- Category: General
Johannesburg - Foreign children attending school in South Africa have been affected by the recent xenophobic attacks, the National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa) said on Monday.
"Learners have also been unsettled by the violence and some foreign nationals learners have been intimidated," said Naptosa president Basil Manuel.
Teaching was also disrupted in some schools, as some foreign nationals teaching in South Africa were afraid to report for duty amid the violent attacks which have claimed the lives of at least six people.
Manuel said it was mostly schools in Pietermaritzburg and Durban that were affected.
"We understandably saw several absentees from foreign teachers who are mostly from Zimbabwe on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday," said Manuel.
He said the organisation was shocked by the attacks and called on teachers to condemn the violence and law enforcement officials to take action.
He called on schools to protect foreign national teachers.
"[We] appeal to all teachers to use the power of education to fulfil their role as national-builders and inculcate a culture of tolerance, acceptance and respect for all people irrespective of nationality, race, colour, culture or religious faith," Manuel said.
He appealed to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to ensure that security was intensified in schools in areas of conflict.
Naptosa would support schools and teachers affected by the attacks, Manuel said.
- Category: General
Vodacom introduced its education portal called Vodacom e-school at Riet Valley Combined School, KwaZulu Natal. The Vodacom e-school serves as a learning platform with Internet access to education content sites for all grades 10-12 high school South African learners.
Through Vodacom’s e-school, learners who are Vodacom subscribers will now be able to access classroom content, which is curriculum aligned on their mobile device across all major subjects for free, as Vodacom has zero rated browsing on the site for its customers.
Vodacom executive head for corporate citizenship, Suraya Hamdulay says: “We know that many learners in our country often do not have access to learning material such as textbooks, which makes excelling at school more difficult. Through the Vodacom e-school platform, we can help address this challenge.
She says: “As an investor in the country and partner of the Department of Basic Education, our goal is to ensure that learners throughout the country have access to some basic tools to help enhance their learning outside of the classroom.”
All that users need do is visit Vodacom.co.za/e-school from their cell phone, tablet or laptop to register. Thereafter, they will enjoy unlimited access to education content. For those who are not customers of Vodacom, data charges will be incurred for logging on to the site.
Hamdulay says: “Most learners have access to cell phones, laptops or tablets in one way or another, but may not have adequate data. Having free access to our education content portal will now help remove the barriers to e-learning.
“Learners can now complete lessons from their school syllabus, to help them improve their marks. They can also track their progress and see how they are performing compared to other students in a fun, easy and interactive way.
Source: SA-The Good News
- Category: General
Giving preference to additional school lessons and extra mural activities over Madressah education is akin to favouring the Dunya over the Akhirah. These were the sentiments of a senior South African Mufti, commenting on the lack of enthusiasm amongst some learners in pursuing a primary Maktab education.
Speaking to Cii Radio's Ulama in Focus recently, Mufti Seraj Desai asserted the important role that parents needed to play in prioritising their children's Islamic educational requirements. Acknowledging the scarcity of learning time and the complicated trade-offs expected from parents and learners alike, he nonetheless argued that the contesting demands of the schooling system notwithstanding, parents could still ensure a fruitful Madressah experience for their children, provided that they acknowledged the critical role of Islamic education and provided the necessary support structures.
"We have to admit that academic pressure today is steep, schools are extending their learning hours and this does indeed pose challenges for learners who have limited time to commute, eat and come to Madressah. To compound the situation we sometimes have the need for additional lessons and demands to participate in extra mural activities such as sports."
The proliferation of these additional activities, which extend beyond school hours, is increasingly placing a strain on Maktab education, which in South Africa has traditionally taken place during the afternoons. Absenteeism or late-coming is common, and many private Madaaris with more flexible operating hours have now mushroomed.
Still, the Port Elizabeth based Aalim believes a solution to the problem is not farfetched. He contends that a lack of understanding of the objectives of the maktab from parents or sometimes even plain disinterest are the main factors feeding the trend. Parents, he argues, need to re-assess the goals they set for their children.
"We can sympathise with parents regarding additional tuition – they fear that if their children do not solicit this help, their results will take a knock. We can't run away from this fact: every parent who has a school-going child, has some or the other goal in mind. Most of the time these goals are financially motivated, and it is unfortunate that these goals seem to have overshadowed everything else, even our Deen."
