Posted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 11:31 am Post subject: MADRASA EARLY CHILDHOOD - '25 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE’
MADRASA EARLY CHILDHOOD
- '25 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE’
Coastweek -- Arif Neky is seen presenting a publication for
pre-primary students to the Revolutionary Government of
Zanzibar Deputy Chief Minister Hon. Ali Juma Shamuhuna
and overnment of Tanzania Deputy Minister, Ministry of
Community Development, Gender and Children Dr Lucy
Nkya (G,) with Madrasa Resource Centre Regional Com-
mittee Chairman Dr Farouk Topan [on the left] and Aga
Khan Foundation East Africa Regional Committee Chair-
man Alkarim Dawood [on the right] looking on.
"AGA KHAN DEVELOPMENT NETWORK" IN EAST
AFRICA LAUNCH IMPORTANT NEW PUBLICATION
Coastweek -- "Early childhood development has long been a cornerstone of the Aga Khan Development Network’s work in East Africa.
"The Madrasa programme, which we are celebrating today, has been critical in reaching marginalised children and ensuring their retention and success in primary schooling and beyond."
These remarks were part of the Welcome Address made today at Diamond Jubilee Hall in Dar es Salaam by Alkarim Dawood, Regional Chairman of the Aga Khan Foundation, East Africa, during the launch of a new publication entitled:
The Madrasa Early Childhood Programme: 25 Years of Experience.
The publication is the first in a new series that highlights lessons and best practices that have emerged from the Aga Khan Development Network.
The publication is aimed at sharing knowledge and lessons learned with governments and other development partners in the design, implementation and scaling up of development programmes.
The Madrasa Early Childhood Programme began in the early 1980s at the request of the Muslim community in Mombasa, Kenya to His Highness the Aga Khan for assistance in improving the overall level of educational achievement of children in local communities.
Since then, it has expanded to other communities in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda and has facilitated the establishment of over 200 community pre-schools and reached over 67,000 children.
The Programme builds on the Islamic ethic of pluralism and has fostered collaboration between children and parents across faiths.
The Programme’s goal is to increase access to, retention in, and quality of education in primary school for children from marginalised communities by improving their overall well-being through strategies that foster a child-friendly and supportive household and pre-school environment in their early developmental years.
The Programme aims to develop a replicable, locally relevant approach to community-based early childhood education and development.
The Madrasa Programme engages government, development partners and civil society organisations to promote enabling policies on and attention to early childhood development.
Aside from its contribution to policy development, the Programme has worked with governments to strengthen the capacity of personnel at local levels to deliver quality early childhood development services.
The Programme also assists communities to support and manage their pre-schools to meet quality indicators related to levels of community involvement, the teaching and learning environ-ments and school management efforts.
The Programme is committed to finding mechanisms that support communities’ abilities to sustain their pre-schools and teachers.
Through this publication, the Aga Khan Development Network hopes to engage development partners and share the experi-ence for further development and expansion of the Madrasa Programme and its potential replication elsewhere in Africa and beyond.
AGA KHAN DEVELOPMENT NETWORK:
The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of private, international, non-denomi-national agencies working to improve living conditions and opportunities for people in some of the poorest parts of the developing world.
The Network’s organisations have individual mandates that range from the fields of health and education to architecture, rural development and the promotion of private-sector enterprise.
Together they collaborate in working towards a common goal - to build institutions and programmes that can respond to the challenges of social, economic and cultural change on an ongoing basis.
The Network brings together a number of agencies, institutions and programmes that have been built up over the past 40 years, and in some cases, date back to the early twentieth century.
AKDN agencies conduct their programmes without regard to the faith, origin or gender of the people they serve.
Aga Khan Foundation (AKF):
The Aga Khan Foundation is a private, non-denominational development agency that seeks sustainable solutions to long-term problems of poverty through an integrated, community-based participatory approach that reinforces civil society and respects local cultures.
In addition to its role as a funding agency, AKF involves itself actively in the planning and execution of its programmes in support of national and local governments, and sectoral priorities.
In East Africa, AKF works primarily in five major areas: education, rural development, health, civil society and the environment.
