Inside madrassas: Understanding and engaging with British-Muslim faith supplementary schools

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30 nov 2011

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation hosted the launch of IPPR’s new report shedding light on UK madrassas and the significant part they play in the lives of most Muslim children in the UK

Muslims are the largest minority faith group in the UK and about 250,000 children attend approximately 2,000 madrassas, which makes these supplementary schools an important feature of British communities.

However, there is generally poor understanding of the role of madrassas: their number, how they are funded and governed and what impact they have on the children who attend them and on society as a whole. As a result, the potential madrassas have to support children’s development and promote social cohesion has often been overlooked.

To tackle this issue, IPPR undertook a pioneering piece of research – supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation – to map UK madrassas in order to initiate a productive debate, among policy makers, communities and madrassas themselves, about their social role in and beyond the Islamic community.

The report – researched and written by Myriam Cherti and Laura Bradley – presents findings and recommendations that provide the evidence needed to inform us how British madrassas work, how they impact on local communities, and the part they can play in the educational, social and religious development of children in the UK.

Key recommendations made include that:

· Madrassas should strive to support the personal development of their pupils, which could involve broadening the scope of teaching to include ethics, history and spirituality in an Islamic context, as well as personal development subjects pertaining to identity, British citizenship, integration and community relations.
· The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) should develop a National Resource Unit to develop and supply curricula for madrassas/mosques and Islamic centres, and could also provide guidelines for training madrassas teachers on broadening the content of their lessons.
· All madrassas should have child protection policies and health and safety policies, and madrassas staff should be trained on how to effectively implement policies, with training provided by MINAB and the NRC.

The aim is that this research will come to inform a wider study on young Muslims and integration policies across Europe.

Link to the report:

Press links:
The Guardian, ‘Think tank issues new report on madrassas’
BBC Radio 4, ‘You and Yours’ Programme
Islam Channel:
Part 1:
Part 2:

Further links:
IPPR blog
IPPR short film

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