KUALA LUMPUR: Getting private religious schools (tahfiz) to register with state religious departments is a major challenge in the Government's bid to streamline its standards nationwide.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki (pic) said the proposed National Tahfiz Education Policy, a draft of which has been submitted to the Council of Rulers, focuses on developing religious schools to suit the needs of current times.
"It is one of the five core aspects we are focusing on, and while part of it does address ways to provide financial aid to tahfiz schools, our challenge now is to ensure privately-owned schools are registered with state religious departments.
"The Fire and Rescue Department's recent checks were done on 1,238 tahfiz schools but Jakim's statistics show that only 608 of these are registered as of June this year," he said in reply to a supplementary question by Idris Ahmad (PAS - Bukit Gantang) in Parliament on Thursday.
Idris had asked if the Government would consider giving financial aid for students in private tahfiz on a regular basis rather than one-off contributions.
Earlier, Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (BN–Baling) had asked if the Government had a fixed syllabus for tahfiz in Malaysia.
To that, Dr Asyraf said at the moment, private tahfiz had no fixed curriculum and most used the methods taught by the school's teachers, who picked up these methods from the countries they studied in such as Pakistan, India and Turkey.
"The Government is aware that tahfiz schools need a streamlined curriculum to produce high quality graduates across the board, hence the policy is being developed.
"Generally speaking, all teachers of Islamic studies, including those in tahfiz schools, are required to be certified by state religious departments," he said.
On another question by Abdul Azeez on whether Kafa school teachers could be absorbed into religious schools, Dr Asyraf said the qualifications to teach there were different.
"In Kafa schools, a teacher is required to have minimum SPM qualifications, while tahfiz teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree in Islamic studies or other relevant fields," he said.