In France, 40 Muslim schools reopened their doors this week. In Nanterre, (Hauts-de-Seine) two opened for the first time. The Ibn Badis Institute is attached to the mosque local mosque. The project has been in the works for 21 years and welcomed its first students in September.
Unlike the school project halted by the local government in La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, the Ibn Badis Institute had no problems with the local government. The school’s young director Sabar Kabbouchi was extremely enthusiastic as the days grew closer to its opening.
“We believe that each child is unique so the classrooms are divided into clusters of four. This allows us to show each student that he is part of a whole. So he will then contribute to society, this begins from the beginning of the school year,” explained Kabbouchi.
Only 20 students were going to be admitted. But after 500 applications, only 152 students were admitted.
“Sadly, public school is no longer in alignment with some families’ wishes for a lot of things. We saw the controversy caused by the lack of meals without meat in school cafeterias even when we didn’t ask for halal meat. We only ask that students are able to choose. The same goes for discrimination in certain establishments against young middle school girls who are veiled. This caused a collective awareness in the community,” said Kabbouchi.
For Monia and Oussini it was enough evidence to send their son to the school, despite it costing 2,100 euros per year. “From a young age he will learn Arabic. An opportunity that I never had. He will be able to learn about his religion and he will understand his religion. And then he will be proud to be French and Muslim. It’s true that in a private Muslim school, there are going to be certain things that are discussed less or differently. That’s a plus for us,” explained the mother of three.
The school receives no funding, but hopes to in five years. It’s necessary for an establishment to exist for five years before it receive a state contract and its funding. At the moment, three Muslim establishments are under state contract in France.
In Catholic schools, 9,000 establishments boast 2 million students, while the Jewish community has 280 primary schools, middle schools, and high schools with 30,000 students.