[lg policy] Fwd: Exam Factories

Dave Sayers dave.sayers at CANTAB.NET
Wed Sep 25 05:43:20 UTC 2013

I've never been sure why I receive circular emails from LSoI, and I certainly can't 
vouch for their authenticity or origin, but I thought I'd forward on the latest one. 
They're always fairly polemical, and this one ends with an interesting nod towards 
language policy...

(Note: I'm forwarding this to the list only as an 'interesting text'; I have no 
opinion about its content.)


Dr. Dave Sayers
Honorary Research Fellow, Arts & Humanities, Swansea University, UK
Visiting Lecturer (2013-14), Dept English, University of Turku, Finland
dave.sayers at cantab.net

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	Exam Factories
Date: 	Tue, 24 Sep 2013 22:47:36 +0100
From: 	Iftikhar <london_school_of_islamics at btinternet.com>
To: 	D.Martin <D.Martin at herts.ac.uk>

Exam Factories
Almost all children now believe they go to school to pass exams. The idea that they 
may be there for an education is irrelevant. Leading companies are struggling to 
recruit teenagers with basic skills because schools have been turned into “exam 
factories”, business leaders have warned. Many employers had been left “disheartened 
and downright frustrated” by poor levels of literacy, numeracy, communication and 
timekeeping among school leavers and graduates. Overemphasis on sitting exams and 
hitting targets throughout compulsory education had robbed children of the chance to 
develop the “soft” skills needed in the work place. Business leaders believed the 
emphasis on passing exams at school meant children failed to develop other skills, 
including the ability to hold a conversation, display good work ethic, turn upon time 
and apply basic literacy and numeracy.
State, independent and faith schools have become exam factories and are only 
interested in A to C Grades. They do not educate children. The result is that 
anti-social behaviour, gun and knife culture, racism, drug addiction. binge drinking, 
high rate of teenage pregnancies and abortions, high divorce rate are common in 
society. Exam results do not reflect a candidate’s innate ability. Employers have 
moaned for years that too many employees cannot read or write properly. According to 
a survey, school-leavers and even graduates lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. 
More and more companies are having to provide remedial training to new staff, who 
can’t write clear instructions, do simple maths, or solve problems. Both graduates 
and school-leavers were also criticised for their sloppy time-keeping, ignorance of 
basic customer service and lack of self-discipline.

Even Muslim schools have also become Exam Factories, only interested in A to C grades 
just like state schools. There is a positive co-relation between faith, culture and 
language. Faith needs culture and languages to flourish. According to a research, 
children who study the language and culture of their parents may achieve more and 
become more involved citizens. Migrant Muslims speak variety of languages. State 
schools as well as Muslim schools give lip service to the community languages but 
majority of Muslim schools completely ignore or discourage community languages. The 
ex- chairman of the Association of Muslim Schools Mr.Idrees Mears, a native revert 
totally rejects the teaching of Urdu and other languages. The same opinion was 
expressed by the head of state funded Islamia School as well as by the ex- Chairman 
of the Nida Trust. They are not in a position to understand the needs and demands of 
the bilingual children because they are themselves monolinguals. It is a well known 
fact that social and emotional education comes with ones own language, literature and 
poetry. Pakistani children suffer more than other children. They speak different 
languages at home and when they go to the Masajid they are exposed to Urdu and 
Arabic. At schools they are exposed to English and at the age of 11 are exposed to 
European languages. Now European languages are introduced at Primary level, but Urdu 
is totally ignored and discouraged by the state as well as by the Muslim schools. 
English, Arabic and Urdu must be introduced at nursery level so that the children can 
grow up with three languages. We have already lost three generation and the fourth 
one is in the process of losing its linguistic and cultural identity by not learning 
Urdu. The Muslim community is suffering because of social and cultural problems of 
high rate of divorce, run away young girls, low academic achievements, drug 
addiction, drinking, teenage pregnancies, disrespect for their parents and elders, 
forced marriages and honour killings. It is all because our youth are cut off from 
their cultural roots and languages. I blame state schools because they have never 
been serious in the teaching of Urdu, Arabic and other community languages.

An American research reveals in 2005 that bilingual learners with no education in 
their first language take longer to learn English and a bilingual learner with a good 
education in their own language do best of all. Muslim schools are committing the 
same mistake by ignoring community languages. Even OFSTED is not serious about the 
importance of bilingualism and bilingual education. Their priority is the teaching of 
English language. No body is denying the importance of English as an economic 
language but equally important is the first languages of the children for social and 
emotional literacy.

