State education committee chairman Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zain during a Kedah State Legislative Assembly session.

ALOR STAR: The Kedah government will continue its intensive campaign to urge private Islamic religious schools, both maahad tahfiz and pondok schools, in the state to register themselves with the government.

State education committee chairman Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zain said such a move is necessary to ensure that school buildings meet the basic safety requirements and prevent any untoward incidents such as fire from taking place.

“For example, construction at some pondok schools or renovations carried out at school buildings are done without taking into consideration safety aspects.

“The state Works Department only conducts periodical checks at the Islamic religious schools and government-aided religious schools registered with the government.

“This enables us to issue warnings and advice on necessary actions that the school management must take if elements of negligence are found,” he said.

He was asked to comment on the fire at Pusat Tahfiz Darul Ittifaqiyah, Kampung Datuk Keramat earlier today.

He said Kedah has gleaned lessons from the fire which struck SM Taufikiah Khairiah Al-Halimiah, better known as Pondok Pak Ya, in Yan in 1989, which killed 27 students.

Earlier today, 150 headmasters and teachers from private ‘pondok’ schools and ‘maahad taahfiz’ attended a fire safety talk organised the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) at the Grand Alora Hotel here.

Fire and Rescue Department Fire Safety division assistant director Mohd Zaidi Maat delivered a talk on building safety issues concerning pondok schools and maahad tahfiz in the northern states.

Meanwhile, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah extended his condolences to the victims and families of the fire tragedy in Selangor.

He said the tragedy dredged up memories of the fire at Pondok Pak Ya.

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