Do you really want me to open this can of worms? Yes, I really do not want to but someone has to speak up and it has fallen to someone like me.
We will seek to identify some major problems with the madrasa system in place in the UK.
These are some points that we are going to address:
- Teachers and standards
- Class sizes
- Child development
- Time allocated for teaching
- Disciplinary procedures
Teachers and standards
Madrasa education in the UK, much like our masjids, is in a terrible state. Most teachers are not qualified in Arabic language. Most of the teaching is done by force or by threat of harm. The teaching is not effective to reach the children. So it is not what is being taught that needs to change rather it is our methods. Beating and slapping kids in the face may have worked in our respective homelands but the UK is not going to stand for it much longer.
The teachers are not paid reasonable rates. I am not talking about good rates but reasonable rates this means the people who you send your child to normally cannot speak English. Discipline is clip around the ear or worse. Teachers are rude and unreasonable to children without any formal education training at all. Would you send your child to an unqualified teacher? In addition, my pet hate, the indo pak teachers who teach the Quranic Arabic in Urdu! Most of them teach what I call urdu-bic, which is neither Urdu type recitation, which is invalid as a reciting method. Facilities vary from very bad to terrible. Some of the places where lessons take place are cold or there is little heating. The list is very long and very distressing.
They are some teachers who are very good but they need help. Unfortunately, some of those running the madrasa are the least educated of people. I really am not joking.
Many people are opening Madrasas to make money and they are not qualified to do so. It is just moneymaking swindle and the public fall for it because they judge knowledge according to the amount of facial hair! Look carefully for the correct teacher for your child find out if he has permission to teach and listen to his recitation. It should be excellent and not like yours!
Class sizes and child development
The class sizes are too large and nothing is done about this. You place your child into a madrasa that has thirty children per hour or sixty in two hours. Do the maths; your child can only have two minutes with the teacher that means they get nothing. Because the child cannot recite in that time and do the next day’s lesson. Therefore, your child is neglected and makes no progress. That is why children spend years doing nothing and cannot recite the Quran properly or anything, even after eight years of attending madrasa/masjid.
There is no child development other than read your lesson or you will get a clip around the ear! It is more likely that the child will learn bad habits than learn to recite properly.
Time allocated for teaching and disciplinary procedures
Two or three hours are too long for a child to do after a day’s worth of school. An hour is okay but I used to run a madrasa that was running half an hour classes. Before you say, I cannot do anything in that time. I had small classes of five children and we made progress in thirty minutes that others made in a week of two hours a day! I made it short, concise and easy to understand.
Giving a child a clip around the ear should not occur. There should be no smacking the children ever in the masjid, if children are unruly then parents should be involved and the parents should decide on the appropriate measures that exclude being struck.
Money and syllabus
There is no syllabus for the other than the Quran. There are very little in terms of the work that needs to be cared out. There are no levels and not overall vision rather its do as the teacher says or punishment will follow.
Most Madrasas happily take your money and squander it, I am not joking. They boast about child sizes and neglect the children that they boast of! The better Madrasas ask you to pay more. Moreover, like most things in life you get what you pay for. This is no different, in fact, I would recommend people pay more and avoid those who pay less.
That being said there are some doing sterling work but they are marginalised. They either are out of work or marginalised. The best rule to follow the more kids in a class means the greater chance that your child is not being taught anything. Most Madrasas are not value for anyone’s money and it is just an excuse to take your money.
There are thousands of institutes and masjids across the country but how many are fulfilling their purpose? Only a few are giving any time of value for the fees the parents pay. If they were teaching children properly then we would have millions of new teachers but the fact is we have a few. This proves my point that the Madrasas are not teaching anything and are just wasting time and your money. I have nearly ten years of madrasa teaching experience and I have had many bad experiences. There are many people just taking money and not providing anything.
In an area, there might be a handful of people doing some good work. In some areas there are not any. Now I am not saying do not pay fees because you have to pay fees, these are the lifeblood of any madrasa.
There needs to be a reasonable wage given to teachers. Why should someone who has studied the religion not have a reasonable wage? The Madrasas should be able to do it and the masjids will definitely be able to. Most masjids have tens of thousands of pounds, some have millions that have been successfully squandered from the public funds.
There needs to be training of the teachers that reaches a level that they can be considered teachers! Instead of just uncles who know nothing. This is in terms of reading Arabic and the basics of the religion.
CRB or DBS checks need to be done with all staff as well some training of how to teach from colleges etc.
Hitting as a form of discipline should not occur ever. It should be abolished before the government intervenes and puts those who do this despicable practice into prison.
Getting teachers to come to one’s home and teach your children is one way but this depends on the teacher. Are they a good teacher or not? It can be a solution of sorts but it might not work long-term.
My way or the highway?
After working in a few madrasas. I came to the conclusion that the current methods do not work, it is not effective, wastes money, wastes time and does not prepare our children as it should. Yes, people may know their prayer but do they know the basics of belief, fiqh and other things? Nope they are like beginners. This is why Wahabism is so effective because they trap the uneducated Sunni with logical fallacies that they cannot break down.
What needs to be changed?
Here is my plan for change:
- Qualified teachers
This is a major problem: most teachers have no qualifications and are not fit to teach.
- Small, short classes
No more than an hour-long classes.
- No hitting
Students should not be hit but instead the parent should be informed of challenging behavior.
- Clear curriculum and stages
There needs to be progress charts and definite stages to their progress. Each stage needs planned books that they will study.
- Pay well
Teachers who are qualified should be paid well and not messed about. They should have contracts and rights as per the rights they have in normal places of work in the UK.
- Quranic Arabic
No one should be allowed to teach in Urdu-bic. Arabic is the only language that the Quran should be taught and learned!
Either we do this now willingly or there might come a time where the government takes charge by placing legislation that leaves us with no choice. The madrasa education system needs a complete overhaul and it needs to reach a level of professionalism that is not currently present. Why do we insist on running an old Datsun from the seventies whose engine does not start? The car has broken down and you need to get a new one! I would like to say to all the teachers, I have given you to tools to do something, so do it. No one else is going to help you, so you have to do it.