Without a crucial foundation in education, the choice for students to attend higher education is dim and employment upon leaving school is harder to achieve. Social mobility is limited and research indicates that with these bleak prospects, a child with lower academic achievement is more likely to feel socially excluded.
Despite Muslims in the UK comprising 4.8% of the overall population in 2011, 8.1% of all UK school children were Muslim. A large number of these pupils are under-achieving and under-performing, and although there has been some improvement, Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils continue to have low GCSE attainment levels. The majority of those from ethnic minorities fail to attain entrance into the UK’s better universities.
There are a number of reasons to explain these low attainment levels, markedly low motivation and aspirations of pupils, less involvement from parents and families and institutional discrimination which could lead some teachers to have low expectations for students from ethnic minority groups.
Muslim Hands is working to change the performance of these underperforming pupils. Our school intervention programme identifies locations where school children are underachieving and builds partnerships with local stakeholders. Through education booster sessions, homework clubs and mentors working one-to-one with pupils, obstacles to high attainment are highlighted and addressed. Extra curricula activities, sports programmes and trips are arranged for these children from under-privileged backgrounds in order to provide a holistic learning experience and to combat social exclusion. In addition, Muslim Hands is helping to inspire young people through motivational career talks and advice from leading practitioners across a variety of career paths.
Since 2008 we have been running the Young Muslim Writers Awards which encourages 5 to 16 year old Britons to write creatively and improve their communication skills. An annual competition is held to select the best poetry and short stories and an awards ceremony commemorates the shortlisted writers. Regular writing workshops in schools, libraries and community organisations supplement the competition and develop the writers’ creative skills.