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Original Message
Forum Muslim Schools 
Topic An Open Letter to Mr. Graham Lane. 
Author Iftikhar 
Date Created 27/04/2003 22:25:22 
Message Established 1981
London School of Islamics
An Educational Trust
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Email: info@londonschoolofislamics.org.uk
Tel/Fax: 0208 555 2733 / 07817 112 667

An Open letter to Mr. Graham Lane
Leader of the Local Education Authorities of England

Teaching and learning of foreign languages is not a priority in the British education system. State schools are reluctant to teach foreign languages. Only 3% of Britain has knowledge of a foreign language. The first wave of immigrants arrived with two or three languages but their children born and educated can only speak English in local accents. Community languages have never been taken seriously.

Mr. Graham Lane said in a conference on teaching of foreign languages that schools must teach foreign languages at the age of three. Every teacher should learn a foreign language. The monolingual approach of UK is unacceptable in the modern world. Language teaching in schools should be treated with the same determination as the literacy and numeracy strategies and should begin in pre-school and infant classes. The diversity of languages is crucial for understanding in a world which is increasingly mobile. Already three quarters of the people in the world are bilingual but British education system is reluctant to take bilingualism seriously.

Muslim community has been campaigning for the teaching of Arabic and Urdu languages in state schools for a long time but not a single LEA has taken this issue seriously. The result is that the young generation of Muslims is unable to speak, read and understand newspapers, literature and poetry in Arabic and Urdu. They are cut off from their cultural roots making them mis-fit for their own community. They suffer from Identity Crises. They have lost the sense of belongingness. Muslim teachers can be recruited from abroad for the teaching of Arabic and Urdu and at the same time they can help Muslim children in math, sciences and other subjects in the classroom in their own language.

Mr. Graham Lane is the chairman of the Education Committee of London Borough of Newham. Charity begins at home. He should put his words into practice. He should introduce the teaching and learning of Arabic and Urdu languages in all nursery, infant, primary and secondary schools for Muslim pupils as a matter of priority.

Newham has also decided to give half day off a week to teachers in certain schools from September and if this experiment is successful than all teachers will get half day off from next year. It will give teachers more time to prepare lessons. Friday is a Holy day for the Muslims. It is obligatory for Muslims to attend Friday congregational prayers in Masajid. Muslim teachers should be given half a day off on every Friday after noon so that they can also perform their prayers in the Masajid as well as prepare lessons. The move will pave a way for a better understanding between the host community and Muslim community and improve race relations which are at the bottom for the time being.
Iftikhar Ahmad
Topic Re: An Open Letter to Mr. Graham Lane. 
Author Catherine 
Date Created 30/04/2003 20:42:22 
Message I read this letter and the other discussions you posted with interest.

I agree with most things you have said. It was the sentence concerning the teaching of Arabic and Urdu in all nursery primary and secondary schools for Muslim children that I do not agree with.

The teaching of Arabic and Urdu should be available for ALL children, not just Muslim children. You talk of improving understanding between host and Muslim communities.... what better way to show Muslim communities respect and understanding that to be able to communicate in your languages?

For Muslim children it would be giving them their right to be educated in their own language, and to give them understanding and pride in their culture. For other children of varying origins it gives them another language, better job opportunities and further communication skills.

If you look at bilingual projects abroad they are based on children from 2 or more origins being educated in 2 or more languages. I agree the Muslim children are losing out, but dont forget so are the Chinese children, the German children and the British children(etc) that are educated in England. The National Curriculum does not promote the learning of languages or bilingual education at all... and that is what needs to change. 
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