The thorny question of faith schools will not go away. Every time there is a debate on this subject , the supporters and those who oppose it lock horns without reaching a conclusion.
It is not until you see it in reality that you realise how this system of education actually affects children.
In a programme shown on Channel 4 recently, the makers spent a year following two pupils in the Nottingham Islamia, a fee–paying Muslim school. They followed one white and one Pakistani Asian girl .
The white girl was, we were told in the beginning, of mixed parentage. But she was so milky white that it was hard to imagine that. She was so conscious of her red hair and so eager to hide her identity that she never took off her hijab.
Young Zara was sparkly and fun child. A seven year old who was so well versed in the teachings of the religion that she constantly referred to hell fire and damnation if the hijab was not worn.
It was an odd set up. The parents were quite liberal and they were sending the little girl to this school because the local comprehensive was no good. Her older sister went clubbing and had a reasonable amount of freedom. But this young girl was steeped into religion and constantly referred to her sister that “if she carried on like this” she will burn in the hell fire!
Growing up in a secular western country, this little girl was no doubt behaving very differently from the other girls of her age. And so were the others in that school.
They dressed very differently and their teachings constantly reminded them of the dire consequences otherwise. It was quite depressing that she was at a school which put so much emphasis on hell fire.
I wondered if only girls were taught this way, so that they will not seek much personal freedom, or the men too are threatened as much for the consequences of their actions.
I have never fully understood the concept of faith schools. Looking at the reality I was taken aback as to how segregating the atmosphere was from mainstream society.
The girls are often encouraged to marry as teenagers. I wonder how much encouragement is given to them to have careers than become just pious and dutiful mothers and wives ?
Having had not idea before of the actual workings of a faith school, I was quite dismayed to see how much indoctrination was going on.
I wondered if these girls were going to be prepared for the challenges of the future, or were they going to give in to forced-marriages and other injustices, just to avoid the hell fire they so much talked about?
I have not seen or experienced such education before, am sure those of you who have the experience will be infavour of such schools ,and will tell me,I have an open mind.But what I did watch the other day,did not give me much hope.
Perhaps you will tell me differently.