Philippines Madrasahs Dispel Fears

Muslims in dominantly-Catholic Philippines are striving to dispel fears that madrasahs (religious schools) are condoning violence.

Philippines Madrasahs Dispel Fears

Muslims in dominantly-Catholic Philippines arestriving to dispel fears that madrasahs (religious schools) are condoningviolence.

"We're challenging that mind-set," MamarosBoransing, a Muslim educator and an undersecretary at the Education Department,told Reuters on Wednesday, March 21.

"We're reforming our own madrasah system topromote a culture of peace and national unity."

There are an estimated 2,000 madrasahs in the Philippines, more than half in the southern island of Mindanao according to Reuters.

Only 40% of these madrasahs are accredited by theDepartment of Education.

"Only eight percent of these madrasahs areunder the control of the government," said Ricardo Blancaflor, defenseundersecretary and former director of an anti-terrorism task force.

"We don't want our madrasahs to becomefactories for terrorists."

Muslims make up 5% of the country's 87 millionpopulation.

The mineral-rich southern region of Mindanao,Islam's birthplace in the Philippines,is home to 5 million Muslims.

Islam reached the poor Southeast Asian state in the13th century, about 200 years before Christianity .


Boransingsaid the madrasah system is trying to strike the right balance and help promotea culture of tolerance.

"We'vejust planted the seed of tolerance and understanding," the Muslim educatorpointed out.

"Wedon't really want our Muslim children to become virtual strangers in their owncountry, but, at the same time, we don't want them to grow ignorant of their cultureand religion."

The Education Department hasintroduced in 2005 a new curriculum offering Arabic and Islamic studies tostate schools in Muslim-dominated areas outside Mindanao.

In thecapital Manila,the government has started test runs for the new madrasah system in 37state-run primary and secondary schools, where a majority of the pupils areMuslims.

"In thebeginning, it was difficult to learn Arabic," said Hamid Abdul, a10-year-old beginner at Geronimo Santiago Elementary School near the presidential palace complex.

"I haveto learn it to be able to read the Qur'an."

About 70percent of 1,000 pupils at Hamid's school are Muslims and most of them havebeen attending weekend classes on Arabic and Islamic values.

"We'reteaching only the basic to help them understand the language of theQur'an," said one of 2,000 Muslim teachers trained by the EducationDepartment.

"Underour constitution, state schools are not allowed to teach religion."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16