From the Cradle to the Grave:
MANA Education Task-force Update
Memorial Day weekend, in the metro Baltimore area, members of MANA’s Education Task-force met to initiate its agenda. Brothers and sisters from Detroit, Boston, New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, and Philadelphia put their heads together to lay the groundwork for the educational path of MANA.
The primary objective of MANA’s education component is to empower our youth and fortify our community by establishing and preserving our Islamic and cultural identity through effective educational practices. Our goal is to establish Muslims as the model group in America who are most successful in the area of education. With the vision and goal in mind, the task-force went to work.
General discussions and work sessions led the group to focus on two major areas: charter school development and solving the identity crisis through alternative education. It is the intention of the task-force to have the MANA Conference workshops (in November) focus on these areas as well as launch a plan of action relating to these topics. The education task-force will submit its specific recommendations to the Diwan of MANA in hopes of establishing a strategic plan for 2009 that will allow us to accomplish its goals.
The Charter School:
Charter schools were selected as the institution of choice for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to: financial viability, professionalism, and facility/resource availability. The main areas of focus in the charter school framework were:
- High Academic Standards
- Character Education based on Islamic values
- Cultural Education
- Student Empowerment and Service
- Parental Support and Education
The school would be a “Science and Service Academy” whose academic focus was scientific and whose developmental focus was community service.
The next step is to bring together Muslims and others who have established successful charter schools in order to create a plan for successful establishment of these model institutions.
The Identity Crisis:
The majority of Muslim youth are confused. This confusion stems from a variety of reasons. The task-force brainstormed alternative educational programs that could remedy this confusion and establish strong Muslims who will not be afraid to practice, teach, and serve their religion.
- After-school and weekend cultural enrichment classes
- After-school and weekend Islamic courses
- Community service projects
- Advocacy and other empowering projects
- Physical/Health Education courses and programs
- Athletic teams and Martial Arts
If our communities are able to establish effective charter schools, these alternative programs will complement what is being taught in the schools. For those not in the charter schools (Islamic school or other public school students), they can also benefit from these identity building programs. The charter school facility can be transformed into more than just a school. They will be community centers that will house the school and allow these alternative programs to be conducted in the same facility.
In the end, everyone in the local community (Muslim and non-Muslim) will see the benefit that Muslims are giving to their neighborhoods. The community will experience high quality educational institutions, focused youth who have high aspirations and service projects that will provide tangible benefits.
All of those who are interested in youth development should contribute to the educational task-force. Please submit your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org so you can be added to the mailing list and share your ideas.
Br. Jose Acevedo