The Rise of Islamic Schools in Hong Kong

  • “The findings may help increase the citizens’ awareness of respecting different ethnic minorities and consequently live in harmony,” Dr Ho Wai-yip said.

The Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) will start a first-of-its-kind study about the rise of Islamic schools in Hong Kong. The schools, called “Madrasah” in Arabic meaning Islamic learning institutions, are where Muslim youths study Muslim faith, recite and memorise Qur’an.

According to the study’s principal investigator Dr Ho Wai-yip, Assistant Professor of Department of Social Sciences at HKIEd, up until January 2010, there are 29 Madrasahs in Hong Kong, mostly located in Kowloon and northwest New Territories. "The development of Madrasahs in Kowloon and New Territories has been remarkably fast and these Madrasahs have scattered in many parts of Hong Kong,” Dr Ho said.

But the increasing number of Madrasah schools in the city is understudied, he commented.  “Majority of Hong Kong citizens has limited knowledge on the religious education among Muslims learning the Qur’an and practising Islamic rituals,” said Dr Ho, who is a Christian.


Understanding Islamic schools

In his study, the Rise of Madrasah Education in Hong Kong: Exploring the Change of Learning under Integrated Education for Muslim Minorities, Dr Ho aims to investigate the origin, development and impact of Madrasah, particularly among Muslim youths.  He and his team will explore how ethnic Muslim youths remain faithful to the Islamic tradition by studying and memorising Quran - the religious text of Islam which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God - in the Madrasah after daytime schooling in Hong Kong.

The study is important given the global Islamic revival and the expansion of the Muslim population in Hong Kong, which has increased dramatically from 1.1% in 1999 to 3.11% in 2011, reaching 220,000 Muslims, comprising Indonesians, Pakistanis, Indians, Chinese, Nepalese and Malaysians. Overseas studies on Madrasah focus on the role of Islamic education in a plural society, the bridging role of Madrasah to the mainstream non-Muslim majority.  “Similar issues might occur in the growing Madrasah in Hong Kong, but have not been addressed,” Dr Ho said.

Locally, research on Muslim minorities concentrates on education, Chinese learning, social issues and integration.  But the HKIEd’s study takes a different perspective to explore the demographic expansion of ethnic minorities and the socio-political transformations to explain the rise of the Madrasah in Hong Kong in the past decade.  


On-site research

Some Madrasahs, which are operated under different sponsoring organisations in Hong Kong, have agreed to participate in the study.  Dr Ho and his team will conduct classroom observation to record how Imams (Islamic leaders who provide religious guidance) disseminate religious knowledge and how students learn and recite Qur’an.  Next, they will carry out focus group interviews with Muslim students to understand their experience in their day schools and what they have learned from the Qur’anic study.  Their parents will be interviewed about the significance of the Madrasah education to their family, family honour, moral education, and religious piety. The researchers will also conduct in-depth interviews with Hong Kong teachers and principals in schools with a large number of Muslim students to explore their challenges in teaching Muslim students.

Dr Ho hopes that the results of the study will increase the knowledge on Madrasah in the East Asian and Chinese societies, and will have policy implications for multicultural practices and education. “The findings may help increase the citizens’ awareness of respecting different ethnic minorities and consequently live in harmony,” he concluded.

 


Department of Social Sciences

 

 

 

 

 

In his study, the Rise of Madrasah Education in Hong Kong: Exploring the Change of Learning under Integrated Education for Muslim Minorities, Dr Ho aims to investigate the origin, development and impact of Madrasah, particularly among Muslim youths.

 

 

 

Dr Ho hopes that the results of the study will increase the knowledge on Madrasah in the East Asian and Chinese societies, and will have policy implications for multicultural practices and education.