KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — The Education Ministry has given its full support for possible amendments to the Education Act as an immediate measure to regulate and coordinate registration of private tahfiz schools nationwide.
Its minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said changes to the Education Act 1996 (Act 550) would enable action to be taken against tahfiz schools more effectively through collaboration with the federal and state governments.
“All of these religious schools are registered with the state religious departments and do not fall under the purview of the ministry as they are not registered as public or private institutions,” he said at the handing over of donations to families of victims of last Thursday’s fire at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school yesterday.
The recommendation to amend the Act was raised during the first tahfiz special task force meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Tuesday.
Ahmad Zahid said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom would handle the discussion between the federal and state governments in the initial stages.
Mahdzir also said the biggest challenge in cracking down on social ills among students was the cultivation of positive societal values.
“We need to nurture a high-cultured society. I would not say that our values have entirely collapsed, instead they have been tainted by external factors,” he said.
Mahdzir said the ministry was aware of the disciplinary hotspots among schools nationwide after a list of 402 schools was made public last month.
“The problem nowadays is that drugs are getting widespread. We are working tirelessly with the police and National Anti-Drugs Agency to address these concerns through rehabilitation programmes,” he said.
A team of nine police forensics personnel went to the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school yesterday to gather additional samples from the scene of the fire.
They left half an hour later.
On Tuesday, police continued their investigations at the school aided by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drone.
The drone had been deployed to capture images of the building and its surrounding areas at Kampung Datuk Keramat.
Twenty-one students and two teachers were killed in the fire, which swept through the third floor of the building.
Police arrested seven teenagers suspected to have started the fire. They have been remanded until Friday.