot of difficulty in studying Arabic writings and the Quran and because of their interaction with other cultures, they tend to have a little difference in their view to Islam in comparison to their Middle-Eastern brothers and sisters. However, there are a number of Islamic followers who also believe that the information mainly acquired in Islamic schools is much more limited as compared to that gained in Public schools. One of the people who support this view is Shabbir Mansuri who is the founding director if the institute of Fountain Valley which is a Council on Islamic Education based in California. Taking his example, he has three daughters of which only the youngest attends an Islamic school because Islamic schools were not available before when his two other daughters were growing up. He points out that in the case of his younger daughter, she has been able to recite the Surahs and scriptures from the Quran but he also sees that the Islamic schools have not made a difference in the understanding of the Quranic scriptures. This is considered to be one advantage of State schools because they help the children understand what they are studying,
This and many other reasons give cause to the decision of enrolling their children in state schools. One reason for example is that in most public schools mostly in the west, state school education is usually provided free by the government. This is an economic consideration by most parents in the world. for example in the situation of Islamic parents living in the west, it is only when they grew in numbers and acquired more resources that they opened more Islamic schools starting from kindergarten to high school. As a result, it is estimated that in places like in Northern America alone, there are presently about three hundred Islamic schools which provide integrated education. In cases of where there were lower resources, the children were taken to state schools during the weekdays and to Islamic schools during the weekends.
Another factor is that due to the high enrolment rates to public schools, there are a higher number of individuals from different social and economic backgrounds and this is not always a bad factor as and enables children to embrace people of different backgrounds. This is a point supported by many liberal Islamic families living in the West. Other factors which give an advantage to state schools over Islamic schools are that have sometimes better qualified and trained and certified teachers who provide standard teaching to the children. The teachers are mainly objective in impacting the required knowledge on the students and monitoring the students’ progress. This is the main reason that many Islamic parents sometimes send their children from the middle-east to the western schools. This can be evidenced by the children of the monarchs of Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
In conclusion, it can be observed that the boundaries of knowledge are expanding on a daily basis and in the western world; Muslim parents are facing an ever-increasing challenge of deciding the right school for their children. It overall clear that the every parent would like to enroll his or her child in a school that provides academic excellence and spiritual growth but it is mostly the role of the parents to weigh the better option between Islamic schools and public schools. This is by putting their disadvantages and disadvantages together and considering what is best for their children.
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