By Munawar Khan:
The teaching profession is considered in Islam to be on the highest rank of nobility as teachers are responsible in imparting knowledge and education to those around them.
The teaching profession is not only a responsibility but also among noblest professions but paradoxically, not many Muslims are inclined towards pursuing this profession.
Teachers are individuals who hold immense responsibility in being role models, motivators and generators of this generation and the generations to come.
In Kenya there is an acute shortage of Muslim teachers, particularly those trained to teach Islamic Religious Education (IRE) and Arabic putting in mind that religious education is mandatory and examinable subject in all primary and secondary schools.
On several occasions, the government through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has announced recruitment of teachers but the turn out for Muslim youth has not been encouraging.
Kagumo and Kibabii Teachers Training Diploma Colleges have been offering space for applicants to train in IRE and Arabic but it is also saddening that only a few applicants from the Muslim community have submitted their applications.
It is nearly four decades since the comprehensive Islamic Religious Education syllabus by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development was introduced in the Kenyan schools, Muslims are yet to find enough teachers to teach the subject in all levels from primary to university.
The IRE curriculum is being implemented in schools since 1977 and the Islamic Religious Education (IRE) and Arabic subjects are examined in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) respectively.
Most of the schools offer Islamic Religious Education for Muslim students but due to lack of qualified and trained IRE teachers, the schools cannot implement the program and that is why many Muslim children have been left with no alternative but to take Christian Religious Education (CRE). .
Even Muslim based schools lack qualified trained teachers for the subject and most cases non-Muslims teachers have been employed to fill the vacuum and teach IRE to Muslim children.
More is needed to be done because we are outnumbered in education by our counterparts. Thus for us to face the educational challenges we need to have our own teachers, schools, colleges and universities.
This is a challenge to our students, parents and Muslim NGOs to make sure we embark on supporting those who wish to take IRE as one of their teaching subjects so that we can be able to present our own Muslim teachers.
In order to address the challenge of shortages of IRE teachers. Muslim schools and organisations should put in place measures and start a scheme or project for the provision of scholarships or interest free loans for teachers training to support those willing financially to undertake the training.
Jamia Mosque Committee and Kenya Muslims Charitable Society sponsor several Muslim youth for IRE training at Kagumo and Kibabii Diploma Teachers Training Colleges respectively, others should emulate this initiative.
Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is willing to deploy qualified IRE teachers in public schools and what remains now is for more Muslim youth to come out, volunteer and join the teaching profession.
Knowledge is a prerequisite to be acquired to conduct good deeds. “Without knowledge and learning, life practices are unguided and could lead to self-destruction.
Al-Quran, as the sole and pure foundation for Muslims, also states knowledge and learning as obligatory for every Muslim individual.
All Muslim organizations and the Muslim community in general should strengthen and give full financial support to Muslim Education Council (MEC) to implement the training programme.
Educationists, leaders and Muslim organizations are continuously working towards addressing this dire situation but with little success.
With united approach the Muslim community needs to addresses this issue of IRE teachers’ shortages critically.
The author of this article is the executive director Muslim Education Council (MEC).