|Message ||Children from minority groups, especially the Muslims, are exposed to the pressure of racism, multiculturalism and bullying. They suffer academically, culturally and linguistically: a high proportion of children of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are leaving British schools with low grades or no qualification.
In the 1980s, the Muslim community in Britain started to set up Muslim schools. The first was the London School of Islamics which I established and which operating from 1981-86. Now there are 133 schools educating approximately 5% Muslim pupils. Very few schools are state funded.
The needs and demands of Muslim children can be met only through Muslim schools, but education is an expensive business and the Muslim community does not have the resources to set up schools for each and every child, and only eight Muslim schools have achieved grant maintained status.
This leaves a majority of children from Muslim families with no choice but to attend state schools. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models.
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"?
The time has come for the Muslim community - in the form of Islamic charities and trusts - to manage and run those state schools where Muslim pupils are in the majority. The Department for Education would be responsible for funding, inspection and maintenance.
The management would be in the hands of educated professional Muslims. The teaching of Arabic, Islamic studies, Urdu and other community languages by qualified Muslim teachers would help the pupils to develop an Islamic identity, which is crucial for mental, emotional and personality development.
In the east London borough of Newham, there are at least 10 state schools where Muslim pupils are in the majority.
The television newscaster Sir Trevor McDonald is a champion of introducing foreign modern languages even at primary level in schools in Britain. The Muslim community would like to see Arabic, Urdu and other community languages introduced at nursery, primary and secondary schools along with European languages so that Muslim pupils have these options.
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 two 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.
London School of Islamics Trust