Madrasahs finding a path in secular world

Madrasahs are learning institutions originally established through the efforts of Muslim philanthropists who arrived in Singapore during the early era of the British colony.

Among these were traders and seafarers who were active in doing business.

Aside from reaping profits, they always thought about how to give back to the Muslim community.

What the management of madrasahs needs to do is to strike a balance between religious studies and academic or secular subjects, so as not to overburden students unnecessarily.

Hence, a number of madrasahs, mosques and orphanages were built to cater to the needs of the society.

Madrasahs provide opportunities for Muslim children to acquire knowledge and guidance in Islamic studies.

Quite a number of their graduates have become successful entrepreneurs, community leaders as well as professionals.

In recent times, madrasahs have upgraded in order to be better equipped to provide a holistic education.

Thus, the curriculum covers various subjects that are equivalent to those in secular institutions.

In fact, there are also additional academic programmes to guide students towards better achievements.

Madrasahs are quite independent and are not totally in need of help ("More help for madrasah students"; last Friday).

What the management of madrasahs needs to do is to strike a balance between religious studies and academic or secular subjects, so as not to overburden students unnecessarily.

It needs to include skills learning, to ensure that graduates can be more independent as they strive towards securing an advantage for their future.

What is of utmost importance is to assist these institutions by making available qualified and experienced teachers.

However, this may be challenging for the authorities, partly because of the shortage of teaching staff.

Syed Alwi Altahir

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2015, with the headline 'Madrasahs finding a path in secular world'. Print Edition | Subscribe