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Islam instruction in state-funded schools: what is at stake?
Start date: Dec 1, 2010,

No question of public policy or of social justice in Europe today is more pressing than the successful integration of that portion of the population deriving from predominantly-muslim countries. For millions, a continuing or revived identification with islamic beliefs and practices may serve as a means of walling themselves and their children off from the host society. Or, more positively, it could serve as a bridge to participation in that society. Whether the outcome is separation or integration will depend to a significant extent on how Islam and its relation to European life are presented in both state and non-state denominational schools.Oversight of such programs is provided by government inspectors and other officials, while experienced directors and teachers may have only a superficial understanding of the interaction of Islam and the West, and of international norms for freedom of religious expression within an expectation of respect for human rights. This may result in unsympathetic and officious intervention or a failure to note the alienating effects of inappropriate instruction.The proposed project contains 3 elements: (a) consultation with experts in the LLP countries on the present state of instruction about Islam in schools at the compulsory education level, including state schools, schools with a Christian identity, and schools with an islamic identity. It will draw upon research done by researchers in a previous European IP project; (b) publication of the reports, comparative analysis, synthetic report, recommendations for the development of norms for the optimal regulation of such instruction, consistent with requirements of respect for human rights and freedom of conscience in national and international law; and (c) a conference for members of the school inspectorate in LLP countries, representatives from European networks of teachers' unions, equality bodies, independent education providers, and policymakers.

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