He says additional tuition, where necessary, should not be abandoned. As a compromise, he advocates that parents come up with innovative ways of making up for lessons that are lost."The only way this can be achieved is by significant interaction between parent and Ustaad – meeting the Asaatizah regularly and discussing strategies of improving the Maktab education of the child."
In addition to facilitating academic progress for the child, Desai says providing enrichment classes at home can also reap benefits for parents themselves. "We know of parents who improved their Quranic recitation simply by working with their children. They also gain education that they themselves may have not acquired previously"
The respected Mufti said parents always had the best interests of their children at heart. However, exaggerated sympathy for their offspring, he said, should not come at the expense of their Islamic education.
"If our children still have time for computer games and TV even during school days, with the situation worsening at weekends – unnescesary and sometimes unIslamic activities – this is where the responsibility of parents come in. Set aside those (misplaced) feelings of sympathy towards the child. When it comes to schoolwork, there is no sympathy there – you will not allow a child to stay absent for a single day, if a child has not completed his/her homework you will ensure that they stay up for as long as the work takes to complete, but tragically this is not the same when it comes to Maktab work."
He suggested that parents make a firm commitment to their children's Islamic education and explore the possibility of evening or weekend classes to make up for the lost time.
- Category: General
From coffee to cheques and the three-course meal, the Muslim world has given us many innovations that we take for granted in daily life. As a new exhibition opens, Paul Vallely nominates 20 of the most influential- and identifies the men of genius behind them
1 The story goes that an Arab named Khalid was tending his goats in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia, when he noticed his animals became livelier after eating a certain berry. He boiled the berries to make the first coffee. Certainly the first record of the drink is of beans exported from Ethiopia to Yemen where Sufis drank it to stay awake all night to pray on special occasions. By the late 15th century it had arrived in Mecca and Turkey from where it made its way to Venice in 1645. It was brought to England in 1650 by a Turk named Pasqua Rosee who opened the first coffee house in Lombard Street in the City of London. The Arabic qahwa became the Turkish kahve then the Italian caffé and then English coffee.
2 The ancient Greeks thought our eyes emitted rays, like a laser, which enabled us to see. The first person to realise that light enters the eye, rather than leaving it, was the 10th-century Muslim mathematician, astronomer and physicist Ibn al-Haitham. He invented the first pin-hole camera after noticing the way light came through a hole in window shutters. The smaller the hole, the better the picture, he worked out, and set up the first Camera Obscura (from the Arab word qamara for a dark or private room). He is also credited with being the first man to shift physics from a philosophical activity to an experimental one.
3 A form of chess was played in ancient India but the game was developed into the form we know it today in Persia. From there it spread westward to Europe - where it was introduced by the Moors in Spain in the 10th century - and eastward as far as Japan. The word rook comes from the Persian rukh, which means chariot.
4 A thousand years before the Wright brothers a Muslim poet, astronomer, musician and engineer named Abbas ibn Firnas made several attempts to construct a flying machine. In 852 he jumped from the minaret of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba using a loose cloak stiffened with wooden struts. He hoped to glide like a bird. He didn't. But the cloak slowed his fall, creating what is thought to be the first parachute, and leaving him with only minor injuries. In 875, aged 70, having perfected a machine of silk and eagles' feathers he tried again, jumping from a mountain. He flew to a significant height and stayed aloft for ten minutes but crashed on landing - concluding, correctly, that it was because he had not given his device a tail so it would stall on landing. Baghdad international airport and a crater on the Moon are named after him.
5 Washing and bathing are religious requirements for Muslims, which is perhaps why they perfected the recipe for soap which we still use today. The ancient Egyptians had soap of a kind, as did the Romans who used it more as a pomade. But it was the Arabs who combined vegetable oils with sodium hydroxide and aromatics such as thyme oil. One of the Crusaders' most striking characteristics, to Arab nostrils, was that they did not wash. Shampoo was introduced to England by a Muslim who opened Mahomed's Indian Vapour Baths on Brighton seafront in 1759 and was appointed Shampooing Surgeon to Kings George IV and William IV.
