Arabic- background Muslim students in state schools : an inclusive multicultural education perspective
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The study investigates the education of Australian Arabic speaking background (ASB) Muslim females. While there has been considerable (usually negative) focus in recent years on the social experiences of young ASB and/or Muslim males, there has been relatively little focus on females – and on their more positive educational story. The study thus addresses an under-researched area. It also provides an insider perspective into the education of students whose voices have been under-represented in educational debates. The purposes of the study are two-fold: – to learn more of the educational experiences of ASB Muslim females who attend Australian state secular schools – from the perspective of the students who are currently attending school, from their teachers, and also from the perspective of young women who have now completed school and have taken up various post-school pathways; – to investigate the extent to which secular schools that are attended by ASB Muslim female students can and do address their educational, language, cultural and religious needs. Data for this investigation are drawn from two Sydney state secondary schools. They include questionnaires and interviews with school students; interviews with school executives and teachers; and analysis of school and education department policy documents. They also include interviews with a group of young, Australian ASB Muslim women regarding their post-school experiences. To pursue the purposes of the research, the study proposes an inclusive multicultural framework for the analysis of the data. This framework enables factors to be identified within the research sites that contribute positively to educational outcomes for ASB Muslim female students, and those that do not. Outcomes from the study enable implications to be drawn for schools, for students and their parents and, more generally, for the education and social inclusion of ASB Muslim females in secular societies such as Australia. The outcomes also contribute to broader questions about the nature of inclusive and multicultural education; about the benefits and limitations of such notions for the education of Muslim ASB females; and more generally, about ways of enhancing ASB Muslim women’s participation in a cohesive and inclusive society.
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