Islamic educational institutions need to embrace progressive teaching methods, says minister

|     Azlan Othman     |

THERE is an inclination towards Arabic Language and Islamic studies in the Sultanate, which is evident in the number of students registered in Arabic schools that rose from 30.89 per cent in 2014 to 34.54 per cent in 2015, said the Minister of Religious Affairs, Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman. He made these comment at the opening of the International Conference on Teaching Arabic Language and Islamic Studies in the Islamic World, at Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) yesterday.

The two-day inaugural seminar is being hosted by UNISSA and the Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB), in collaboration with Islamic Universities League.

“Accordingly, the latest teaching methodology needs to be built and adapted in line with the rapidly expanding information technology. In the context of Arabic Language teaching among higher educational institutions, the widespread use of multimedia and the Internet have the potential to facilitate a more dynamic, more effective teaching and learning process,” said the minister.

“Hypermedia connection allows students the opportunity to access information without the help of instructors, while creating real learning situations and enabling direct communication with native speakers through the Internet. Therefore, the provision of complete and adequate infrastructure, such as the existence of a language laboratory, is viewed as crucial in every institution of higher learning or even in basic education.

“This is no exception in the context of Islamic studies, where the demand for the latest teaching trends and the provision of quality instructors is essential to the success of Islamic education.

Minister of Religious Affairs, Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman speaks at the event
Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) students at the conference. – PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN

“The educator’s personality, as well as the knowledge of pedagogy and the diversity of skills in teaching and learning, are important for effectively imparting knowledge and skills.”

The minister added that the challenges of 21st Century economic progress, borderless technology and the diversity of global issues have led to the near-exclusion of Islamic studies.

“In this regard, Islamic institutions of higher learning will need to embrace efforts to produce attractive programmes and teaching methods, in order to inspire more students and prevent the decline of Islamic studies,” he said.

“Islamic studies are synonymous with traditional teaching methods through Talaqqi (lessons conducted in small groups) and lectures or academic concepts, as is knowledge of Fardhu Ain (community obligations) or Tasauf (spirituality). However, the character profile of the educators, based on the Islamic concept of Mudarris, Muaddib, Murabbi, Mursyid and Mu’allim, should also add value to the teachings in accordance with religious conventions.

“Holistic, or comprehensive Islamic education, that covers human development from physical, spiritual, intellectual and emotional aspects can be used to enhance various aspects of human life to achieve advancement and the happiness of this world and the hereafter.

“This is in line with Islamic concept that recognises the diversity of knowledge, although the degree of truth is not the same. Islam is accepting all methodologies, as long as they do not contradict the basic principles of Islamic education which emphasises knowledge that is both beneficial and based on truth.

“Therefore, I hope that this collaboration will not merely be limited to seminars, but extended to other forms of cooperation, to further reinforce the position of this institution, in line with its capacity to channel knowledge to the present generation and beyond – as the main driving force to a culture steeped in research.

“The Islamic Universities League (Rabithah al-Jami’at Al-Islamiyah) has a substantial role in this field, while striving to forge mutual assistance and links between universities in the Islamic world, which is plainly evident in the organisation of this seminar,” he said.

The Dean of Arabic Language Faculty, Dr Siti Sara binti Haji Ahmad, as a member of the working committee at the conference, said that Islamic universities have a significant role in the development of Arabic Language and Islamic education.

“To ensure this, Islamic universities should have effective strategies, a skilful academic workforce and a learning environment which are conducive to the best procedures, student abilities and efficiency of the teaching workforce,” she said.

A total of 60 papers will be presented during the seminar. The first session was held yesterday at UNISSA, with the second taking place today at KUPU SB.