AMENDMENTS may be made to the Education Act 1996 (Act 550), so that tahfiz schools come under the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry.
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said there were already proposals that amendments be made to the Act mainly to bring the religious schools under its purview. The proposals were mainly regarding registration criteria and safety regulations.
“The ministry supports the request of the high-level committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, that will allow us to take action against tahfiz schools (that go against regulations),” he said, after presenting donations to the next of kin of the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school tragedy victims on Wednesday.
Mahdzir was commenting on the proposals presented to the cabinet by the committee which will pave the way for changes to the Act.
They touched on ways to resolve safety issues in such schools, he added.
For a start, there should be closer collaboration between the federal and state government, and especially the Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim), said Mahdzir.
“Only then can further measures be taken to amend the Act,” he added.
Mahdzir did not mention a time frame for the proposed amendments, but said it would depend on the decision by the committee.
While most Islamic religious schools are under the jurisdiction of the state, there are some that have not been registered, he added.
On another matter, Mahdzir said that he did not think there was a total disintegration of values among youth.
“Rather, it has been ‘disrupted’ because of new elements and distractions that exist in today’s world,” he shared, adding that easy access to the Internet is a contributing factor.
“We need to figure out how to raise civic values among our students, and this has become a big challenge for the ministry in today’s fast-moving era,” he added.
“Teachers need to be properly trained and must understand how to inculcate proper values and ethics in students,” Mahdzir said.
He also said teaching the right codes of behaviour should start from early childhood right up to secondary school.
“It needs to be followed through so that we can create a more dynamic and civilised society.”
Mahdzir said the ministry welcomes suggestions from the public and NGOs to tackle the declining morals of school students.
“We will consider (the suggestions), but we need a comprehensive solution especially for urban areas,” he said, adding that the majority of cases involving indiscipline was rampant among the urban poor.
“We have the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 but we need the input to give it ‘added value’,” said the minister.
At the event, the family of each victim received RM5,000 from Yayasan Guru Malaysia Berhad, which has so far donated RM46,000.
It also made a donation to the school.
The Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz fire tragedy claimed the lives of 21 students and two teachers.
Another six were seriously hurt and hospitalised in the tragedy.
The police have arrested seven youth aged between 11 and 18, in connection with the fire.
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