The South African Indian Muslim community must reach out to their brethren across the colour line and the best way to do this is by getting involved in the early development education of children. Dr Ganief Aysen, president of the Greater Edendale Muslim Society which now runs 16 crèches, caring and educating over 500 children, made an impassioned plea to the general Muslim community to move away from their “hamper mentality” and make a solid contribution the efforts of the Society. In an interview on Radio al-Ansaar’s Friday night programme, 90 Minutes, the Doctor said that this will, in turn, enable the Society to bequeath a lasting legacy during.
“The community must be encouraged to support the provision of crèches and centres of learning and excellence so that progression through to schools and university would ensure leaders of stature in the future,” said Dr Aysen. He revealed how more than 12 years ago, while working at various hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, he found children were not at school, were not meaningfully occupied and simply whiled away their time.
“I decided to investigate and found that most of these children were infected by HIV/Aids and the communities to which they belonged did not do anything for them, except to wait until they died. I felt that this was very wrong and decided that I needed to do something. With a few well meaning people we built a simple mud building and started a crèche, which provided secular and Islamic education. In a short space of time, there was a dramatic change and we began receiving requests from other little settlements to start such initiatives in their respective neighbourhoods. We did not stop and we brought in more people, like Qari AK Lockhat and his organization and we formed the Greater Edendale Muslim Society. Together we have been able to develop and grow a culture of education for the very young,” he said.
As the children grew older, they were sent to primary school and from there to secondary institutions and that some of them were being prepared for university. “The children who come out of these crèches are such high performers in formal classrooms, that parents are coming to us in greater numbers to cater for their children.”
He said that the Montessori and the Islamic Organisation of South Africa (IOSA) are doing sterling work to change the hearts and minds of people who are not Indian by providing quality and valuable education. “The children that come to us have been given a new life. Apart from an education, two hot meals a day are provided. Proper tuition and a value-based lifestyle are introduced from a very early age. Some of them have come to us wearing torn clothes, in ill health and unable to speak any other language, except Zulu. In a short space of time, the dedicated men and women who are part of this programme change all that. We have taken ordinary women without formal education and had them trained as teachers. Ensured that they received professional qualifications and now run their own crèches under our banner,”
Apart from the education of the children, jobs have been created for teachers, minders, religious instructors and other functions to ensure that the project maintains a very high standard, which invariably impacts on the results in the classroom. He pointed out that starting at this early age, individuals grow up with an Islamic background very quickly attain a sustainable quality of life which enables progress.
Now, with Ramadan upon us, he appealed to people to make contributions to projects which are providing quality education for children still in their formative stages. He called Muslims to give more of their time and money to Africans living in rural areas. Adding, that they had their self-respect and were not looking for handouts, but for acceptance by their brethren. “They want to know you. Be part of your life. To share their experiences and top be understood. They are Muslims and believe in a commitment not only to help them, but also to reach out to others. This is an investment that Indian Muslims should be making and it will change the lives of so many people. It would be a living example of social cohesion which is so greatly needed in our country,” said Dr Aysen.
He added that there was a challenge to get Government to chart a way forward by establishing centers of excellence and uniting existing crèches in the rural areas and use the Greater Edendale Muslim Society’s model to enable the disadvantaged majority to access quality Early Child Education. The Greater Edendale Area is home to close to one million people, the majority of whom are among the poorest. The involvement of Muslims was urgently required to bring about meaningful change. Education is proving to be a very useful vehicle for change in this sprawling improvised area.
Farook Khan – Radio Al-Ansaar – 90 Minutes – 19 April 2018