The Education Committee of The Council of European Jamaats held the annual Easter Revision Course in Queen Ethelburga’s College, York, between 1st – 7th April. GCSE Biology, IGCSE Biology, GCSE Chemistry, IGCSE Chemistry, GCSE English Language, GCSE English Literature, GCSE Mathematics, IGCSE Mathematics, GCSE Physics, IGCSE Physics, A Level Biology, A Level Human Biology, A Level Chemistry, A Level Economics, A Level Psychology and, A Level Mathematics were taught in classes.
The course was attended by 43 students (17 GCSE and 26 A Level), of which 25 were male and 18 female. Most UK Jamaats were represented.
Eight subject helpers (4 male, 4 female) were chosen based on their academic abilities and community involvement to act as teaching assistants during classes, personal tutors during private study and surgery sessions, and mentors during sports, breaks and recreational times. The course, overseen by Amir Walji, Chair of the Education Committee, was most ably led by sister Fatima Damani and actively supported by Wasim Gulamali. Ten teachers from within and outside the community were recruited to disseminate information to our children over a 5 day period consisting of 27.50 classroom hours and 8.00 surgery hours.
The course was deliberately intensive; however, some extra-curricular provision was made.
This included timetabled sports activities, leading or participating in contemporary Islamic workshops. In addition, all students attended congregational prayers for Zohr and Maghrib, and there were special programmes on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
Throughout the week students conducted themselves in an exemplary manner and were a credit to their parents/guardians and the community at large.
All the teachers were impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the students; the good manners and general courtesy displayed was a reflection of good parenting. The course was attended by three Afghani Shia boys, Zia, Ahmed and Mustafa, whose parents are members of the Wessex Jamaat. After the initial natural anxiety, all the boys fully integrated with the groups and became active participants in the learning and sporting sessions. The overall feedback of the boys was that of awe and admiration for the Khoja community in organizing such an event.
Also present throughout the course was Mrs Waheeda Rahim, CoEJ Executive Councillor, who provided personal and pastoral support to students as and when deemed appropriate.
Feedback from students, parents, mentors and teachers was extremely positive with constructive comments on future improvements. Below are reflections from two students, Sara Gulamali and Ali Asgher Merchant.
Now, I'm sure, most of us, if not, all have been walking around like zombies, overworked. And with the stress of exams in less than six weeks at the back of our heads, there is no time to waste. And the sole purpose simply put, education - a cure for ignorance.
Personally, I wasn't particularly keen on coming this week, nine hours of solid revision a day, waking up at six-thirty and no phone signal isn't exactly my idea of a good Easter. However, now having almost finished the course my outlook has completely changed. Think of it this way, we've all been lucky enough to have a group of brilliantly qualified teachers ready at our fingertips, amazing accommodation and our closest friends around us, all within an Islamic environment. And really, if you've not taken advantage of all these things, you're a fool.
The mentors this year have been our greatest support from being able to help us revise, to us refusing to switch off the lights, after lights out. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to my fellow neighbours for all the noises that came from our room over the past week. Just to end, on behalf of all the girls and I, we would like to thank Amir uncle, the teachers and the mentors for an unforgettable week.
The residential court was at first a mysterious place to many because last year’s course was in Malvern, but we were all welcomed with lush green scenery of trees and exotic plants. Over the whole site we saw different scattered sculptures and fountains to create the perfect environment to learn.
Our home for the next six days looked very exciting, there was a common room containing a pool table which we could use during our breaks, which have now been attached to so many fun and enjoyable memories between friends. Our rooms did not fall short when it came to facilities, they consisted of a kitchen and a desk that we used regularly, spending long hours determined to progress in our subjects. But, for the main part was our classes, here we would spend the majority of our day, with actual teachers who shared the same determination as us to get the best grades possible. All the teachers were a joy to have classes with; they made the classes interesting and made us tailor the classes so we could wreak the benefits of them.
Balance in life is always a central, so with hard work we had to have some leisure so that our brains could have a break from photosynthesis, algebra and Shakespeare. During this time we were able to play sports, which helped to strengthen the relations of newly formed friendships.
All in all, this course has been a tremendous experience for me; I have met many new friends who I will definitely keep in touch with after the revision course has ended. Some great teachers whom I have all to thank for my improvements in my subjects. Next year I hope to come back to this course for my A-levels because I highly regard this course to be a place where I can gain the ability to improve in my subjects, so that I can achieve the best grades possible.
Ali Asgher Merchant