KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 ― The education ministry has said that it has registered some Islamic religious schools and tahfiz schools and has not meddled with the syllabus in these schools.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said the registrations were currently on a voluntary basis, but added that the ministry hopes to make such registrations mandatory.
“The ministry has registered many religious schools which have voluntarily come forward and we didn't meddle with their syllabus.
“We made sure they go through safety and security inspections conducted by government agencies under the ministry,” he was quoted telling local daily New Straits Times.
“The main reason why some schools don't want or refuse to be registered under the ministry is because they want to continue to operate independently and maintain their syllabus,” he added.
Kamalanathan also noted that most Islamic religious schools came under the jurisdiction of different states and were registered with the respective states' religious departments.
Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, the tahfiz school in Kuala Lumpur where a Thursday pre-dawn fire killed 21 students and two dormitory wardens, reportedly did not register with the education ministry and did not have the Fire and Rescue Department's approval to start using the building.
Just five months ago, the death of a 11-year-old student Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi similarly sparked attention on tahfiz schools.
The newly-created Federation of National Associations of al-Quran Tahfiz Institutions (Pinta) told Malay Mail in April that only 670 out of around 1,200 tahfiz schools nationwide are registered.
In May, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said around 270 religious schools had registered with his ministry, noting that not all private Islamic schools were similarly registered with the ministry as religion was a matter that fall under the states' jurisdiction.
Today, local dailies reported however multiple tahfiz schools and Islamic religious schools in different states that were not registered with the respective Islamic departments.
According to Berita Harian's compilation today, Johor's Islamic department recorded 15 tahfiz schools and three other private Islamic schools that have yet to be registered, while 25 Islamic schools including one tahfiz school in Kuala Terengganu were unregistered.
In the same compilation, 15 out of 64 tahfiz schools in Perak have yet to register with the state's religious authority, while Melaka had 11 schools including nine tahfiz schools that were registered, while 38 other Islamic schools there were unregistered and had buildings considered risky.
Only three out of 163 religious schools in Kelantan were reported to have clearance from the Fire and Rescue Department, while the department issued support letters to 146 of those schools that were registered with the state's Islamic bodies after the operators renovated the building structure and improved their wiring systems.