London School of Islamics
An Educational Trust
63 Margery Park Road London E7 9LD
Tel/Fax: 0208 555 2733 / 07817 112 667
An Open letter to Mr. Graham Lane
Leader of the Local Education Authorities of England
Teaching and learning of foreign languages is not a priority in the British education system. State schools are reluctant to teach foreign languages. Only 3% of Britain has knowledge of a foreign language. The first wave of immigrants arrived with two or three languages but their children born and educated can only speak English in local accents. Community languages have never been taken seriously.
Mr. Graham Lane said in a conference on teaching of foreign languages that schools must teach foreign languages at the age of three. Every teacher should learn a foreign language. The monolingual approach of UK is unacceptable in the modern world. Language teaching in schools should be treated with the same determination as the literacy and numeracy strategies and should begin in pre-school and infant classes. The diversity of languages is crucial for understanding in a world which is increasingly mobile. Already three quarters of the people in the world are bilingual but British education system is reluctant to take bilingualism seriously.
Muslim community has been campaigning for the teaching of Arabic and Urdu languages in state schools for a long time but not a single LEA has taken this issue seriously. The result is that the young generation of Muslims is unable to speak, read and understand newspapers, literature and poetry in Arabic and Urdu. They are cut off from their cultural roots making them mis-fit for their own community. They suffer from Identity Crises. They have lost the sense of belongingness. Muslim teachers can be recruited from abroad for the teaching of Arabic and Urdu and at the same time they can help Muslim children in math, sciences and other subjects in the classroom in their own language.
Mr. Graham Lane is the chairman of the Education Committee of London Borough of Newham. Charity begins at home. He should put his words into practice. He should introduce the teaching and learning of Arabic and Urdu languages in all nursery, infant, primary and secondary schools for Muslim pupils as a matter of priority.
Newham has also decided to give half day off a week to teachers in certain schools from September and if this experiment is successful than all teachers will get half day off from next year. It will give teachers more time to prepare lessons. Friday is a Holy day for the Muslims. It is obligatory for Muslims to attend Friday congregational prayers in Masajid. Muslim teachers should be given half a day off on every Friday after noon so that they can also perform their prayers in the Masajid as well as prepare lessons. The move will pave a way for a better understanding between the host community and Muslim community and improve race relations which are at the bottom for the time being.