Kazan Federal University as a number of other universities has been recently awarded a grant for humanities research and scientific methodological development within a target project of the Islamic education development. We have discussed the history and content of the programme of Islamic education support and the achieved results with Ramil Khairutdinov, the Director of the Institute of International Relations, History and Oriental Studies (IIRH&OS).
Three-year plans or how the programme is organized
Several years ago the Government of the Russian Federation noticed the necessity to develop the Islamic education. Russia is a secular state. By our legislation, religious activities cannot be directly funded from the federal budget. At the same time in the face of the challenge to revive native traditions of Muslim education, theology, Islam schools, a new project has been developed, with the close cooperation of secular and confessional universities in the given field. KFU's partner here is first of all the Russian Islamic Institute, Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Tatarstan with its extensive network of parishional schools and madrassas.
Besides Kazan Federal University, Lomonosov Moscow State University, St.Petersburg State University, Bashkir State University and Pyatigorsk State Linguistics University are the secular participants of the programme.
For the first time the above mentioned grant was awarded in 2007 by the Tatar State University of Humanities and Education. Since it merged with the KFU, the responsibility centre moved to the Institute of International Relations, History and Oriental Studies. Each programme stage is three-years long; a new decree of the Russian Government has prolonged the programme up to and including 2016.
Focus on development
The priority target of the programme is to create and develop the system of Islamic education in Russia, and to enhance the effectiveness of its separate segments. In particular, here we speak about creating a universal three-tier system of education in confessional institutions. If secular universities do have explicitly stated educational stages of bachelor, master, and postgraduate; religious institutions do not have such a structure yet. Each region (Volga region, the Caucasus, etc.) is peculiar. So we need to unify the system, bring it into accordance with Russian and international standards.
It's worth mentioning that various changes do not cause imposing external strategies on confessional universities. All the programme aspects are developed with the direct involvement of Islamic universities' members. As for us, we closely cooperate with the Spiritual Directorate of the Muslims of the Republic of Tatarstan.
Much attention is paid to the development of courseware that is reading books, and work books that would enable recovering traditions of teaching Islamic disciplines that were lost during the Soviet period. That is what we should do by our own efforts. It is inappropriate to speak about borrowing foreign countries' experience, as Islam comprises many movements and many of them do not fit in with Russia where representatives of different confessions have been coexisting in peace in the same geographical area for centuries. With a lot of attention teaching methods are developed for a wide range of disciplines, such as Islamic Law, Koran Study, Hadis Study and others.
Besides, federal support enables a serious analysis that helps go behind the influence of Islam on the development of the Russian education, science and culture. For instance, we run researches on the history of Islam in Russia. KFU scholars also work on specialized vocabularies, and study the interreaction of cultures by words borrowing. And that is just a little something of what we do. The results of the most of researches are available on the web page of the Centre of Islamic History and Culture Study of the IIRH&OS at the KFU web site, together with our training aids, seminars and round tables' videos, scholars' lectures, delivered at the university within the programme.
Scientific conferences are a part of the programme on the Islamic education development. KFU host major international events, attended by foreign scholars and theologians. The participation of abroad experts enables triangulating on existing problems.
One should not forget about internships the IIRH&OS traditionally organizes for its students and lecturers. This year a group of professors was sent on a business trip to study Arabian language and literature teaching techniques. Fifty-nine students have been to Morocco's University of Abdelmalek Essaadi, the KFU partner, to master their Arabian speaking skills, as well as French and Spanish fluency. It's useful to highlight in this regard that the institute of International Relations, History and Oriental Studies is running the admission campaign to the department of History with a Focus on Islamic Civilization Study at Pedagogical Education Faculty; publicly funded as well as under contract education is available. Educational programmes in Religious Studies and Theology are available at the KFU Institute of Mass Communications and Social Studies, and our partner Russian Islamic University focuses on the training of imams and experts of Islamic history and culture.
A Federal Centre for the Islamic Education Development will be piloted at the premises of KFU in the nearest time. The choice of the Institute of International Relations, History and Oriental Study as a start platform is conditioned by the most effective results of the programme implementation, like the ones of the Russian Islamic University., that is always appreciated at the progress repost meetings of the Islamic education development working groups of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.
No doubt, all activities within the programme serve the global goal of propelling the educational process of Islamic history and culture teaching to a new level. Here we speak about training experts in the majors they have chosen, as well as training and refresher courses, and career enhancement programmes for those dealing with interreligious relations. It is quite a wide range of professionals, such as security agents, migration service personnel, municipalities' personnel, international relations experts and others.