Australia: ‘Enrolments in hard-line Islamic colleges are growing nine times faster than those of mainstream schools’

The Malek Fahd Islamic School in Greenacre, Sydney.

Enrolments in hard-line Islamic colleges are growing nine times faster than those of mainstream schools, as more Muslim parents demand a strict religious education for their children in ­Australia.

Six schools controlled by the conservative Australian Federation of Islamic Councils now boast 5481 students — a 53 per cent rise in enrolments in five years.

Federal Education Department statistics show that 28,267 students attended Australia’s 39 Islamic schools last year — 82 per cent more than the 15,503 who were enrolled in 32 schools in 2009. In contrast, student numbers in all Australian schools grew by 6 per cent over the same period, to 3.7 million…

…The Islamic Schools Association of Australia, which represents the 33 non-AFIC schools, said yesterday only one-quarter of Muslim students in Australia ­attended religious schools.

ISAA president Abdullah Khan…said the rise in enrolments at Islamic schools was ­fuelled by population growth, including a growing number of Muslim ­students whose parents were working in Australia on 457 work visas. “Academic focus is one of the reasons parents choose our schools but mainly it’s the values we provide, and the ­religious education,’’ he said. “Some schools, academically, are performing really well”…

…Dr Jones said most imams teaching religion at the Islamic schools were foreign-born, and not all were qualified teachers, but he insisted Islamic schools were not turning teenagers to jihad…

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