The new premises of Iqra Elementary School will provide some respite to the increasing demand for Islamic education in New Zealand.
Iqra Islamic School opened in 2016 with 15 students and two teachers in small space in Mt Roskill but has grown manifold with over 100 students in three years leading it to move to a much bigger area to meet the demand.
The principal of the school, Fatima Zahid affirmed that the demand for Islamic education has grown with more families inclined towards providing both traditional schooling and Islamic teachings simultaneously that Iqra Elementary provides.
Dame Patsy Reddy was presented with a Quran at the event
The population of the Muslim community in New Zealand is 46,000 as per 2013 census and few schools to cater to the demand of Islamic education parallel to regular primary school education in the country.
The new premises now houses 130 students, 10 staff members (7 teachers) and students enrolled from the age of five or in Year 1 until Year 5. The school aims to increase the number by 20 by the end of 2019 and also has plans to start a Year 6 class in 2020 .
Speaking at the inauguration of its new premises in New Lynn on Wednesday, June 12, principal of school Fatima Zahid said that there is a massive gap in demand and supply of Islamic education for children in New Zealand and Iqra Elementary intends to contribute its part in bridging that gap.
A tour of the school for Their Excellencies and Deborah Russell MP, escorted by Principal Fatima Zahid
“We have 130 students from 32 countries who study here, and we still have more applications that we are aiming to accommodate currently,” Fatima Zahid told The Indian Weekender.
The school aims to integrate the students with the regular subjects from New Zealand Curriculum such as Maths, English, and Science etc. like it is taught in any primary school and adds Islamic studies, Arabic language and Quran studies as a part of the curriculum.
“We aim our students to become active learners, contributors and participants in the Muslim community, New Zealand and the world.
“The values we want to inculcate through our education is respect for oneself and one another, others’ cultures, responsibility, confidence, acceptance, academic excellence and care for the world and the environment,” Principal Fatima added.
Dame Patsy Reddy with staff and Trustees of Iqra Elementary School
Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy did the inauguration, which was also attended by dignitaries such as the Ambassador of UAE, parliamentarians, community leaders, parents of the students, teachers and trustees of the school.
The inauguration ceremony also featured a haka, Maori waiata and also an Arabic song - Assalamu Alayka by the students of the school.
“Congratulations to all the people who have worked so hard to bring their vision of the school to reality, and we wish Principal Fatima Zahid and her staff all the very best in the years ahead,” Dame Patsy Reddy said.
The cost for each student is $9000 to $10,000 for a year- but students only pay $1000 each for a year and the trustees through donations and fundraising cover the rest.
The unveiling of the plaque marking the opening of the school
Most of the students studying in the school come from a family with single income and while a significant number of students come from families whose total earnings are still below national median.
“Our clientele that comes from the wider Muslim community normally would not go to private school and come from a household of income that is below the national median, Parents want Islamic education and environment for their children so much that they make financial sacrifices for their children’s education” Principal Fatima added.
Iqra Elementary is currently a private school, but it has started the procedure of applying to be integrated into the state system which in the future will allow the school to receive more support from the government to grow and help Muslim children to learn more about their faith and persevere to become better New Zealand citizens without having to struggle while making this choice.