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Eco-Islamic school a first in Malaysia
Published on: Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kuala Lumpur: A number of studies today indicate that extended periods of playful learning helps to develop powerful learners and problem-solvers.

Numerous studies also show that children who play regularly in natural environments have more advanced motor fitness, self-discipline, concentration, balance and agility and are sick less often.

It is in view of such overwhelming evidence that the Idrissi International Primary School was established. Based in Setia Alam, Selangor, it is the first eco-Islamic school for children aged from seven to 12 years old.

Parents looking for an alternative to mainstream schools and aware of the benefits of homeschooling may be pleased to find that Idrissi takes on the homeschool-based approach.

"Classes" take place in an informal setting to foster an open and engaging learning experience. The medium of instruction is in English.

There are currently 15 classrooms spread across two buildings on a spacious private property.

According to its director Zaliza Alias, the Idrissi School employs several curricula for a holistic approach to education namely the Idrissi Islamia Curriculum, the Idrissi British National Curriculum, the Idrissi Eco-Muslim Lifestyle and the Idrissi Meaningful Foreign Language curriculum which includes Malay Language and Civilisation, Mandarin and Arabic.

"Idrissi incorporates into its system several of the best educational curricula from overseas.

"For example, we use the curriculum from Islamic Online University and al-Khadeem Institute for our Islamia Curriculum," said Zaliza, who is also the director of Genius Aulad International Group Sdn Bhd. The company runs the network of Genius Aulad child enrichment centres.

Its eco-based curriculum uses nature as a learning tool with patch farming activities being an integral part of it. The school has selected several learning partners such as the Australia Organic School, the Shah Alam Botanical Garden, the Putrajaya Botanical Garden and the Association for the Protection of Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka).

The school impresses upon each person's responsibility towards nature and as servants of Allah who have been entrusted with the guardianship of His creations.

Zaliza said the Eco-Muslim Lifestyle module taught children to appreciate nature's treasures.

"The lessons are hands-on. Each child will be taught how to plant a tree. The school has a dedicated area for children to learn farming and they will be responsible for taking care of their plants. They will be harvesting and cooking the produce from their plants.

"Children learn a lot from touching soil. It is where they will learn about the greatness of God. The lessons will eventually extend to their parents, teachers and ultimately society," she explained. Zaliza said the children's creativity, reasoning and social skills would also be sharpened through contact with nature.

Such opportunities would be presented through the activities held in partnership with Landskap Malaysia, where the non-profit body would provide the children with plants to be planted at orphanages, "surau" or by the river.

Zaliza said the Eco-Muslim curriculum was the first of its kind in the world.

The school is also pioneering the introduction of the subject of Physical Sciences to primary school children in the country. The Idrissi school is equipped with an engineering laboratory and two other science laboratories to facilitate the teaching of the subject.

Zaliza, who has 19 years of experience in the education field, said Idrissi was built to cater upon current needs.

"Today, we can see that many parents are opting to send their children to religious-stream schools. Muslim parents today understand that their children do not only need a strong Islamic foundation but an understanding on its application in daily life. Idrissi tries to fulfil that need," she said.

Zaliza said among the main objectives of the Idrissi School was to produce a generation of responsible and loving Muslims who would act according to the Quran and sunnah.

The school is also equipped with futsal, basketball and badminton courts as well as an archery range like in other international schools.

"It is the nature of children to play, so we do not only focus on learning theories but give them an opportunity to improve their cognitive skills through activities outside the class," she said.

International schools in Malaysia are rather notorious for their exorbitant fees, some even reaching RM70,000 annually.

Acknowledging the situation, Zaliza who views herself as education advocate said Idrissi charges reasonable fees for the quality of education it offers.

"Parents need only pay a monthly fee of RM900 for all the facilities provided," she said. A mother of two, Suraiya Ahmad, 41, is one of the parents deeply impressed and interested in sending her children to Idrissi.

"This is a different time than when we were growing up. The challenges are greater today as the world becomes smaller. Basic (Islamic) education will not be enough. We will need to also provide children with the understanding and application of such knowledge in daily life," she said. – Bernama

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