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Toronto Muslims Tackle School Drop-out

Published: 12/06/2012 04:18:12 PM GMT
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TORONTO - A Muslim charity, a leading Canadian service organization and local schools and parents have banded together to conduct an innovative pilot project to mitigate the high drop-out among Somali students in a Toronto ne (more)

TORONTO - A Muslim charity, a leading Canadian service organization and local schools and parents have banded together to conduct an innovative pilot project to mitigate the high drop-out among Somali students in a Toronto neighborhood.

“The Olive Tree Foundation was very pleased to be able fund this important project of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto,” Imran Yousuf, Secretary of the Foundation told OnIslam.net.

“This project will help prevent young people from dropping out of school, drawing on a culturally competent approach and build a positive community among the youth based on mentoring.”

The foundation recently teamed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto (BBST), Canada's leading youth and children mentoring service organization, to run the project in a suburban community that the city of Toronto has identified as a priority neighborhood.

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The project named the Somali Leadership Club provided support, on the school premises and during the school day, to Somali elementary school children.

A group of Somali high-school mentors (‘Bigs') were matched one-to-one, with a child from their local elementary school who, for various psychosocial and socio-economic reasons, may be at risk of dropping out of school prematurely.

“The Olive Tree Foundation's support will help us bring Youth Mentoring to the Somali community in this priority neighborhood,” said Shauna Klein, Director of Fund Development and Marketing of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto.

“By providing children with the support of a mentor we believe that we can help alleviate the community's high drop-out rates, as well as, facilitate leadership development within the mentees,” Klein added.

The Olive Tree Foundation is a Toronto-based endowment foundation (Waqf) that promotes community development.

Community Development

The Muslim charity says that initiative aims to strengthen the community and encourage innovation.

“The guiding principles of the Olive Tree Foundation are to provide support where there is genuine need, build on the strengths of the community and encourage innovation and community development,” said Yousuf.

The Somali Leadership Club held its yearend celebration last week and students, parents and community partners met to celebrate the success of the pilot project.

The organizations are hoping to continue the program in the coming year and plan to extend it to other communities.

For almost 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto has been well known and respected for important services they provide to children and youth in the community.

BBBST has been providing mentoring to at-risk children and adhere to strict standards of child safety and are committed to the strengths-based development of young people in the community.

“Every Child Who Needs a Mentor, Has a Mentor,” states the organization in it vision statement.

“We believe every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential, both as individuals and citizens - that by doing so, they will not only do well, they will also do good.”

Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the Roman Catholic country.

A recent report from the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life said that Muslims are expected to make up 6.6% of Canada's total population in 2030.A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net




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