Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said it was vital for the relevant authorities to closely monitor the mushrooming number of private Islamic religious schools and the issues arising from such schools. Pix by Azhar Ramli

KANGAR: Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said it was vital for the relevant authorities to closely monitor the mushrooming number of private Islamic religious schools and the issues arising from such schools.

Also known as Maza, he said issues such as fire, abuse, death of students and other safety issues related to such schools need to be addressed in order to save the future of Muslim children.

He said there were many private Islamic religious schools, be it pondok schools or maahad tahfiz, which abide by Education Ministry regulations and provide quality services in term of the teachers’ qualification, syllabus and learning environment.

In general, he added, such schools registered under the ministry were well managed academically and had proper facilities.

However, he pointed out that there were also a number of private Islamic schools which were set up based on some individuals’ personal agenda and failed to meet the ministry’s basic standard.

“There are some quarters who have set up private religious schools for their own interest, where they misuse the school’s name to collect donations and funds.

“The absence of committees to audit and manage the funds collected by the management would create opportunity for unscrupulous parties to use the money for personal gain.

“In the end, the owner lives in luxury with the well-wishers donations while the school continues to operate in a dilapidated condition. To make things worse, in some cases the students were sent to the streets to collect donations from public,” he said in a press statement here today.

Earlier, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh expressed his deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of the 21 pupils and two wardens who perished in the fire which destroyed a tahfiz school in Datuk Keramat, Kuala Lumpur before dawn today.

Idris said it was high time for the safety procedures at private religious schools be increased to prevent a recurring tragedy.

“This is a serious matter as it involves the lives of many. It is crucial for these private schools to constantly monitor and boost their safety measures,” he said in a press conference at the launching of Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) TV at Jejawi today.

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