The Muslim community has been passing through a phase of fourth Crusades. The 
battleground is the field of education, where the young generation will be educated 
properly with the Holly Quran in one hand and Sciences in other hand to serve the 
British society and the world at large. A true Muslim is a citizen of the world, 
which has become a small global village. We are going to prepare our youth to achieve 
that objective in the long run. A true Muslim believes in Prophet Moses and the 
Prophet Jesus and without them one cannot be a Muslim. My suggestion is that in all 
state, independent and Christian based school special attention should be given to 
the teaching of Comparative Religion and Islam should be taught by qualified Muslim 
Teachers to make the children aware the closeness of Islam to Christianity and 
Judaism which will help them to think about Islam, as “A Pragmatic and Modern Way of 
Life,” during their life time.
British schooling and the British society is the home of institutional racism. The 
result is that Muslim children are unable to develop self-confidence and self-esteem, 
therefore, majority of them leave schools with low grades. Racism is deeply rooted in 
British society. Every native child is born with a gene or virus of racism, 
therefore, no law could change the attitudes of racism towards those who are 
different. It is not only the common man, even member of the royal family is involved 
in racism. The father of a Pakistani office cadet who was called a "***" by Prince 
Harry has profoundly condemned his actions. He had felt proud when he met the Queen 
and the Prince of Wales at his son's passing out parade at Sandhurst in 2006 but now 
felt upset after learning about the Prince's comments. Queen Victoria invited an Imam 
from India to teach her Urdu language. He was highly respected by the Queen but other 
members of the royal family had no respect for him. He was forced to go back to 
India. His portrait is still in one of the royal places.
Children should be taught about the contribution Muslims have made to civilisation in 
order to combat threats of extremism and discrimination. It will help native children 
to develop positive attitudes towards Muslims. It will bring divided communities 
closer together, by teaching children about debt west owe to Muslims - coffee and 
pinhole camera to the three - course dinner and advancement in maths. The teaching 
will bring together science, history,RE, citizenship and community cohesion - some of 
the most pressing problems for the minister responsible for the curriculum.One of the 
major reasons for the alienation of British Muslims is a lack of clear identity. It 
is crucial for the British society to understand the hugely positive impact that 
Islamic inventors have had upon the world, and for Muslims to take pride in it. At 
present there is a widespread mis-conception among many people worldwide that the 
state of science and technology during the period known as "The Dark Ages" was that 
of stagnation and decline. The Muslim civilisation flourished and contributed to 
thousands of essential inventions that still affect western life style. The open 
recognition of the contribution of the Muslims should be reflected in the National 
Curriculum. The mainstream history of scientific ideas has failed to acknowledge 
numerous Islamic scientists and their great efforts and achievements throughout the 
A report by the Institute for Community Cohesion found that native parents were 
deserting some schools after finding their children out numbered by pupils from 
ethnic minorities. Schools in parts of England are becoming increasingly segregated. 
The study focused on 13 local authorities. Many of the schools and colleges are 
segregated and this was generally worsening over recent years. This is RACISM because 
British society is the home of institutional racism. My statement regarding Muslim 
schools where there is no place for non-Muslim child or a teacher is based on 
educational process and not on racism. Muslim children need Muslim teachers during 
their developmental periods. For higher studies and research, Muslim teacher is not a 

I have been campaigning for Muslim schools since early 70s because there is no place 
for foreign cultures, languages and faiths in state schools. Muslim children are 
victim of racial abuse and discrimination. Neither Muslim community nor the DFE paid 
any attention to my proposal. Muslim community kept on setting up Masajid for 
worshiping and for the education of their children. Masajid help Muslim children to 
recite the Holy Quran without understanding and teach them how to perform their 
prayers. DFE introduced Multicultural education for the integration and assimilation 
of the Muslims.

I regard Muslim schools not just Faith schools but more or less bilingual schools. I 
set up the first Muslim school in Forest Gate London in 1981. Special attention was 
given to Standard English, Arabic and Urdu languages along with National Curriculum. 
But due to its closure, it could not become a model school for others to follow. 
Islamia School, founded by Yusuf Islam became the model school where there is no 
place for the teaching of Urdu and other community languages and only Arabic is taught.

