Hosted by Ilim College on February 24 and 25, the forum was supported by Islamic Schools Association (ISAA) of Australia and Independent Schools Victoria (ISV).
With the theme ‘Continuity and Change: Envisioning the way forward for Islamic Schooling in the West’, the event was considered a watershed moment for Islamic education here.
“Islamic schools in Australia, as has been the case with earlier faith-based school communities, are negotiating a period of transition from the establishment phase to a new and exciting phase in their development,” CITE program director for Islamic education, Dylan Chown, says.
In his opening address, Chown paid homage to the visionary pioneers who led the establishment of Islamic schools 34 years ago and spoke about a period of renewal in Islamic education.
“Renewal relates to the search for a more nuanced understanding of the principles of Islamic education and what they may look like in contemporary Australian schooling contexts. “It calls for a purposeful synthesis of these principles from the tradition with contemporary educational practice; and greater emphasis on empirical research substantiating best practices in Australian Islamic schools.”
The aim of the forum was to provide a platform for educators in Islamic schools to network, build collaborative partnerships, share stories of hope and showcase projects and best practices.
“[There was a] buzz and energy created by educators coming together, of sharing dreams and sharing concerns and most importantly realising the common threads that run through our schools and our collective efforts to provide quality education,” Aynur Simsirel, executive principal of Ilim College and chair of ISAA, says.
Presenters delivered workshops on everything from the importance of identity to the the power of interfaith dialogue.
In his closing address, Professor Mohamad Abdalla (CITE Director) commented that the forum made progress towards a national collaborative project led by CITE along with national education, community and religious partners to develop a rigorous and contextual Islamic Studies Curriculum that aligns with the ACARA standards.