Necessity is the mother of invention – how madrasah mums impressed a tech giant

 
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Technology and an incredible can-do spirit were today revealed as the secrets behind the success of the Husayni Madrasah Girls Section (HMGS) of KSIJ Dar es Salaam in establishing pioneering virtual academic sessions.

You can read about their brilliant online programs here.

Here we go behind the scenes to discover how they made it possible.

Daunting challenges

The challenges could have been daunting:

  • The madrasah was run completely on a face-to-face basis, with all the students attending in person. With the Covid-19 restrictions, it had to close.
  • How could it remain functional? In Tanzania, the broadband infrastructure can be quite erratic.
  • The ability of the madrasah to afford the latest computers and technology was sparse at best.
  • The teacher pool includes individuals who have not grown up in a technology-savvy environment, and thus would have to stretch beyond their normal abilities to embrace this new way of working.

HMGS and Dar es Salaam Madrasah realized they needed assistance, and forged a partnership with Brother Abbas Aly from the Imam Hasan Center in Sydney. A collaboration between Africa Federation (AFED) and the Federation of Australasia Communities (FAC) dated from June 2019.

So the challenge was enormous, but the mothers of HMGS tackled it with aplomb and were undaunted.

Simply amazing

From an IT industry point of view, what they achieved was quite remarkable. The story behind the scenes, the number of sessions, minutes online, efficiency of delivery … all would be the envy of most corporations.

They ran 35 concurrent classes with about 300 active participants initially – rising after three days to 2,000 participant sessions, roughly 700 per day – with 56 hosts. That they achieved all this using old technology was simply amazing.

Beyond the call of duty

Monitoring on multiple tabs in their browsers because the application itself could not manage it and solving the problems to make it work … the ladies at the DSM madrasah shone in this testing environment and went beyond the call of duty to make it work. Alhamdullilah.

The story of how they overcame the challenges of technology, training of teachers and solving problems even caught the attention of the Chief Technology Officer of the technology giant CISCO. He confirmed that from a technology perspective, what they had done was unique.

The ladies came up with technical issues that were unknown to CISCO, and when CISCO technicians themselves were stuck the ladies solved the problem themselves. CISCO acknowledged all this in writing – praise indeed!

Online madrasahs around the world

Many madrasahs around the world in the community have now migrated their teaching online, usually using Zoom or WebEx.

Read here about the new Madrasah Centre of Excellence online platform. This is a monumental achievement and quite visionary in both approach and execution.

Read here about madrasah teachers excelling online.

Hyderi Jamaat in South London was about to launch a virtual madrasah platform via tablets for all its 500 students before the Covid-19 crisis forced it to postpone. Watch this space for updates after lockdown.

Muhammadi Madrasah in Birmingham is using Zoom to seamlessly provide continuity of Islamic learning for its students. Furthermore, during Mahe Ramadhan madrasah students are given the opportunity to recite daily Duas on the Jamaat live programme.

The madrasah said: “This situation has brought forth so much growth for us. The teachers have developed new skills, learnt to teach creatively online and have even been working closer together to support one another with ideas and their valuable time. Our teachers and administrative team have held our madrasah together in a time of uncertainty, giving parents much-needed reassurances that they are all ready to prioritise their children’s Islamic learning journeys. We ask The Almighty (swt) that their ultimate rewards be great, infinite and worthy.”

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