The sound knowledge of ones owns language would appear to help – not hinder the 
acquisition of a second language and bilingual children may even have cognitive 
advantages and that the ability to speak more than one language is going to be 
increasingly important for the world of the future. Therefore, Muslim children and 
young Muslims have potentially a major educational advantage, although sadly this is 
not being developed well at present. British policy makers now recognise bilingualism 
as an educational asset rather than a problem. Education plays a central role in the 
transmission of languages from one generation to the next. The teaching of mother 
tongues is essential in terms of culture and identity. Arabic is a religious language 
for the Muslims but for Pakistanis, Urdu is also essential for culture and identity. 
Blind Muslim children in Bradford are learning to read Arabic and Urdu Braille, by a 
blind teacher who travelled from Pakistan. Now blind Muslim children are not going to 
miss out on culture, religion, language and the social aspects and integration into 
their own community and identity.

Majority of Muslim children are from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India They need to 
learn Arabic and Urdu to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty 
of their literature and poetry. Urdu is a lingua frankua of the Muslim communities 
from the sub-continent. The young generation learn Urdu from Indian/Pakistani films, 
more than two dozens TV Channels and couple of radio stations broadcasting round the 
clock in Urdu/Hindi. They can speak and understand but are unable to read and write 
Urdu literature and poetry. Bilingualism and bilingual education should be part and 
parcel of each and every Muslim school. The problem is that most of Muslim schools 
are running by British educated Muslims who are made monolinguals by state schools. 
They do not feel the charm of bilingualism. They have never been given the chance to 
learn Arabic and Urdu along with English. An English man is proud of his language, 
culture and faith or no faith. In the same way a Muslim should be proud of his faith, 
languages and cultures. In my opinion at least three hours a day must be given for 
the teaching of English, Arabic, Urdu and other community languages from nursery 
level. The teaching of Standard English will help them to follow the National 
Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity.

According to a recent report, Muslim schools performed best overall, although they 
constitute only a fraction of the country's 7000 schools. Muslim schools do well 
because of their Islamic ethos and a focus on traditional discipline and teaching 
methods. They teach children what is right and what is wrong, because young children 
need structured guidance.

Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be 
taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More 
faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in 
England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet 
the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has 
come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. 
Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the 
wealthy have in the private sector. Parents can perform a better job than the Local 
Authority because parents have a genuine vested interest. The Local Authority simply 
cannot be trusted.

The British Government is planning to make it easier to schools to “opt out” from the 
Local Authorities. Muslim children in state schools feel isolated and confused about 
who they are. This can cause dissatisfaction and lead them into criminality, and the 
lack of a true understanding of Islam can ultimately make them more susceptible to 
the teachings of fundamentalists like Christians during the middle ages and Jews in 
recent times in Palestine. Fundamentalism is nothing to do with Islam and Muslim; you 
are either a Muslim or a non-Muslim. Muslim children suffer from identity crises 
because their parents teach them Islam and their schools teach them something else. 
There must be a positive co-relation between school and home, otherwise, children 
will suffer academically, spiritually , socially and emotionally. They are also 
unable to develop self-confidence and self-esteem.

You better teach your children in your own schools and let migrant communities teach 
their children according to their needs and demands. British Establishment and 
society should concentrate on the evils of their own society and stop trying to 
change the way of life of Muslims. Muslim community does not want to integrate with 
the British society, indulging in incivility, anti-social behaviour, drug and knife 
culture, binge drinking, teenage pregnancies and abortion.  Prince Charles, while 
visiting the first grant maintained Muslim school in north London, said that the 
pupils would be the future ambassadors of Islam. But what about thousands of others, 
who attend state schools deemed to be "sink schools"? In education, there should be a 
choice and at present it is denied to the Muslim community. In the late 80s and early 
90s, when I floated the idea of Muslim community schools, I was declared a "school 
hijacker" by an editorial in the Newham Recorder newspaper in east London. This 
clearly shows that the British media does not believe in choice and diversity in the 
field of education and has no respect for those who are different. Muslim schools, in 
spite of meager resources, have excelled to a further extent this year, with couple 
of schools achieving 100% A-C grades for five or more GCSEs. They beat well resourced 
state and independent schools in Birmingham and Hackney.  Muslim schools are doing 
better because a majority of the teachers are Muslim. The pupils are not exposed to 
the pressures of racism, multiculturalism and bullying.

There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in 
majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. 
This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out 
balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality 
or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an 
understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a 
positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim 
parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children 
like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual 
Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand 
their needs and demands.

Iftikhar Ahmad

London School of Islamics Trust


This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list