Madressah child in townships are seen to be poor, broken, wayward with no sense of direction, according to Moulana Ebrahim Mokgabudi who is the General Secretary on the SANZAF board as well as Gauteng General Manager for the Imam Development Project. He holds that the cause of this is that, although the conventional Madressah system works so brilliantly within established Muslim communities, a copy and paste of the exact same system in the townships spells disaster.
What needs to be done in the townships is quite different from what is done in the established Muslim communities. The Madressah system is not in the DNA of children in the townships, they need to be motivated in various ways in order for the system to end up being a part and parcel of their lives. “We need to demonstrate to the parents of the kids that we care for the children holistically and not just trying to push our religion down their throats. We need to demonstrate to them that we are with them for the long haul.
“Along with the Islamic studies, the Madressah needs to incorporate a tuition program into the syllabus, homework assistance program, sporting activities and good quality excursion programs. If you gauge that people in the township don’t have an affinity to the word Madressah, don’t call it Madressah, call it afternoon school. In this way you will be elevating the program from being in the margins into mainstream because it won’t sound foreign anymore. Don’t give the young girls old and worn out abayas to wear to Madressah, sew them beautiful, Shari’ah-compliant dresses that cover them modestly without being black and faded.
“In order to gain prestige and honour in the townships, people need to know that children who attend Madressah are also often the best performers at school. If we can achieve this, we won’t need peanut butter and bread to draw the children, the parents will themselves enrol the kids into our Madressahs,” he impresses.
Moulana Ebrahim Mokgabudi relates that he often comes across people who want to know whether “Is Islam growing in the townships? Are people taking well to it?” I often respond by saying, “yes it’s growing, but also declining at the same rapid speed at which it’s growing, if not faster.”
The reason? “Nobody wants to appear for the rest of their lives as being ‘poor, broken, wayward with no sense of direction’. So if the child does stick around for a few years in the Madressah, it’s either because he’s hanging around with his friends who happen to attend the Madressah, or he/she is just in survival mode. “The minute the need for survival is over, and the basic needs for him or her to start scavenging for himself have been fulfilled, he has no reason to be seen in that ‘church’, or it’s uniform, ever again.”