UCL offers first university course for imams
31 August 2006, BRUSSELS — Despite declaring Belgium is not ready for the establishment of a fully-fledged Islamic theological faculty, UCL will offer the nation's first university-level course for imams in the coming academic year.
31 August 2006
BRUSSELS — Despite declaring Belgium is not ready for the establishment of a fully-fledged Islamic theological faculty, UCL will offer the nation's first university-level course for imams in the coming academic year.
UCL (Université Catholique de Louvain) will offer the imam training in co-operation with the Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis and the Haute Ecole Galilée.
The course will be offered in the first semester of the 2006-07 academic year and will be subsidised by the French Community's Education Minister, Marie-Dominique Simonet.
The minister recently allocated EUR 300,000 for permanent training, which would include aspects of multiculturalism.
There are already training and education courses for imams and Islamic teachers in Belgium, but these are all private courses.
In Ghent, for example, the Islamic University of Europe will be established in the coming academic year.
The 'university' is a part of an initiative from the Dutch city of Schiedam and therefore a 'branch' of a private Dutch initiative that has given itself the term 'university'.
In the Francophone region of Belgium, there are four private initiatives, while in Flanders, the Erasmus College offers teaching courses to Islamic teachers.
UCL professor Felice Dassetto said despite the fact the university is not offering a fully-fledged university-degree course, the training offered in the coming academic year is "an important step".
"It is the first time that a high-level Islamic theology course will take place entirely within a university environment," Dassetto said.
Though the course will give students the right to a diploma, it does not mean that UCL will pit the new course against existing studies, such as Islamics.
"This pilot project gives permanent training to imams, to Islamic teachers, to responsible people from society."
The project is also a way to examine other problems that will develop if a fully-fledged Islamic faculty is established in Belgium.
It will answer questions such as how to represent various movements within Islam, which foreign professors should be invited to teach and should Muslims select the professors or the university?
In this aspect, UCL is working in co-operation with the Muslim Executive and existing Muslim training institutes. But UCL will retain a dominant position in deciding pedagogy, course content and teachers.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news