The dissertation compares two Muslim-profiled schools in Sweden with two Muslim-profiled schools in England. Among other things, the study shows that in the two schools in England there is considerably more free space for the Muslim aspect. There it is allowed to integrate Islam into all activities at the school, in various subjects and during breaks. Thereby it is permitted, in contrast with the two schools in Sweden, to require Muslim girls to wear hijabs* and to establish rules that forbid girls and boys to sit next to each other and play with each other during breaks
“If the two Muslim-profiled schools in England – hypothetically speaking – had applied to start similar state-financed schools in Sweden, they would have had their applications rejected,” says Åsa Brattlund.
The reason is that these schools would not be regarded as conforming to the Swedish national curriculum – the demand that instruction must be non-confessional, that no regulations of student and staff clothing are allowed, and that no norms and rules may be established regarding the social interaction between girls and boys and between women and men.
If the two Muslim-profiled schools in Sweden had applied to start similar state-financed schools in England, according to Åsa Brattlund, they would probably also have had their applications rejected, since there at present only four Muslim profiled primary schools are in receipt of such state financing.
“Even if the schools were hypothetically granted state financing, they would probably find it extremely difficult to recruit pupils. It is likely that Muslim parents in England would regarded the schools as secular and thereby not capable of transmitting the morals and the discipline they would expect,” says she .
These parents would probably react to the fact that girls and boys of all ages play and mingle with each other. What’s more, the parents would react to the fact that the Muslim girls and Muslim women who work at the schools are allowed to decide for themselves if they want to wear a hijab or not.
* Hijab is the traditional clothing for Muslim women. It covers the head, the face, or body and is often called a veil. It has existed in many variants in different times and different places in the world.
Name of dissertation
What Role for God and the National Curriculum in School Life? A Comparative Study of Schools with a Muslim Profile in England and Sweden.