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Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 18:20 GMT
Pros and cons of faith schools
HARDtalk looks at the single faith schools debate
HARDtalk looks at the single faith schools debate
The head of an Islamic school in London says increasing the number of state-funded single faith schools could prevent the recurrence of last summer's race riots in the north west of England.

Abdullah Trevathan, who runs the Islamia School in North London, said a greater number of state-funded Muslim schools in Bradford would help improve race relations.

"My belief is that if there were a Muslim school, state funded, voluntary aided, [Muslim children] would have confidence, they would have self-esteem and we would not be seeing young men in riots," he said, speaking with Tim Sebastian for the BBC's HARDtalk programme.


The boys who were rioting in Bradford are coming out of schools from the state system.

Abdullah Trevathan
There are currently 48 independently funded faith based schools and one state funded Muslim college for girls in Bradford.

More than half the children in the inner city state schools in Bradford are Muslim.

"The boys who were rioting in Bradford are coming out of schools from the state system," the headteacher said.

Unrest

Last year, Bradford had some of the worst scenes of race rioting seen on mainland Britain in recent years.

Around 260 police officers were hurt when Asian and white youths clashed.

Around 260 police officers were injured in the Bradford riots
Around 260 police officers were injured in the Bradford riots
Executive Director of the National Secular Society, Keith Porteous Wood, who also took part in the HARDtalk interview, disagreed with Mr Trevathan.

He said single faith schools left children unequipped to deal with life in mainstream Britain.

"If they are moving from restricted communities into a single faith school, they have very little contact with those from the majority community.

"And then suddenly, when they are 16 they come out into the majority community for the first time and into the workplace. I'm worried about the implications of that," he said.

He also expressed concern that children taught at a single faith school could adopt a particular religious belief as "fact", and said this would essentially result in "brainwashing."

Discrimination

Mr Wood added: "I certainly think there is a tendency for religions of single faith schools to say this is our faith, we are better than others, implicitly if not explicitly."

Race rioting in Bradford caused widespread destruction
Race rioting in Bradford caused widespread destruction
Mr Trevathan denied such discrimination and said state schools were funding "cultural diversity."

He also argued that single faith schools were doing much better than their secular equivalent with 11 faith based primary schools in London rated amongst the top 100 in the country.

Mr Wood attributed this academic success to the fact that faith schools were able to cherry pick successful candidates and did not have a wide cross section of special needs students.

He said religion should be a "private" matter and "shouldn't be subsidised by the state."

However Mr Trevathan contradicted Mr Wood's viewpoint, suggesting that single faith schools should be available to everyone in the UK.

"People wish to have their own culture and religious identity reflected within the education system," he said.

You can hear the HARDtalk interview in full at the following times:

BBC News 24 (times shown in GMT)
6 February 0430, repeated 2230

BBC World (times shown in GMT)
6 February 0430, repeated 1130, 1630, 1930, 0030

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 ON THIS STORY
Abdullah Trevathan
"The boys who were rioting in Bradford are coming out of schools from the state system."


Background

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See also:

12 Dec 01 | Education
Divisions over faith schools
10 Jul 01 | Education
Schools told to teach tolerance
01 Jul 01 | UK
Success for Asian festival
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