Faizel Patel – 24/02/2021
The Secretary of the Association of Muslim Schools (AMS) Ebrahim Ansur says while the first Muslim schools pre-dispensation were established by pioneers to avoid learners being influenced by foreign ideologies and an alien cultural outlook, with the dawn of democracy, communities felt it was necessary to establish Muslim independent schools just as other faith-based schools in the country.
Ansur and Abdullah Sujee from the Roshnee Islamic School were speaking to Radio Islam on Wednesday about an article penned by Nuraan Davids, a professor of philosophy of education at Stellenbosch University.
In the article, “A critical look at what’s missing from Muslim education in South Africa” which first appeared in The Conversation, Davids writes that Muslim schooling and education in South Africa has remained unchanged in its ideas and the way it is taught.
The article also states the concern that Muslim schools and communities may be too isolated and may not adequately prepare its learners or its teachers for the demands of a pluralist and diverse society.
Ansur says a state aided dispensation allowed schools with a religious ethos to operate.
“With the promulgation of the South African schools act, there were only two types of schools. Either independent or private or state. If you opted for the state dispensation than there was no focus on religion at all. Since that time, Muslim independent schools have mushroomed.”
Sujee says Muslims schools have met the objectives of why they were established.
“We have met with the demands of the globalisation of the world where we have kept our ethos and made people understand the magnificence of Islam within a multicultural society. Our schools also have children, teachers and staff who are not Muslim. The misnomer out there that our schools only have Muslims and are only Indian in cultural context is also a fallacy.
Sujee says some of the arguments in David’s article is debatable.
“Our schools are not pluralistic as the article contends, nor do we polarise one over the other. We try to have this inclusivity very much like all schools have, save the fact that we keep to an ethos and we allow our children to have the teaching of Islam to them.”
Ansur and Sujee both concur that one of the arguments in David’s article is very parochial when referring to Muslim-based schools being influenced by the historical heritage of Islam of either a predominant “Malay” or “Indian” ethos.
Ansur says AMS will be responding to David’s article.
Listen to the discussion by Ebrahim Ansoor and Abdullah Sujee