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(plural makatib, Arabic word meaning “place where writing is taught”), a Muslim primary school. Makatib arose as schools attached to mosques in Arab countries in the seventh and eighth centuries. As Islam became more firmly established and Muslim missionary activity intensified, makatib spread to many Near Eastern countries, Middle Asia, the Volga region, and other parts of prerevolutionary Russia where Muslims predominated. The schools were generally supported by the local population and enrolled mainly boys (makatib for girls were uncommon). The teachers were usually mullahs, and the basic subjects were the Arabic alphabet and Koranic texts. In the modern maktab, also called kuttab, the Arabic language and literature, arithmetic, and other secular disciplines are taught. Many makatib have been reorganized into general primary schools in which the Koran is only one of several subjects studied.
In a number of Muslim countries makatib for girls have been organized, in which the pupils are taught by women teachers. Graduates of these schools may enroll in general primary or secondary schools or the madrasa.
Among the Turkic-speaking peoples living in the USSR, maktab is the name of a general secondary school.
V. G. FUROV