05 SES 08, Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education .
Since World War II many Muslims have come to North-West Europe; their estimated number now is 15 million (Pew, 2011). Three main categories can be discerned: immigrants from former colonies, guest-workers, and refugees. Although they share one religion, the internal diversity of Islam is considerable (Maliepaard, 2012). The receiving countries have reacted very differently to the demands and needs of Muslims, reflecting the unique historical, cultural and political contexts of each nation (Shah, 2012). The formal opportunity structures and actual practices for the recognition and accommodation of Islam also vary with regard to education (OSI, 2007). In France, for instance, there is a strict separation between state and church, and no religious instruction can be organized in primary schools. Some countries, such as Austria and Belgium, offer Islamic instruction in school, while others, like Germany, (in principle) allow the establishment of Muslim schools, and still others, such as Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK, partly or fully finance some or all Muslim schools (Euro-Islam.Info, 2013).
The Netherlands is a rather unique example of how a state reacts to Muslim requests for educational accommodation. Some 5 percent or 825,000 of the Dutch population is Muslim, mostly of Turkish or Moroccan origin. In primary education there are 86,000 Turkish and Moroccan pupils. A leading principle in the Dutch context is the freedom of education, which implies that anyone is free to establish a school and to determine the religious, philosophical and pedagogical principles of the teaching. In addition to public, Protestant and Catholic schools, there also are Islamic, Hindu, Jewish, Montessori and Jenaplan schools. The freedom of education includes the right to equal funding. This means that once they have been recognized all schools regardless their denomination are fully financed by the Ministry of Education (Driessen & Van der Slik, 2001).
In the course of years many Muslim parents had become dissatisfied with the education offered to their children. There are two reasons for this. In the first place, they felt that in the regular schools there was not enough attention paid to Islam: there was no Islamic instruction, there were no possibilities to pray and fast, there were no clothing regulations, and the children had to learn about reproduction. In the second place, it soon became apparent that the Muslim children achieved far below their native-Dutch peers. Following from this are two goals for Islamic schools:
- providing education in the spirit of Islam, and
- improving the children’s educational opportunities (Merry & Driessen, 2009).
In 1988, the first 2 Islamic primary schools were established. In 2013 there were 43 schools with a total of 9,300 pupils. The founding of Islamic schools by no means was an easy endeavor. There was a lot of resistance from the municipalities; the school boards had little or no experience; it was difficult to attract experienced teachers; there were no qualified religious instruction teachers; there was considerable negative attention in the media, especially since September 11; there have been several cases of mismanagement and fraud by the school boards; there are doubts regarding the pupils’ educational achievement and ultimately their integration into Dutch society ((Buijs, 2009; Denessen, Driessen & Sleegers, 2005; Dwyer & Meyer, 1996; Merry, 2007).
This paper seeks to answer two questions:
- what are the main characteristics of Islamic primary schools in the Netherlands?
- what are the cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes of these schools and how do these compare to outcomes of schools with the same pupil population and with the average Dutch primary school?
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