To make children’s educational experiences more culturally appropriate, different communities have attempted different solutions. Muslim communities have largely resorted to faith-based schools and home-schooling.
Unfortunately, both approaches have some limitations.
Many community (Muslim) schools do poorly in addressing contentious topics in a culturally sensitive manner while others are outright indifferent. Some of these schools are very lax about Halal dietary requirements while others enforce a strange dress code. One school even mandates the wearing of ties yet excludes students who choose to wear niqab.
If more than one sibling is enrolled in the same school, some schools require all siblings to leave should the parents wish to take one child out for HIFZ! Yet some others reject home-schooled Hafidh students altogether regardless of their academic performance. Many of these schools exclude not-so-well-performing students in pursuit of higher school rankings.
Home-schooling, on the other hand, can be plagued with issues of academic under-performance. Parents are often too busy and/or lack academic ability, initiative and experience to contribute meaningfully to their children’s education. Some are also reluctant to dedicate sufficient financial resources to education. The combination of these factors is extremely harmful for children’s learning.
Home-schooling support centers are limited in the number of hours they can offer due to financial constraints placed by parents’ reluctance to pay adequately. As a result, many home-schooled children, especially Hifz students, fall so far back academically that after completion of Hifz, they can not qualify for a Muslim school.
Hifz students who can’t qualify for a Muslim school usually have no option but to enrol in the public school system where they are inundated with many issues which they are ill-prepared to deal with. Neither public nor Muslim schools accommodate these students’ need to prepare for Ramadan by reducing their academic workload and freeing up their time. As a result, many fresh Hifz graduates don’t lead Taraweeh for years until they complete their HSC. This damages their hifz; for some, irreparably.
We feel that a different approach is required where children’s cultural needs are counterbalanced by their academic needs.