KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — The Ministry of Education (MOE) and Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, Egypt, are in the final stages of amending the existing agreement in an effort to improve the implementation of the Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) curriculum and assessment.

Senior Education Minister Datuk Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said the amendment was aimed at ensuring that STAM graduates were among those of high quality and able to further their studies at Al-Azhar University.

“MOE and Al-Azhar Al-Sharif have signed an agreement on academic and culture on November 18, 1999, in an effort to improve the Malaysian students’ intake into Al-Azhar University.

“Through the agreement, MOE has been responsible for conducting the STAM examination with the cooperation of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif. The higher religious certificate has been coordinated according to the Maahad Bu`uth Islamiyyah curriculum developed by Al-Azhar entirely,” he said.

He said this in a speech at the Iftar Ramadan event in conjunction with the World Al-Azhar Day celebration and the 10th Anniversary of the World Association for Al-Azhar Graduates Malaysia (WOAG Malaysia). Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Senator Datuk Idris Ahmad and WOAG Malaysia president Prof Datuk Mohd Fakhrudin Abdul Mukti were also in attendance.

Radzi said through the agreement, STAM graduates could use the certificate to apply for admission to Al-Azhar University and institutions of higher learning in the country in the field of Islamic Studies and Arabic.

He said for the period 2000 to 2020, a total of 125,600 candidates had sat for STAM.

In the meantime, he said Al-Azhar alumni in Malaysia had brought changes to the Islamic education system in the country, including introducing the Azhari curriculum which was widely implemented in state religious schools as well as private religious schools.

“For the purpose of curriculum coordination, MOE has collaborated with the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and the state religious authorities to coordinate the Azhari curriculum for each state and develop the Dini (early) Integrated Curriculum (KBD) as the national curriculum from Form One to Form Five.

“This coordination involves more structured teaching and learning process to produce students who are balanced and excellent in academics and religion. This balance can provide a generation of Islamic scholars who can compete at the world level,” he said. — Bernama