Two Leeds mosques have launched a major project to build a new Muslim primary school and nursery in the city.
Leeds Muslim Council, which forms the joint management committee of Al-Madina Jamia Masjid and Makkah Masjid in Hyde Park, will fund the mixed sex facilities through community donations and fundraising.
The project has been launched during the annual Ramadan fast, when a focus is put on charity and spirituality. Sites for the school are being considered while the nursery would be based, initially, in an extension to the Woodsley Road Community Centre.
Imam Asim Mohammed, priest at Leeds Makkah Masjid, said: “The Muslim community of Leeds has embarked on a new initiative to build a nursery, with a view to eventually establishing a school. The management committee believes teaching Islam is not only about learning the basic duties such as praying. It is teaching the children manners, as well as cleanliness. A nursery shall provide an Islamic environment and will instil in them good morals, which will help them become good Muslims. A good Muslim is a good citizen, a gentle and caring member of society.
“Islam places huge emphasis on gaining knowledge,” he added. “Education is also crucial to integration and social cohesion in a diverse multicultural and multi-faith society.”
Statistics show that while a third of British Muslims are under 16 and there are around 500,000 young Muslims currently at school or college, they are still significantly underachieving in comparison to their peers.
Imam Asim added: “The key educational issues concerning Muslim parents are the continuing poor academic results of Muslim children and the inadequacy of spiritual and moral education that schools provide. There are many reasons for this and a number of stakeholders have a vital role to play if things are to change any time soon.”