Financing the Education Leadership Program for Islamic Schools in Fiji: Linking and Learning between Islamic Schools in Fiji and Singapore

Many Islamic schools of Muslim minority communities in non-member countries, are left behind from new innovations in teaching and learning. This affects the future of the young Muslim generation. Islamic Schools in Fiji are a case in point; requiring support to innovate in education.

Islamic Schools in Fiji provides a significant contribution to the inclusive development of communities in Fiji. The IsDB has partnered with Fiji Muslim League to improve the physical learning environment of Islamic schools and providing the much-needed educational equipment. The Islamic schools have not, however, been introduced to the best practices in organizational effectiveness and educational quality. This offers several challenges;

  • Inadequate training and skill development for teachers;
  • Inadequate application of technology in school management and learning.
  • Lack of access to accreditation of leadership courses offered in Fiji by international educational providers
  • Weak administrative and technical capacity in relation to modern curriculum development and supervisory competencies.

In view of the above, the IsDB approved a project in the year 2014 with the financing contribution of US$ 200,000 in partnership with the Fiji Muslim League, scaling up the capacity of the Islamic schools in Fiji by linking them to the leading Islamic schools around the world, and their best experiences and practices.

In a bid to achieve the above objective, IsDB has facilitated a linkage between Fiji Muslim League (FML) and Al Irsyad school in Singapore, one of the best performing Islamic schools. The objective of the linkage building was in particular in the areas of;

  • Improving the quality of teaching and learning through the training of school principals, heads of department and school leaders in Islamic schools in Fiji.
  • Enhancing access to modern educational resources, skills, knowledge and understanding the role of ICT in education, and enabling students to cope independently with the ever-changing world.

The project had the following project components:

  1. Capacity Building of Leaders in Education
  2. Organizational best practices in education
  3. School governance and management
  4. Learning Journey for Islamic school teachers to Singapore to get exposure to Singapore education system, in particular Islamic schools.

The Impact

A total of nine schools under the umbrella of the Fiji Muslim League participated in this education leadership project, impacting some 100 teachers and its 5,000 students.

In the past, the nine schools were working on their own. Today, there is a network formed among teachers of these schools to exchange knowledge and best practices with each other, Madrasah Irsyad in Singapore assisting in the transfer of 21st century educational reform to these nine schools. As such, the schools have set themselves on a path of continuous improvement.

Due to the transferred skills, the lessons are now a lot more interactive and fun resulting in better engagement among the students and improving the teaching and learning process. There is improvement in student discipline as teachers are a lot more equipped to handle “disturbances” and cultivate a more positive environment within the classroom.

Furthermore, the schools have the proper processes, systems and standards that Al Irsyad School has developed in all aspects of running an excellent school. This exists in the form of formal and structured training programs, manuals and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), standards and KPIs, and even Audit kits for assessment on the implementation of the whole school system.

The project contributed to the inclusiveness of the Muslim community in the mainstream development of Fiji through improving education quality. It also enhanced the connectivity between Muslim communities in non-member countries through sharing the best practices and learning. The project contributed to the IsDB strategic pillar of Inclusive Social Development. The project has also changed the mindset of Islamic teachers in Fiji and enabled them to adopt a student-centered education system which is more in line with the 21st century teaching approaches.