Its efforts are undertaken in concert with those of its sister AKDN agencies, whose man-dates range from microfinance, water and sanitation to housing and large-scale economic infrastructure.
In every undertaking, the overriding goal is to assist in the struggle against disease, illiteracy, ignorance and social exclusion through implementation of innovative solutions to development.
Central to all these efforts are inclusive, community-based development approaches, in which local organisations identify, prioritise and implement projects with the Foundation’s assistance.
Book review: Madrassa versus enlightenment —by Khaled Ahmed
Islam and Education: Conflict and Conformity in Pakistan’s Madrassas;
By Saleem H Ali: OUP 2009;
Pp214; Price Rs 495
Saleem H Ali has emerged as an informed and credible commentator on Pakistan, writing his column in Daily Times especially on things relating to Pakistan’s radicalising religious institutions. This book has come out of his fieldwork in Pakistan and is a valuable addition to our knowledge of the madrassa systems here.
At the time of independence in 1947, there were only 137 madrassas in Pakistan. According to a 1956 survey, there were 244 madrassas in all of Pakistan (excluding East Pakistan). While there is no comprehensive census of madrassas in Pakistan at present, a reasonable estimate based on Ali’s review of multiple empirical and journalistic sources would suggest that there between 12,000 and 15,000 madrassas in Pakistan, with an enrolment of around 1.5 and 2 million.
In contrast, there are approximately 15,000 government schools with an enrolment of around 16 million, and 35,000 secular private schools with an enrolment of 6 million, and 25,000 auqaf or mosque schools (not madrassas) with an enrolment of around 1.5 million (p.25). There are other sources inside Pakistan who insist that the madrassa is too large and too variegated to be counted accurately; they say total number of madrassas could go up to 22,000!
Do we hate madrassas? Some of us do because we can’t seem to convince anyone that they are dangerous. Those who sympathise with them despite clear research-proved evidence of extremism in them consciously support the expanding ability of the madrassas to reject the state of Pakistan. The xenophobic mindset is in the ascendant. Those who hate foreign-linked institutions far outnumber those who are leery of the madrassas.
The Aga Khan Board controversy started when President Musharraf signed an executive order (the Presidential Ordinance of November 8, 2002; CXIV/2002) inducting the Aga Khan University Examination Board (AKUEB) into the national education system. The AKUEB was selected due to its excellent record in higher learning and would join the existing 24 examination boards nationwide. It was given the task of upgrading and modernising the declining standards of education and of holding examinations for private educational institutions.
The religious parties objected because the Aga Khan’s followers are Ismailis who are not accepted as Muslims in the conservative circles. They added to the suspicion of examinership the involvement of the US in funding. USAID, in funding some of the educational programmes of the Aga Khan Foundation, including a $4 million grant for the establishment of the examination board, raised the hackles of opponents of the Ismailis.
Sectarian politics was once again sparked by rhetoric from the leading madrassa Dawat wal Irshad in Muridke. In the internet edition of its weekly publication Ghazwa (November 4, 2004), the madrassa warned against the converting the Northern Areas into an Ismaili state. Hafiz Saeed wrote: “Musharraf is working on making the Northern Areas an Ismaili state. He has been pressured by Christina Rocca (former US assistant secretary of state for South Asia) to hand over Kashmir to Prince Karim Aga Khan so that he could annex it with the Northern Areas and make it his fiefdom”. Author Ali thinks that this kind of conspiracy-mongering by the madrassa was “disturbingly similar to the campaign against the Ahmedis”. (p.113)
The book finds the jihadists also providing self-selected surveys against Ismailis. Thus the Daily Jasarat reported (December 19, 2004): According to a survey by the Islami Jamiat-e Tulaba (IJT), 854,000 people have rejected the Aga Khan Board examination system called AKB. There was only a certain amount of popularity of AKB in Sindh while elsewhere 93.02 per cent rejected the AKB. Director of the Khair-ul-Madaris in Multan, Maulana Hanif Jalandhari, accused the government of inconsistency — trying to give independence to the Aga Khan Boa while restricting madrassa procedures.
