Row Erupts in Britain Over Teaching of Tolerance
Days after Britain’s chief schools inspector singled out Muslim schools as failing to teach tolerance, a report from his agency showed that evangelical Christian schools may be doing an even worse job of it.
David Bell, the head of the Office for Standards in Education, or OFSTED, ran into intense criticism following a speech on citizenship education in which he suggested that the growing number of religious schools were challenging Britain’s “coherence as a nation.”
His agency’s subsequent report on the subject, however, showed that of the 50 Muslim schools inspected last year, 18 were cited for failing to teach tolerance. In comparison, 17 of the 40 evangelical Christian schools inspected—a higher proportion—got bad marks in that area.
Idris Mears, the executive director of the Association of Muslim Schools, in Birmingham, England, said that while Mr. Bell’s remarks were “irresponsible,” they reflected widespread problems stemming from the sudden growth in recent years of independent schools of all religions. “Well-established Muslim schools are teaching citizenship very effectively.”
A spokesman for OFSTED said the agency was making no more comments on the controversy.
Vol. 24, Issue 27, Page 12Published in Print: March 16, 2005, as Row Erupts in Britain Over Teaching of Tolerance