Religious education in schools offers important cultural and theological guidance. It teaches ethics and morality and supports children and youth in developing their own identity. Religious education encourages children and youth to reflect on and articulate their own beliefs. And it challenges them to grapple with values - both their own and the values held by others. In a pluralistic society, this sort of reflection is crucial in leading the necessary dialogue between cultures and can help us learn more about the differences and similarities between them.
In order to ensure a comprehensive introduction of Islamic religious education in Germany, approximately 2000 instructors will be needed. Without an appropriate academic environment which includes the challenging field of Islamic theology, it will be impossible to provide suitable training for these instructors
The introduction of Islamic theology at German institutes of higher education closes an academic gap by offering students the chance to approach the Koran though a historical-critical method. At the same time the programme will train theologians to provide sound, faith-led religious education within German schools. At the core of these measures are research professorships and the establishment of junior research groups. Islamic-theological as well as interdisciplinary working groups will be set up. The interdisciplinary groups will cooperate with Christian theologies, Islamic studies, religious studies, or other related disciplines.
In principle, decisions regarding the introduction of centres of Islamic theology at institutes of higher education are the responsibility of the German Länder and universities. The BMBF supports four facilities- based on the recommendations of the German Council of Science and Humanities from January 2010.
In autumn 2010, the advisory council convened by the BMBF recommended funding centres of Islamic theology in Tübingen and Münster/Osnabrück, and two further centres in Frankfurt/Gießen and Erlangen/Nürnberg in early 2011. After the University of Tübingen began teaching in October 2011, the centre was officially opened on 16 January 2012. The BMBF- funded centres in Münster/Osnabrück and Frankuft/Gießen also began their work in the winter semester of 2011/2012, and the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg will follow during the course of 2012. All four centres will train budding Islamic theological researchers, social workers, religious educators, and specialized religious scholars, for example those who will go on to work in mosques.
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