Oasis International School, an educational initiative by a group of Muslim women in Bangalore, believes that imparting quality education will result in leaders guided by justice and informed by reason, writes Ayesha Masood
In any pluralistic society, a community’s survival depends not only on its ability to preserve its values, its religion, its identity, but also on its capacity to contribute to society as a whole. This is particularly true of a minority community like ours.
A cursory look reveals a fairly dismal picture of the state of the Muslim community in India and its overall standard of living. The only way out of this cycle of deprivation is to invest in the youth of our community by providing them an education of excellence and one which is based on high moral values.
Oasis International School strives towards excellence in all aspects of education by adopting a holistic and dynamic curriculum and providing an emotionally safe and a spiritually and morally invigorating environment to all learners, irrespective of their social status or religious leaning.
Graduates of religious educational institutions throughout the Muslim world are generally absorbed by mainly three service sectors. These include mosque-related services, Islamic mission (da’wah) and teaching in religious schools and universities. The Indian Constitution provides equal opportunities to all individuals, organisations and social groups.
However, the largest Indian minority is a victim of deprivation. There is an acute shortage of Muslim representation in government, legislature, education and policy-making organisations. The most serious challenge faced by Muslims is from within their community; primarily due to a near-total lack of objective understanding of their own situation. This is further compounded by several other factors which range from lack of leaders, growing disparity between rich and poor, a nearly 90 per cent school dropout rate, over 50 per cent living below poverty line and social evils tearing at the very moral fabric.
Unfortunately, the choices available are limited to missionary schools, Madrassas and government educational institutions. There are only a handful schools run and managed by the community which we can be proud of.
We began small in 1999, with just a handful of students in a bungalow on a 5,000 sq ft of rented property. Vow- ing never to sacrifice on quality of curriculum, staff and infrastructure, the strength of the school soon grew by leaps and bounds with almost 100 students added in a year. This also indicated the need for such schools in the community.
In the first seven years, the school was run in 3 different rented houses, which was a very difficult task. Finally in the year 2006, with the help of soft loans from parents, we purchased 3 acre of land 15 km from town. The construction soon began based on state-of-the- art architectural plan drawn out by a renowned architect. In a span of 14 years now, Oasis has grown to over 1,125 students across Montessori to Grade 12. Almost 20 per cent of our students are supported by way of fees which is part of our policy of bridging the gap between children from affluent homes and those from under-privileged backgrounds.
“We provide our students with an environment that nurtures and develops a strong sense of self-identity among students through a pedagogy rooted equally in religious faith and critical enquiry”
At Oasis, we strongly postulate to have established a school of excellence, focussing on high academic standards and life-skill development in a student-centered environment. The school is affiliated to the University of Cambridge, following the IGCSE Syllabus. While the pre-school follows an enriched Montessori Programme inte grated with the international early-years curriculum, the primary school follows the Cambridge International Primary Programme (CIPP) of International Examinations. At the end of Cambridge Secondary 1, students sit through the Cambridge Checkpoint Tests, which provide a detailed feedback on students’ strengths and weak nesses. The Cambridge Secondary 2 (Higher Secondary) follows the IGCSE Curriculum. This programme is designed to give our students international mobility and provides subjects that are educationally sound and challenging. Due to the changing needs of our parents and students, we have established the CBSE curriculum in 11 th and 12 th grades.
Our infrastructure has today grown to a state-of-the-art building with labs, libraries and airy classrooms in 2 campuses. The smaller campus is in Bangalore which houses classes up to grade 2 while grades 3 to 12 are located in the 3-acre campus in the suburbs. We provide our students with an environment that nurtures and develops a strong sense of self-identity among students through a pedagogy rooted equally in religious faith and critical enquiry. Our students are outspoken and courageous with regard to social interactions on minor as well as major platforms, have done well in competitive examinations and are placed in reputed degree colleges.