Reclaiming the word “Madrasa”

Madrasa as an institute of education and growth
Madrasa as an institute of education and growth

In the twenty first century, the word “Madrasa” is associated with terrorism, fundamentalism and rote learning. In Mombasa, East Africa however, with the help of the Aga Khan Foundation’s Madrasa Resource Centre, located in Mombasa, Kenya, the Madrasas are beginning to take on their original meaning. “Madrasa” is the Arabic word for school.

Mombasa is usually known in the international community as a beach town that is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and features tourists sun bathing in their bikinis. To get to these beaches, however, you drive past what some call the “real” Mombasa, the “downtown” area. Mombasa, as a town based on the port, has had generations of Arab traders pass through and settle, and this has led to its  being a town with a very Muslim character today.

As a result of this, in the town and surrounding rural regions, there are several Muslim pre-schools. Previously, in these schools however, children were only being taught how to recite the Qur’an. This put them at a severe disadvantage when they joined  primary state education as they could not read or do the other basic factors required of them. Over the last 20 years, however, the Madrasa Resource Centre, has identified such schools, and trained the teachers in a new integrated nursery curriculum that encompasses Maths, (a basic requirement of any student); English,(the language of the world);  Kiswahili  (the national language of Kenya); and Arabic (the language that afternoon Qur’an studies are taught in). This ensures Muslim children can integrate into State Education and also continue with their religious lessons in the afternoon.  Arabic is included in the morning sessions to ensure that when children learn the Qur’an in the afternoon, they are understanding the meaning of what they are reading and not simply reciting it by heart.  Children have now been able to easily assimilate into state primary education.

More The NATO Council of Canada » Reclaiming the word “Madrasa”.

Earlier: Aga Khan Foundation’s Madrasa Resource Centre Schools: Plugging the schooling gaps in Tanzania
Madrasa Resource Centre Launch Its 25th Anniversary Publication
“Madrasa Resource Centre, Kenya – funded and supported by the Aga Khan Foundation
Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Madrasa Programme Mombasa

Related at Aga Khan Development Network: http://www.akdn.org/kenya_education.asp

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