‘For China’s Muslim schools, a balancing act”

An interesting article from The Hindu about Islamic education in Ningxia:

For the Ningxia Islamic College’s 420 students, lessons can often be confusing.

During their morning classes, the students, all from China’s 10 million-strong Hui Muslim minority group, recite verses from the Koran and study Arabic.

When afternoon lessons resume, after prayers, their teachers shift tack: the students pore over Chinese textbooks on Socialist theory, learning about capital, labour and Communist Party philosophy.

In the Islamic college in Yinchuan, teachers said their priority was to ensure that students placed “patriotism over religion”. “Love your country, love religion,” reads a sign at the entrance of the college.

“The country comes first, and then your religion. That is our message,” said Mr. Ma.

China’s five “autonomous regions”, which include Ningxia, Xinjiang and Tibet, are home to most of the 55 minority ethnic groups. They are allowed to set up their own education systems under the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law.

In practice, policies are set by Beijing and directed by local Communist Party secretaries, who hold more power than their government counterparts, said teachers and officials in both regions.

In most primary and middle schools in Ningxia, Huis do not study the Koran or learn Arabic. “We are only allowed Koran study once we are in college,” said one Hui student at the Yinchuan college.

All this meddling, despite the fact that the Hui are extremely well-integrated with Chinese society.

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Filed under education, Islam, religion

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