THE upgrading of the state’s religious education institution, Kolej Pengajian Islam Johor (Marsah) to Kolej Universiti Islam Johor, will enhance skills in Islamic-related industries, says Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad.
He said the upgrade to university college was expected to take place by the middle of this year and the institution would focus on five core areas.
“We are hoping to see more innovations in the local halal industry, preaching as well as teaching of Islam, Islamic family and household matters and wakaf (endowment).
“That is why we are looking forward to upgrading Marsah into Kolej Universiti Islam Johor this year,” Hasni said in his speech at the 20th convocation ceremony in Pusat Islam Iskandar, Johor Baru.
He said this was in line with the state government’s plan to produce more skilled graduates.
“This will strengthen Islamic education, aside from making the programmes internationally recognised.
“It will also open doors to academic cooperation with other education institutions within the country and overseas,” he said, adding that the university college would also be the centre for Arabic language studies with the cooperation of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.
Hasni said aside from Middle Eastern countries, its international relations programme would attract students and lecturers from Singapore, Indonesia, Britain, New Zealand and Australia.
“We are also planning to build the Baitul Hilal Astronomy Centre in Pontian within the next five years.
“It will be equipped with the latest technology, making it the most advanced observatory centre in South-East Asia,” he said, adding that this would help produce graduates in planetary science.
Meanwhile, Marsah rector Prof Dr Hussin Salamon said the institution was planning to offer more programmes with the help of other universities in the country.
“We are planning to introduce new diploma programmes this year for religious sermon management, tahfiz education and online Islamic teaching.
“We also plan to offer degree programmes for early childhood education as well as Shariah and Usuluddin (Islamic Studies).
“All these programmes are subject to approval from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency, Higher Education Ministry and relevant bodies,” he said, adding that Marsah planned to introduce degree programmes for halal management and halal shariah as well.
On the halal industry programme, Prof Hussin said Marsah was working closely with Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali in Brunei.
“We are also collaborating with Brunei Darussalam Halal Development Centre, Osaka University in Japan, Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Johor Toyyiban Laboratories Sdn Bhd and the Johor Islamic Religious Department,” he added.