Dutch launch curriculum on Islam

11th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

11 September 2007, AMSTERDAM (dpa) - As of the current school year all Dutch primary schools will have access to an official teaching curriculum about Islam for pupils aged four to 12.

11 September 2007

AMSTERDAM (dpa) - As of the current school year all Dutch primary schools will have access to an official teaching curriculum about Islam for pupils aged four to 12.

The new curriculum, the first of its kind in the Netherlands, was officially presented in the As Soeffah primary school in Amsterdam on Monday.

The method was developed by the Foundation for Teaching Methods (SLO) and the Board of Islamic Schools Organisation (ISBO), an umbrella organisation of 42 Muslim schools in the Netherlands.

This school year all 42 ISBO schools as well as four other Islamic schools in the Netherlands will begin to use the new study material. Public primary schools can also request that the textbooks be used, in accordance with the wishes of parents.

The ISBO stresses that the teaching method is aimed not only at children studying at Muslim schools, but also at Muslim and non-Muslim children at public schools.

The new teaching method is seen as particularly important because Muslim teachers have so far been compiling their own teaching material.

Previously, textbooks were authored by conservative religious leaders from other parts of the world.

In 2002, the Dutch intelligence service said in a report that it was worried about the influence of fundamentalist Muslim organisations on Dutch Muslim schools.

The report encouraged former education minister Maria van der Hoeven to develop an official Dutch teaching curriculum about Islam.

The new Dutch material consists of four text books for grades 1-8, set in the context of Dutch society.

"It is aimed at integrating Islam in Dutch society," ISBO interim director Yassin Hartog told reporters. "The values we convey are similar to those of the Dutch constitutional state."

The new method reportedly teaches children to renounce the idea of Muslim exclusivism. Instead, it gives insight into the position of Islam among other faiths.

The textbooks contain information about the Muslim prophet Mohammed, explain the basics of being a proper Muslim and various Muslim customs and ideas.

The textbooks also deal with issues like the Hadj or pilgrimage to Mecca, the month of Ramadan and the head covering for women and girls.

"Our textbooks do not tell children: all Muslims wear head covering," Hartog said, "We say: Muslim girls wear head scarves, but may also choose not to."

The ISBO said it is already preparing the next part of the series, which deals with topics including sexuality and homosexuality.

[Copyright dpa 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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