Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Isolated Muslim schools?

A common cry from commentators is the isolation of the Muslim community and its unwillingness to ‘integrate’. Isolation occurs in many parts of Australian society far less than in the Muslim community. The good folks of Camden are determined to remain isolated from a multicultural community and to decide ‘who lives here’. They are deliberately choosing to remain isolated and to segregate themselves from the rest of Australian society. Muslim schools are incorrectly regarded as being isolated, despite the extensive amount of time that they spend in other schools debating, competing in sport, and engaging in a wide range of academic and social activities. Under the Howard government Muslim schools were subjected to intense scrutiny of their values, religious teachings and demonstrated interaction with wider society.
Other schools however, can choose to remain isolated whether they are in the public or the private system. There are many public schools located in wealthy northern or eastern parts of Sydney that have very limited exposure to other cultures, religions or ways of life, particularly the lives of the less well off. Students in these areas sometimes represent a monoculture holding a prejudicial attitude towards Aboriginies, Muslims, and migrants in general. Probably the greatest sense of isolation though exists between urban and rural schools - and communication between these would certainly be challenging.

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