However, the major difference between the Aga Khan Board and the madrassa system is that the exam criteria for the Aga Khan programme, and indeed all private schools, are still subject to government approval, whereas the madrassa programmes at present have no government oversight (p.113). But madrassas have other leverage too because of the support they get from the religious parties. In March 2004, the MMA, the alliance of five religious parties, disrupted National Assembly proceedings and staged a walkout protesting the exclusion of certain Quranic verses from the new edition of a state-prescribed biology textbook.
The clerics threatened the government upon which the federal education minister Zubaida Jalal immediately clarified that no chapter or verses relating to jihad or Holy War or shahadat (martyrdom) had been deleted from textbook and that the particular verse referring to jihad had only been shifted from the biology textbook for intermediate students (Classes XI and XII) to the matriculation level course (Class X). Why should jihad or shahadat be mentioned in a biological textbook? (p.115)
The book sees that ‘highly negative material is presented regarding minority religious groups’, particularly Hindus and Jews. This is what the government needs to correct, ‘but hate mongering should not be conflated with an immediate reduction in Islamic curricular content as it is likely to lead to neither policy being implemented’. Both hate speech and Islamic content have collectively been the focus of extensive criticism in Pakistan by secular NGOs such as the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), whose report titled Subtle Subversion (2004) had created quite a storm in Pakistan (p.115).
Saleem H Ali says: “When I interviewed Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghazi [of Red Mosque or Lal Masjid] in the winter of 2004, he came across as someone who regarded most foreign researchers with suspicion and felt that Islamabad was being indoctrinated by foreign elements. There was little doubt that this was a madrassa with a mission of sanctimonious reform of the urban corridors of power. The governing board of madrassas was well aware of this radicalisation but kept a low profile on the matter until early 2007 when they finally expelled the Red Mosque family of madrassas from their board.” (p.173)
Maulana Ghazi’s students had taken out their anger several years earlier on the local market in Islamabad containing Melody Cinema after the killing of a notable religious cleric to send a message to the government which was never really interested in reading them. After the 2007 confrontation, the author was handed a flier by a youth lamenting the Red Mosque siege and calling for a national uprising against the government.
The pamphlet contained the other exhortation of a caliphate and termed readership in Urdu as ‘Ahl-e-Quwwat’, meaning ‘People of Power’, and exhorted them to join together to establish the authority of Islam, indicating that ‘no other form of governance was acceptable to them’. The note was signed Hizb-al-Tahrir — a well-known militant organisation that has its roots in the United Kingdom.
Author Ali recommends that all madrassas may be shown the Quranic verse Sura 2 Verse 52 which states quite clearly that ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ (p.177), but the fact is that during the Lal Masjid showdown a TV reporter did ask the danda-bearing girls of the seminary about this very verse. The answer was rehearsed: it applies only to the non-Muslims. In other words, the concessionary verse is for the non-Muslims. Once you become a Muslim, you will be coerced against munkiraat and coerced in favour of marufaat. And this goes into far more detail than just pornography. You can be whipped for shaving.
One agrees with the author when says: “Like the famous Stockholm prisoner, many in the Frontier became so entranced with these intellectual incarcerators that they actually began to like them. The educated class began to believe that somehow the fanatics must be correct — for they had a contorted courage of conviction that made them appear like mythical super-heroes.” *
Finance minister urges on Early education
Publication date: Sunday, 26th July, 2009
Bumba (centre) and Madrasa officials study early childhood literature
By Patrick Jaramogi
THE high dropout rate among primary school pupils is a result of their poor upbringing, the finance minister, Syda Bbumba, has said.
Speaking during celebrations to mark 25 years of Madrasa Early Childhood Education programme at Protea Hotel in Kampala last week, Bbumba noted that early childhood education was a life-long investment that lays a strong foundation to build on.
She explained that investing in early childhood education gives the child life-long skills and reduces the cost of education.
“When Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme was launched in 1997, many doubted it, saying it was a white elephant. We started with 2.5 million children and today we have 7.8 million,” she stated.
Nazim Mohammed, the chairman of Madrasa in Uganda, said schools supported by the Aga Khan Foundation, were seeking to help parents and communities provide early education to their children.
