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Wake Forest University

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Kenya: Swahili Studies and Coastal Cultures


Since the arrival of Europeans in the 19th century there has been tension within the Swahili community between the traditional Islamic madarasa system of education and the new Western model they brought. In recent decades a new dimension has been added to this struggle through schools which combine the two different institutes. There are two types of integrated schools currently operating within Mombasa. The first is a network of integrated nursery schools founded by the Madarasa Program. The Program works through their schools to empower and educate impoverished Muslim areas using ideas of community ownership and development. The Program, and through it the nursery schools, receive aid from many organizations around the world. The money is used to get schools started and to keep their fees at a level where parents can afford them. Unlike Madarasa schools, Mombasa’s integrated primary and secondary schools operate as individual entities. These schools are not part of any networks and obtain all their funds through their school fees. Independent schools follow Kenya’s standard national curriculum for secular subjects, but they alternate them with their own Islamic classes. Despite their differences both these systems ultimately work to promote the welfare of Mombasa’s Muslim children and the Muslim community as a whole. This research paper endeavors to uncover the inner workings of both these integrated systems and the impact they have on Mombasa’s Muslim community using information gathered through interviews and written documents gathered through the course of a two week research period.


Education | Religion

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