6 Distillation, the means of separating liquids through differences in their boiling points, was invented around the year 800 by Islam's foremost scientist, Jabir ibn Hayyan, who transformed alchemy into chemistry, inventing many of the basic processes and apparatus still in use today - liquefaction, crystallisation, distillation, purification, oxidisation, evaporation and filtration. As well as discovering sulphuric and nitric acid, he invented the alembic still, giving the world intense rosewater and other perfumes and alcoholic spirits (although drinking them is haram, or forbidden, in Islam). Ibn Hayyan emphasised systematic experimentation and was the founder of modern chemistry.
7 The crank-shaft is a device which translates rotary into linear motion and is central to much of the machinery in the modern world, not least the internal combustion engine. One of the most important mechanical inventions in the history of humankind, it was created by an ingenious Muslim engineer called al-Jazari to raise water for irrigation. His 1206 Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices shows he also invented or refined the use of valves and pistons, devised some of the first mechanical clocks driven by water and weights, and was the father of robotics. Among his 50 other inventions was the combination lock.
8 Quilting is a method of sewing or tying two layers of cloth with a layer of insulating material in between. It is not clear whether it was invented in the Muslim world or whether it was imported there from India or China. But it certainly came to the West via the Crusaders. They saw it used by Saracen warriors, who wore straw-filled quilted canvas shirts instead of armour. As well as a form of protection, it proved an effective guard against the chafing of the Crusaders' metal armour and was an effective form of insulation - so much so that it became a cottage industry back home in colder climates such as Britain and Holland.
9 The pointed arch so characteristic of Europe's Gothic cathedrals was an invention borrowed from Islamic architecture. It was much stronger than the rounded arch used by the Romans and Normans, thus allowing the building of bigger, higher, more complex and grander buildings. Other borrowings from Muslim genius included ribbed vaulting, rose windows and dome-building techniques. Europe's castles were also adapted to copy the Islamic world's - with arrow slits, battlements, a barbican and parapets. Square towers and keeps gave way to more easily defended round ones. Henry V's castle architect was a Muslim.
10 Many modern surgical instruments are of exactly the same design as those devised in the 10th century by a Muslim surgeon called al-Zahrawi. His scalpels, bone saws, forceps, fine scissors for eye surgery and many of the 200 instruments he devised are recognisable to a modern surgeon. It was he who discovered that catgut used for internal stitches dissolves away naturally (a discovery he made when his monkey ate his lute strings) and that it can be also used to make medicine capsules. In the 13th century, another Muslim medic named Ibn Nafis described the circulation of the blood, 300 years before William Harvey discovered it. Muslims doctors also invented anaesthetics of opium and alcohol mixes and developed hollow needles to suck cataracts from eyes in a technique still used today.
11 The windmill was invented in 634 for a Persian caliph and was used to grind corn and draw up water for irrigation. In the vast deserts of Arabia, when the seasonal streams ran dry, the only source of power was the wind which blew steadily from one direction for months. Mills had six or 12 sails covered in fabric or palm leaves. It was 500 years before the first windmill was seen in Europe.
12 The technique of inoculation was not invented by Jenner and Pasteur but was devised in the Muslim world and brought to Europe from Turkey by the wife of the English ambassador to Istanbul in 1724. Children in Turkey were vaccinated with cowpox to fight the deadly smallpox at least 50 years before the West discovered it.
13 The fountain pen was invented for the Sultan of Egypt in 953 after he demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes. It held ink in a reservoir and, as with modern pens, fed ink to the nib by a combination of gravity and capillary action.
14 The system of numbering in use all round the world is probably Indian in origin but the style of the numerals is Arabic and first appears in print in the work of the Muslim mathematicians al-Khwarizmi and al-Kindi around 825. Algebra was named after al-Khwarizmi's book, Al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah, much of whose contents are still in use. The work of Muslim maths scholars was imported into Europe 300 years later by the Italian mathematician Fibonacci. Algorithms and much of the theory of trigonometry came from the Muslim world. And Al-Kindi's discovery of frequency analysis rendered all the codes of the ancient world soluble and created the basis of modern cryptology.