“In Uganda the Madrasa programme has supported over 200 communities, over 50,000 children and trained over 400 teachers,” he noted.
He said the centre was taking care of the most needy children in society.
“It is not only about academic learning, but about a holistic development of the child,” he explained.
According to statistics, at least 60% of the pupils in the UPE programme, especially girls, drop out of school before reaching Primary Seven.
Madrasa Resource Centre Launch Its 25th Anniversary Publication
Coastweek-- Seen [from left] MRCK National Board Chairman Omar Lali, Chief Kadhi of Kenya Sheikh Hammad M. Kassim, Minister of Transport Honourable Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Deputy Director of Basic Education Shaaban Mohammed Digo, Aga Khan Foundation, East Africa CEO Arif Neky.
highlighting the history, progress and lessons
of the programme since its inception in 1986
Coastweek-- On Thursday, December 3, 2009, Madrasa Resource Centre, Kenya (MRC, K) celebrated the launch of its 25th anniversary publication.
The event was graced by honourable Chirau Ali Mwakwere, minister for Transport.
The publication, entitled “The Madrasa Early Childhood Programme: 25 years of experience”, was developed to highlight the history, progress and lessons of the programme since its inception in 1986.
It clearly details the development of the programme from a concept and its initial steps through to the strategic approach to early childhood development programming that exists today.
The book also enshrines the programme’s achievements over 25 years of implementation and demonstrates how it overcame key challenges.
The Minister recalled his success in school as a direct product of his pre-school years.
He fully endorsed the Madrasa Early Childhood Programme.
Other Key personalities present at the function included the Chief Kadhi, Sheikh Hammad M. Kassim, Mr. Arif Neky, the CEO Aga Khan Foundation East Africa, and the deputy Director of Basic Education, Mr.Mohammed Shaaban Digo.
The publication was officially launched by the minister in the colourful ceremony.
Providing guidelines for a transparent, successful and replicable approach to development, the publication makes a valuable contribution to communities and industry partners.
Madrasa Resource Centre, Kenya (MRC, K): a programme of the Aga Khan Foundation was established in 1986 after Muslim leaders from Kenya ’s coastal region recognised the need to improve their children’s level of academic achievement.
Research suggested that positive experiences in early years including access to education and a healthy, positive learning environment profoundly influenced children’s success in school and life.
MRC, K supports communities and builds their capacity to provide Early Childhood Development (ECD) services through locally owned pre-schools.
The schools in the Madrasa Programme practice action-oriented pedagogy where children learn through play, discovery and interaction.
MRC, K has partnered with more than 66 schools, training over 2000 teachers and celebrating over 25,000 alumni.
Novel approach to Early Childhood Education in Africa is creating a valuable legacy
Madrasa school students concentrate as their teacher helps them to write sentences in English. Photo: Courtesy of Shamim Murji
The English novelist Thomas Hardy would perhaps have titled my journey to Uganda The Return of the Native — after all, I was returning to Kaliro, Uganda, where I was born 38 years ago. My visit was of a dual purpose: I planned to visit all the places of my childhood, including my home and my schools, but I also wanted to give something back to the country where I grew up, which gave me so many invaluable memories.
The opportunity I had been waiting for arrived when I heard of the need for volunteer teachers at the Aga Khan Foundation Madrasa Resource Centre (MRC) in Kampala. I convinced my friend and colleague, Ann Jeffs, with whom I teach in Brampton, Ontario, to embark upon the trip with me. We were convinced that it was going to be an incredible experience which would fulfil Ann’s thirst to travel to Africa, and my longing to “return home.”
The Madrasa Pre-school Programme was launched by the AKF over 25 years ago in Kenya’s coastal region to help parents in marginalised communities improve the overall level of educational achievement of their children. Studies revealed that the problem of access to education as well as later learning achievement could be linked back to the early years, and AKF suggested that early childhood education might be the key.
