At Tetovo’s madrassa

Embarrassed smiles greet visitors at the school of Islamic religion and culture that operates under the auspices of the mufti of Tetovo, where 105 girls are enrolled in a total of three classes. The four-year program began in 2004, so as yet there are no pupils in the fourth and final year. «The madrassa functions without any support or recognition from the government,» explained the school’s director. «Everything that is done is with the support of the mufti and the teachers’ voluntary work.» The curriculum has an emphasis on the ancient Greek philosophers and theorists of the Islamic tradition such as Aricenna, Al-Farabi, El Gazali, who are never encountered in Western academic institutions. Five languages are taught: Turkish, Arabic, Albanian, Slav-Macedonian and English, as well as sociology, history and geography, mathematics, computer science and biology. The rest of the curriculum focuses on Islamic studies. «We want to prepare pupils to study Islam at university,» said the director. The school’s diploma is recognized by all Turkish universities, as well as academic institutions in countries such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, but not by the state of FYROM.

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