In 2009 the Ministry of Culture in Bavaria introduced a pilot program for the teaching of what they call “Islamic Instruction.” Initially the courses were offered at 260 schools in the southern region of Germany but n the coming year at least 400 schools will introduce Islamic religious courses for students reports Junge Freiheit.
The Bavarian teacher association (BLLV) wants to take the program even further. The BLLV wishes to make Islamic studies mandatory in all schools in Bavaria and has addressed their concerns in a petition to the Bavarian regional government. The petition stated the needs of Muslims to be able to receive a formal education that includes their religion and the requirement for Germans to help new migrants integrate better by understanding Islam.
“Less than 25,000 of the estimated 150,000 Muslim pupils receive religious lessons in school in Bavaria,” the teachers association said in a statement to the government. They said that now with the huge influx of Muslim migrants that the need was even greater. The BLLV said that many of the migrant newcomers have children and they should change the lesson plans of the schools to include them.
The BLLV is also concerned that they may be severely lacking in teachers who are properly qualified to teach Islamic studies. They complained that they were short staffed in qualified teachers because other regions in Germany had given candidates with Islamic qualifications better and more secure work. They said that as a result of this much of the potential to fully develop the subject among Bavarian children would be lost.
BLLV president Simone Fleischmann lamented the fact that training opportunities for Islamic teachers were missing in the state. She said there is currently no opportunity for candidates who show a proven theologian expertise in Islam.
The Islamic courses proposed would be based on the religious writings of Islam including the Quran and other books. The courses are intended to show an Islam that is reconcilable with German law and the Bavarian constitution. Advocates say it will assist in creating a space where Muslim children can form personalities in a socially inclusive environment.
The expansion of Islamic studies in Germany and Austria is seen as a way to include Muslim students in a system that is very foreign to them. A teacher in Austria said that many of the migrant children who have come to Europe since the start of the migrant crisis lack basic educational skills and described them as a potential “lost generation”.
A German educational expert also pointed out the fact that few migrants were even literate and said that they will likely be a drain on the economies of European countries for decades.