Monday, 8 April 2013
Does Scotland Need Islamic Schools?
Last year it was reported that Muslims in Glasgow intended to purchase the former Holmlea Primary building in Cathcart, to turn it into a secondary school for their children.
However the purchase fell through and they've now bought the Category 'B' listed building Abbotsford House (pictured) in Abbotsford Place which they intend to use as the first Islamic secondary school in Scotland.
The bid is being led by parents and professionals concerned about the environment in Scotland's schools. Glasgow Community Education Association (GCEA), which is behind the project, claims attending mainstream schools is resulting in 'unsocial behaviour' among Muslim youngsters and that the lack of Islamic schools is forcing Muslim families out of Glasgow.
Glasgow has one Islamic primary school and according to its website it intends to open another in Dundee.
Previous attempts to establish Muslim schools in Scotland have been unsuccessful. Both the Iqra Academy in Glasgow and the Imam Muhammad Zakariya School for girls in Dundee closed after receiving negative inspector reports. The Iqra Academy, which shut in 2003, was critised by inspectors for giving pupils no opportunities to mix with the local community and for its treatment of girls at the school.
I'm not a supporter of faith schools, regardless of domination. Although I believe this new school is to be privately funded, I believe it will further segregate the Muslim population in Glasgow. Repeatedly we're told that integration is important to make a sound and tolerant society, but when one section decides to openly reject one of Scotland's fundamental principles, that of a public education for all children, it sets a dangerous precedent.
Often I hear those of a left-wing political preference critising parents who decide to send their children to private schools, yet hardly a whisper about the development of a private Islamic school.
Catholic schools - as well as church schools in England - are multi-denominational these days but I can't foresee a Muslim school opening its doors to those of another religion (or none).
There will be a burden on Scottish Muslims to prove that their schools are - and will remain - non-supremacist, tolerance and not discriminatory against women or minorities.
Back to my question 'Does Scotland Need Islamic Schools?' I think not. They will bring more division into a part of Scotland where religion causes too much already.