15 Ali ibn Nafi, known by his nickname of Ziryab (Blackbird) came from Iraq to Cordoba in the 9th century and brought with him the concept of the three-course meal - soup, followed by fish or meat, then fruit and nuts. He also introduced crystal glasses (which had been invented after experiments with rock crystal by Abbas ibn Firnas - see No 4).
16 Carpets were regarded as part of Paradise by medieval Muslims, thanks to their advanced weaving techniques, new tinctures from Islamic chemistry and highly developed sense of pattern and arabesque which were the basis of Islam's non-representational art. In contrast, Europe's floors were distinctly earthly, not to say earthy, until Arabian and Persian carpets were introduced. In England, as Erasmus recorded, floors were "covered in rushes, occasionally renewed, but so imperfectly that the bottom layer is left undisturbed, sometimes for 20 years, harbouring expectoration, vomiting, the leakage of dogs and men, ale droppings, scraps of fish, and other abominations not fit to be mentioned". Carpets, unsurprisingly, caught on quickly.
17 The modern cheque comes from the Arabic saqq, a written vow to pay for goods when they were delivered, to avoid money having to be transported across dangerous terrain. In the 9th century, a Muslim businessman could cash a cheque in China drawn on his bank in Baghdad.
18 By the 9th century, many Muslim scholars took it for granted that the Earth was a sphere. The proof, said astronomer Ibn Hazm, "is that the Sun is always vertical to a particular spot on Earth". It was 500 years before that realisation dawned on Galileo. The calculations of Muslim astronomers were so accurate that in the 9th century they reckoned the Earth's circumference to be 40,253.4km - less than 200km out. The scholar al-Idrisi took a globe depicting the world to the court of King Roger of Sicily in 1139.
19 Though the Chinese invented saltpetre gunpowder, and used it in their fireworks, it was the Arabs who worked out that it could be purified using potassium nitrate for military use. Muslim incendiary devices terrified the Crusaders. By the 15th century they had invented both a rocket, which they called a "self-moving and combusting egg", and a torpedo - a self-propelled pear-shaped bomb with a spear at the front which impaled itself in enemy ships and then blew up.
20 Medieval Europe had kitchen and herb gardens, but it was the Arabs who developed the idea of the garden as a place of beauty and meditation. The first royal pleasure gardens in Europe were opened in 11th-century Muslim Spain. Flowers which originated in Muslim gardens include the carnation and the tulip.
Source : www.1001inventions.com.
- Category: General
Muslim Schools are complex institutions, comprising many dimensions and facets. From the members of the Boards of Governors, the management, the staff, the pupils and parents, Muslim Schools are institutions that incorporate all strata and shades of people from the community.
Unlike other Islamic educational institutions where homogenous (one) type of persons are found, the situation in Muslim Schools is not so. It is much more complex and comprehensive. Here people of different levels of understanding, abilities and piety get together. This naturally leads to a situation where a variety of problems are created. Added to this, Muslim Schools are also relatively young institutions in this country. Most schools are still struggling to survive and are just about finding their feet. Despite all the problems associated with Muslim schools, one fact remains – they are little islands in the stormy ocean of chaos in the prevalent educational systems in this country.
Although there are waves of problem after problem in the structures of Muslim schools, at the same time, the potential these institutions possess in terms of shaping strong future Muslims is unlimited. A Muslim School is an ideal venue where effective Tarbiyyah, Ta'leem and Da'wah of the coming generation of Muslims can be conducted. If only the leadership of our Muslim Schools can realize the gold mine they are sitting upon! This supreme opportunity should help to overcome all the little obstacles in between and they should serve to spur on and encourage all types of people involved in Muslim Schools towards an optimistic and positive outlook for the future.
It is the experience of seniors and learned people, that the children who remain sound Muslims for life are those who have had very strong Islamic tendencies in their families or those who have had a solid Islamic Tarbiyyah and grounding, by way of sound Islamic institutions. So while Muslim schools are not perfect (and who is really perfect), they are among the more effective ways that many children, especially those from weak Islamic homes will be saved from the onslaught of apostasy and Kufr. To save the Imaan of a single Muslim is a major achievement for any Muslim community. Imagine if hundreds of young Muslims can be saved ...
It is the cry of the hour for concerned people in the Muslim community to become much more serious about the Muslim schools in the midsts and to put their full weight and support behind them. This is the only way we can make it happen.