Education

New Independent School in the Middle East

As a part of the dominant culture’s changes upon the local inhabitants, the colonial authorities often enforced mandatory modern education for all children within a given age range. In the modern world, it is common for children to attend compulsory education centers beginning at approximately age 5 or 6 and continuing through the primary levels, meaning through age 11 or 12. This means that they are required to attend school when between these ages. Some countries also enforce school attendance through the lower secondary grades to age 15 or 16 although the school is available to students through age 17 or 18. The enforcement of an education was not as much of a change in the Middle East as might be thought by outside interests primarily because they had already established Koranic schools. However, instead of being a means of finding common ground, this alternative system was in competition with the colonial one not only because of its religious reference but also because of its opposition to Western cultural hegemony (Akkari, 2004). Within the Muslim society, a school intended for religious enlightenment has a sharply different role than school intended for modern development of the culture. The primary role of the Koranic school is to educate children in their proper, traditional roles and to enforce upon them the beliefs of their parents and ancestors. The Koranic school, with lessons in Arabic by a teacher of religion known as Malam, Fakih, is an essential part of the upbringing of a Muslim child (Akkari, 2004).

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