Ali Kadri, well-known media spokesperson for the Islamic Council of Queensland (ICQ), has been appointed CEO of the Islamic College of Brisbane (ICB), Queensland’s largest Islamic school.

Muslim parents put a high value on their children’s education.

This writer was surprised to read in the 2012 Courier-Mail Schools Guide that ICB rated higher than his own GPS school, Anglican Grammar.

Indeed, ICB performed well with NAPLAN results for independent schools. In 2019, ICB rated seventh in Queensland.

ICB has an excellent sports program. In 2018, ICB’s futsal team came first in Australasia.

Founded in 1995 by Brisbane-based community members, ICB was taken over by Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) in 1998 (AMUST Issue#180, November 2020).

From 2012 to 2016 serious Federal government concerns were raised relating to financial irregularities with transfers between ICB and AFIC.

Kadri, together with former ICQ President, Ismail Cajee, negotiated in 2016, transfer of ICB management to a Queensland-based Board.

At Dr Ray Barrett’s retirement, Abdul Shariff was appointed Principal.

With the school growing exponentially, an important challenge for the CEO is moving from a small-school to a large-school management style.

School numbers are 1276, but plans are to open with 1,500 students in January. The aim is to further increase size while enhancing education quality.

Once current maximum of 1680 students is reached, the school will consider further onsite building or additional campuses.

Another challenge is the increasing ethnic diversity, together with varying individual needs and parents’ religious outlooks.

The key is “What does it mean to be an Islamic school?” This needs to reflect, not only Islamic studies content, but an Islamic ‘ethos’.

Kadri highlights that a developing focus is to enhance Islamic ethos in everything done at the school.

Islamic pedagogists, Dr Mohamad Abdalla and Dylan Chown of University of South Australia, are engaged to conduct research and develop strategies to infuse Islamic values at ICB, and pilot a new curriculum for Islamic studies. It is envisaged the strategies will be incorporated in the next 5-year strategic plan, commencing 2022.

Whereas before, the school had a narrow subject choice for matriculation, alternative pathways are now available to university and in pursuing careers. Subjects have been increased to almost 20, including trade apprenticeships.

An example of inculcating Islamic ethos, is promoting shura’ consultation between relevant parties. Ali says, “I will lead by example.”

Recently, there was an opportunity to review operations of the school tuck-shop. Students were asked to provide input and 30-40% responded. This facilitated changes in what food items were sold to the children’s benefit.

He cited another shura example. Due to building zone height restrictions, the new 5-storey high-school building foundation was dug deep resulting in an 8-m high face. Seeking suggestions, a senior girl proposed making it a rock-climbing face, which is being considered.

This construction provided opportunities for students to gain apprenticeship training in plumbing and painting. It is envisaged the new building will be ready for 2021 school opening.

When the CEO is down on energy he enters the schoolyard and engages the children, which he finds highly energising.

As 2020 is the school’s 25th jubilee year, Kadri and Staff are planning  massive celebrations, which were put on hold due to the pandemic. Stay tuned as ICB may still hold the event before year-end.

Correction: In the ICB article in the last AMUST edition (#180), it was stated incorrectly that Islamic Council of Queensland controls it. Actually, the School Board comprises the following private individuals: Ismail Cajee, Ali Kadri, Junaid Qadri, Ray Barrett, Janeth Deen, Shahid Bharadia, Rabiul Alam and Lyla Moshmosh.

The Muslim community is encouraged to grant them support to discharge their amanah to Allah and the community.