Islamic primary schools seeking right balance


Islamic primary schools seeking right balance

Islamic primary schools contribute to the integration of Muslims in Dutch society and offer children a sense of belonging and prepare them for Dutch society. Marietje Beemsterboer states in her PhD dissertation that the prejudice that Islamic primary schools impede the integration of children is incorrect…The dominant image of Islamic primary schools in the media is based on the three strict Islamic primary schools that are located in the Netherlands. In total, the Netherlands is home to 52 Islamic schools.

Islamic primary schools differ widely. Those differences are expressed in the schools’ choices. The vast majority of schools focus a lot of attention on Dutch society’s requirements of young pupils in their optional lessons, Beemsterboer discovered. The school is continuously asked to consider its options on sensitive themes such as using certain instruments during music lessons (some streams of Islam are against playing of and listening to particular musical instruments) and a topic such as sexual diversity.

For parents, it’s important that their child is well-prepared for Dutch society and still has sufficient contact with Islamic customs. Beemsterboer: ‘Since schools are continuously walking the tightrope between Islam in all its manifestations and the relatively secular Dutch society, Islamic parents now feel heard.’ Provided that the ‘strict’ schools also meet the legal requirements, they can spend their optional lessons on Islamic subjects. For instance, such matters as segregating physical education classes, wearing the headscarf and adhering to Islamic rules.’

Source: Leiden University

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