Shamim Murji and Ann Jeffs meet Syda Bbumba, the Ugandan Minister of Finance, who was the chief guest at the 25th anniversary of the AKF Madrasa Programme. Photo: Courtesy of Shamim Murji
The Foundation worked with local educators, community leaders and parents to formulate a pilot project to set up the first madrasa preschools. The Programme subsequently became hugely successful and expanded into Tanzania and Uganda. The MRC is really the catalyst for implementation of the Early Childhood Education Programme. It is staffed with skilled preschool teacher trainers, community mobilisers, and mentoring and research officers from the region.
Kampala’s Madrasa Resource Centre is located in a beautiful building that was previously the Mengo Jamatkhana. It is enclosed within a large courtyard comprising exquisite tropical gardens with jacaranda, magnolia and hibiscus trees in full bloom. The Project Manager, Shafique Sekalala, and his team of Early Childhood Education facilitators were able to chart out a plan for us to visit approximately 15 schools in small village communities around Kampala. These were originally traditional Qur’anic schools, where AKF harmoniously blended in an early childhood education component that prepared the children to meet the competitive primary schools’ entrance requirements.
Each morning at around 8:00 AM, Bahdur, one of the MRC’s staff, drove us to the schools. His incredible driving skills helped us manoeuvre through Kampala’s most horrendous traffic jams and even worse potholes. We were fortunate to visit and work with teachers and students at so many schools.
A typical classroom at a Madrasa Programme school. Photo: Courtesy of Shamim Murji
The Madrasa Programme has several components that make this preschool programme unique: children learn through exploring, experimenting, discovering patterns and building positive relationships — with each other, with the teachers and within their communities. It also requires teachers to create a supportive learning environment rich with local materials such as beads, seeds, shells, maize cobs, bottle tops, sticks and stones. The materials are easily readily available and interesting to the children, while also serving as effective learning tools.
The teaching pedagogy in a Madrasa school can be compared with a preschool classroom in Canada. Having taught kindergarten in the Peel Board of Education in Ontario, I had fun immersing myself with the children at the various learning areas set up in each of the schools: a block area, book area, sand and water area, and shop and home areas.
There were usually three teachers who planned and taught together. These were motivated and enthusiastic women selected by their communities to train as Early Childhood Development teachers. Their training would later enable them to gain employment as teachers elsewhere, mainly in government schools where they would take their acquired Madrasa pedagogy with them.
Madrasa Programme teachers gather to prepare learning materials for their students and classrooms. Photo: Courtesy of Shamim Murji
There wasn’t a day that I was not moved by these women who genuinely demonstrated care, compassion and courage. The teachers worked long hours in often arduous conditions and were paid little or no salary. Their commitment stemmed from a desire to contribute towards the betterment of their communities by educating their children. I felt drawn to them professionally and emotionally. We became kindred spirits as we learned together to develop and strengthen our skills for teaching reading and numeracy strategies to young children.
Ann and I were in awe of all the women who showed up in their large numbers from afar to attend our workshops. Their passion, open-mindedness and zeal to be the best they can were truly inspiring and I feel privileged to have worked with these exemplary women.
AKF’s Madrasa Pre-school Programme is creating a magnificent legacy. Having witnessed its positive outcome on marginalised communities, I can confidently vouch for its success. The primary teachers from whom I inquired about the progress of the Madrasa students confirmed unanimously that they made a better transition than their peers and continue to perform well. This valiant project is making an extraordinary impact on the lives of Ugandan women and children, placing their destinies in their own hands.
Children prepare for snack time at an AKF Madrasa Programme preschool in Uganda. Photo: Courtesy of Shamim Murji
Aga Khan Foundation’s Madrasa Early Childhood Programme cited as an example of childhood development and education.
Governments across the region as well as civil society organisations and other development partners are increasing efforts to address this situation. One example is the Aga Khan Foundation’s Madrasa Early Childhood Programme. Over the years, it has provided quality pre-school services – both affordable and rooted in local culture– to more than 20,000 children from over 200 low-income communities in the region
"At the pre-school level, the report also highlights the work carried out by the Madrasa Resource Centre schools, developed by the Aga Khan Foundation. In these pre-schools, staff are given six months specialist training in early childhood development skills, as well as being supported in the use of locally available and low cost materials. Teachers are also trained in how to use a child’s local language to stimulate their curiosity and desire for learning."
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