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Opinions Sun, 7 Aug 2011

Saturday Classes and the Muslim School Child

The

Saturday Classes Dilemma: the sad case of the Muslim Student

INTRODUCTION

The average

Ghanaian child as we have been told by educationists over the years is being

unnecessarily burdened with a loaded curriculum at all levels of the

educational ladder. Indeed I dare say that is without doubt.

The least said the

better relative to challenges that have bedeviled our contemporary educational

system ranging from the quality of teachers, the physical school structure,

encumbered syllabus and government policies in that direction, yet another

fringe problem within the context of this write-up: Saturday Classes hounds

children.

THE PROBLEM:

EMBATTLED YOUTH

The Muslim

child is in perspective here because he/she is a very complex academic creature,

enduring five secular school days – Monday through to Friday – before having a

weekend schedule of showing up at Islamic School, (i.e. makaranta).

Here are Muslim

children and youth who MIRACULOUSLY (caps mine) blend two alien educational systems,

(for emphasis) systems that are miles apart, attend school hardly with any

breaks, an undoubtedly complex situation it has been and still is for many

Muslim children, a harsh reality; I call it.

Ordinarily, our

educational system is supposed to run for five school days as above indicated,

the concept of breaking school after five days was primarily to allow students

to have rest, in some cases to attend church services and prepare for another

five days schedule.

Apart from

weekends, students have national holidays; midterm breaks (usually a maximum of

three days) and vacations (long/short) as periods off mainstream academic work.

Off mainstream

academics for the simple reason that these periods have a certain element of

academics drafted into them by way of classes, which are to a large extent by

choice except for one which comes with a coercive effect, sadly so.

Saturday

classes like all other extra class sessions would most certainly have been

mooted on the premise of giving students a certain measure of academic aid

especially so with a very loaded curriculum as above reiterated.

What set out as

an academic helping hand to those who needed it is turning out to be

institutionalized as most schools clandestinely and surreptitiously hide behind

Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) to force children to show up for sixth school

day.

All the better

for public schools, who can barely flout the Ghana Education Services’

directive of no classes, the private school operators seem to be having a field

day, passing a caveat that these classes fees are even drafted into school

fees.

The question that

bugs the mind of many here is: if a teacher failed to impart into a child

within five school days, what real significance would the sixth and

conventionally informal school day do?

Indeed, what

this concept especially in the Junior and Senior High Schools have succeeded in

doing over the period and in some instances for that matter has been for

teachers to defer particular lessons to the Saturday class, threatening

students who dared to absent themselves.

Then again for

most private institutions, the concept has everything to do with the little

currencies (50p and above) that is demanded from students for the services of

the very busy and sacrificial teacher who could have other better things doing

I guess.

In all of this

the Muslim child is left to choose between Scylla and Charybdis, (i.e. between

the rock and a hard place) relative to whether he attends the sixth school day

or heads for the Islamic school.

It is at all

not funny when young siblings return from school with reports that they had

received varied degrees of punishments from lashes to being asked out of

particular lessons for the simple reason of not attending Saturday classes.

A subtle form

of this guerilla class sessions is of tertiary institutions and how lecturers

do consultancy with the time they are paid to lecture students then turn around

to ask that these students come to class at very odd times of the day: at dawn

and or deep into the night.

A PROGRESSIVE

WAY OUT

As progressive

Muslims, a blanket call for an end to Saturday classes isn’t the way to go as

is not the use of force to get children to abandon classes for makaranta, in

fact the latter would mean double jeopardy for the young Muslim who is left

wandering psychologically and wondering what step to take.

How do we help

young Muslims I guess is a question to ask: get them at a very young age to

appreciate the need for attending makaranta and as best as possible do this

conscientization effort with parents who stand as major power brokers in which

path a child eventually treks relative to the above topic.

When push comes

to shove either of these options should come to play: that they attend Islamic

school subsequent to which they would be given school lessons on particular

subject areas they were most likely to have missed.

The reverse

case is possible, that they go to school and are back just in time to be taught

their Islamic lessons, this ultimately means one thing; sacrifice on the part

of the students especially, parents and we Islamic school teachers. After all

it is only for the greater good that we all make sacrifices.

As Muslim

students (myself included) trudge along the academic path, we are faced with

way too many hurdles, some to be scaled at personal levels, others with

parental help and several others with the communal and religious strength: a

typical case in point is the Saturday Classes dilemma, which has left us with

none but a strategic outlook to the issue.

TANGENTIAL

ISSUES & CONCLUSION

Whatever stops

Muslims from calling for Friday school if not scrapped to be cut at least to a

half day in order to afford young Muslims the opportunity to honour their

weekly Jum’ah salat; remains a mystery to some of us.

We are

better-off as Muslims heeding the admonishment of the Almighty, when he said in

the Qur’an that we should hold on fast to his rope and not to disunite, like

the many other issues whose answers have eluded Muslims in Ghana, therein unity

lies that answer.

To quote the

word of Hajj Zagoon-Sayeed Haruna in his book; A Case of Social Re-engineering

for the Ghanaian Muslim Youth, “The worst enemy that confronts the Ghanaian

Muslim Ummah today is disunity, and the most wanted commodity for the community

is unity. Islam is unity and unity is Islam.” page 49.

Very well said

and right on point by the very learned sheikh, whose book is a must read and is

up for a review after we have concluded what is an interesting piece of

literature by all standards. May Allah bless efforts of Muslims the world over

at expanding the frontiers of this great faith.

Thanks for

taking time to read through our (Confidence Muslim Youth Association) thoughts

and we look forward feverishly to sharing a discourse platform either via email

on facebook or any such platforms.

© Abdur Rahman

Shaban Alfa (General Secretary of CMYA)

Personal email: alfarsenal@yahoo.com

Group email: confimya@yahoo.com, confimya@gmail.com

Facebook name:

Confidence Muslim Youth Association
Columnist: Alfa, Abdur Rahman Shaban