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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Muslims launch school books drive
Copies of the Koran and other Muslim texts in an Islamic school
Books on Islam are going into British schools
Muslim leaders are launching a new drive to teach British schoolchildren about the true meaning of Islam.

The initiative, backed by the Education Secretary, Charles Clarke, will see books on Islam going into schools nationwide.

Organisers hope it will help overcome barriers to how non-Muslims understand the faith.

And Mr Clarke said the project would help strengthen a multi-faith, multi-cultural society.

The "Books for Schools" resource packs include books, videos and CDs.

It aims to inform debate among both teachers and pupils and is designed to fit into Key Stages 1 and 2 of religious education - primary schooling.

Revelation and sacred text
Islam through the arts
Charity and social responsibilities
The significance of prayer
Fasting and sacrifice
Pilgrimage and festivals
Most of the pack focuses on group work where pupils use the materials to learn more about the key pillars of Islam and the tenets of Muslim life.

The scheme has the backing of educationalists in many areas, who had approached the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to help with their teaching on Islam.

Islam appears in the national curriculum as part of teaching on world religions.

But many Muslims say schools do not provide non-Muslims a sufficiently detailed introduction to how the practicalities of the faith, such as ritual charitable giving and fasting. Many schools also rely on materials which are outdated, they say.

They hope the new packs, which cost 250 each, aim to change that and follow a similar scheme introduced in the United States.

'Better understanding'

Charles Clarke said he supported the scheme's aims.

"It is only through understanding that this country can move forward as a true multi-faith and multicultural society," said Mr Clarke.

"We must ensure children grow up with a better understanding of their friends and neighbours.

"The Muslim Council of Britain's initiative, books for schools, brings us much closer towards that goal."

Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the MCB, said education was "the key" to creating a vibrant and understanding society.

"These resources, developed by our educationalists, aim to overcome the barriers to the teaching of Islam experienced by so many of our teachers by making available creative, engaging and child-friendly resources on Islam and Muslims.

"Effective RE teaching and learning plays a positive role in a child's spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Books for Schools provides resources on Islam to deliver this part of the curriculum effectively."

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