An advert published by Capita (a recruitment company) read “Male Science Teacher” for cover lessons.
Why Male? Because it was for a Muslim school for Boys.
There is an increasing issue with gender segregation and Islam in the UK. The fact of the matter is that gender segregation has gone on for a long time in Islamic society. There are arguments against it within Islam but they are a small number. The bulk of Muslim society seems to think segregation is the key. Now in theory this means separate and equal, but in practice this means women generally get the short end of the stick as seen in the lectures in Islamic Societies at University where women effectively didn’t get to participate as openly as men or were made to sit at the back unless they came as a group with men.
There is a simple rule. If your religious belief is against the secular values of the day and the greater society it makes you in the wrong. You may believe that women should do as they are told but you may not practice it. Yes, we are stifling your religious belief but that is because we have realised women are equal to men and that your ideas about women are not correct.
This latest issue comes after the events at the Al-Madinah school in Derby which is under scrutiny for forcing staff and female students to wear headscarves and follow strict Islamic practices even when not Muslim. This is anti-thetical to the free expression of religion in the UK and the values of our secular society. You may choose to wear a pasta strainer on your head, but you cannot force others to do so. If your culture forces the wearing of pasta strainers then your culture is not a moral one.
And I apply this to all compulsory things. The Burkha and Hijab and yes even the male version.
I do not like the fact that Sikhs HAVE to keep their hair long and wear beards. I think it is oppressive and that you are not magically a better Sikh simply for those things. The Turban may not be as limiting as the Burkha and the culture that accompanies it but it’s still a limit.
There is a lack of awareness of the functioning, standard of education and equality within Islamic schools and this is harming the next generation of Muslim children. It is perpetrating a cycle of ignorance. That rather than educate, these schools exist to confirm religion and with the lack of oversight we are aware of radicalisation of Muslim children by “trusted” members of the community.
In effect it is a black hole. An area where we don’t know what’s going on. I think allowing ANY religious school is an exercise in divisiveness, a method by which we start delineating our children along the lines of which imaginary being their parents subscribe to and what superstitions they must be taught. But unlike the Church of England whose religious education is mild or the Roman Catholic Church who generally don’t try and convert non-Catholics anymore in the UK… The Islamic Schools seem to repeatedly draw fire by doing things that are divisive.
Being male isn’t a requirement for science or teaching. I do not think religious customs should dictate what our education system should teach or what it shouldn’t teach. If we accommodate gender segregation then whatever the wrong gender is will be discriminated. In addition we will create a system where children are not exposed to role models of both genders and will assume some fields are “not for people of their gender”.
Kids in such systems don’t learn the skills and the ethos needed to live in a non-discriminatory society. An education is not just knowledge but ethics too. We have unconscious biases and some of these are created by religious culture. This sort of thing is part of Islam’s entrenched sexism.
And the more separate this sexism is allowed to be, the more entrenched it gets.
I do not think it’s healthy to segregate by religious belief. I feel it creates adults who cannot deal with differences. I feel that such schools are designed not to educate but to inculcate religion. I feel such schools do not teach kids to be part of a unified society but to be different and separate.