Teacher education Austria

Austria debates democratic credentials of its Islam teachers

Austrian politicians and media are in uproar over a recent survey that said a fifth of all Islamic religious education teachers here hold anti-democratic views.

In the survey of 210 teachers, conducted as part of a PhD thesis, 21.9 percent agreed with the following statement: “I oppose democracy because it is not compatible with Islam.”

The public debate has worn on without asking a few crucial questions, such as how representative these findings are, how thorough the survey was and whether the questions steered the answers.

(Photo: A Muslim woman and a far-right election poster saying “Now it’s about us Austrians” in Vienna, 18 Sept 2008/Dominic Ebenbichler)

Instead, only days after the survey appeared in the weekly magazine Falter, the education ministry unveiled a five-point programme to be implemented by the Islamic Community overseeing the teaching of Islam.

Children in Austria can choose to study their own religion at school. Lessons are funded by the state and, until now, teachers were not required to have any formal education. Now, among other measures, Islamic religion teachers will have to sign a contract stating their adherence to democracy, human rights and the Austrian constitution.

“No teacher- in any subject, and of any religion — should express undemocratic opinions in Austria’s schools or disdain our constitution, ” said Education Minister Claudia Schmied of the Social Democrats.

Members of Austria’s far right Freedom Party, which scored 17.5 percent in the Sept. 2008 elections, extrapolated the findings to the Muslim community at large. “For years, (politicians) have looked away and acted as if there were no problems with the integration of Muslims, ” they said. “It is high time that the Social Democrats wake up out of their multicultural dreams.”

The author of the survey, Islam expert Mouhanad Khorchide, 37, said he had feared his findings could be misused by the far-right and Austria’s estimated 400, 000 Muslims. The Palestinian-born Austrian citizen held back from publishing them until after the elections, in which the far right nevertheless garnered a record 28 percent of the vote.

(Photo: Muslims protesters pray outside Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral, 10 Feb 2006/stringer)

Khorchide said those saying Islam was incompatible with democracy were often older Islamic religion teachers, many of whom came from countries in the Middle East without established democratic traditions.

Waxmann Verlag GmbH, Germany What's Worth Aiming for in Educational Innovation and Change?: Democratic Mentoring as a Deliberative Border Crossing Discourse for Teacher Education in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland and Spain (Paperback) - Common
Book (Waxmann Verlag GmbH, Germany)

More info please from "former teacher"

by teachingenglishoversea

Thank you for your response. it was very helpful. did you teach in the czech republic or austria? if so, which process did you go through and/or which school did you go through?
what do you know about TEFL-online courses or TESOL education at "on-site" places. for instance, i have found programs for about $1400 (not incl. airfare) that teach you in the country, like czech republic. what do you think of that situation?
thank you for your help.

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