Ireland: Plans for Muslim schools

UP to five Muslim primary schools and six Catholic schools could be opened next year.

They are among 33 schools for which plans have been notified to the New Schools Advisory Committee of the Department of Education.

The largest sector includes 19 multi-denominational schools for which recognition is being sought by Educate Together, while six of the proposals are for primary schools under patronage of the local Catholic bishop.

The five Muslim schools planned are for Lucan, Clonee and Tallaght in Dublin, Tralee, Co Kerry, and Sligo town to cater for demand among the growing Islamic population of these areas.

Last year's census showed that there were more than 32,500 Muslims living in Ireland — almost 70% more than in 2002.

Shahzad Ahmed, chairman of the North Dublin Muslim National School, said: "The Catholic schools have catered well for Muslim children but their parents might feel they are uncomfortable when it comes to teaching religion.

"There has also been more pressure for places with large numbers of Catholics coming in from eastern Europe in the past few years are understandably getting priority."

The Muslim population in Tralee has been boosted by Bangladeshi people, many of them working in the hospitality sector. The planned school in Sligo will cater for migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees.

The two Muslim schools already operating in Dublin teach the same primary curriculum as all schools, including Irish, but also teach Arabic through which religion is taught. They are open to the same Department of Education inspections as other schools.

The other applications for new schools include four all-Irish schools, one under Catholic patronage in Co Monaghan, and three under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta. Two of these will have a Catholic ethos and the other, in Greystones, Co Wicklow, will be interdenominational.

There are also plans for an interdenominational school in the Curragh, Co Kildare and a Church of Ireland school in Adamstown, Co Dublin. 

Source: Irish Examiner (English), h/t Nieuw Religieus Peil (Dutch)

See also: Ireland: Muslim population increase

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