Truancy vs. De-Schooling

Tony Blair’s crusade to raise education standards was dealt a triple blow with figures showing souring school truancy levels, a student drop-out rate of nearly 25% and a surprise fall in state schools entries to top universities. Truancy jumped by almost 10% last year to its highest level, despite almost £1 billion in government spending since 1997 to tackle the problem. Jacqui Smith, the School Standard Minister, announced a crack down on the “stubborn minority of 888 students at 146 schools who were responsible for a fifth of all truancy. Teachers will be required to identify the most persistent offenders and their parents will be threatened with jail if attendance does not improve. The number of children playing truant has risen by more than a third to 1.4 million since Labour took office. DFES revealed that more than 55000 pupils skipped classes every day in the past school year. Of the 1,381,458 truants, almost two thirds or 793,628 are teenagers. As in previous years, the highest number of truant are in the North East and West, Yorkshire and Humberside followed by London. In the past Muslim parents were accused for taking children back home during term times because state schools do not cater for their cultural and linguistic needs.

Education disadvantage cannot be cured by relying on education within the school. Most learning happens casually, and even most intentional learning is not the result of programmed instruction. Most people who read widely, and with pleasure, merely believe that they learned to do so in school, when challenged, they discard this illusion. But the fact that a great deal of learning even now seems to happen casually and as a by-product of some other activity defined as work or leisure does not mean that planned learning does not benefit from planned instruction and that both do not stand in need of improvement.

The causes of truancy are complex and challenging. The truants find schools boring and have no interest in learning. In my opinion, a purpose built friendly societies may be set up in each and every LEA, with highly qualified teachers, mentors, educational psychologists, social workers and most modern learning material and equipment. It will be an open school for any pupil who wants to attend on daily basis. The pupils are not supposed to learn any thing. The school will provide only learning and teaching environment because schools make some pupils more stupid. Sometimes school drops-out is rich of experiences, wisdom, stories, culture, of magical intelligence. Similarly bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools for balanced education by bilingual Muslim teachers so that their parents would not take them to Pakistan during term times. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim pupils are in majority, in my opinion all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools.