SINGAPORE: From Jan 1 next year, all individuals who provide Islamic education must be registered with Singapore's Islamic Religious Council or MUIS, under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) and religious teachers who have not registered will have up till the end of March to do so.
Changes to the scheme were announced by the Asatizah Recognition Board (ARB) and Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) at a media briefing on Thursday (Dec 29).
The move is to ensure all Islamic religious teachers are equipped with the appropriate qualifications and training, and have a strong understanding of Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious context. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had expressed support for making the scheme mandatory in his National Day Rally speech in August.
To be certified under this scheme, religious teachers must complete 30 hours of modules under MUIS. All Islamic education centres will also be required to register with MUIS and can only hire religious teachers who are certified.
Those who do not immediately meet the academic qualification requirements for ARS will have an up to three years' grace period to qualify. Teachers undergoing such programmes will be granted provisional ARS recognition so that they can teach basic subjects such as Quranic literacy and basic Islamic rituals, to facilitate their continued employment.
Religious teachers and education centres which fail to comply with these rules may be penalised by MUIS. "Of course, the most important approach is to engage those who might have not fulfil these conditions. There will be remedial measures to encourage them to take all the corrective steps to ensure that they’re in compliance," said Dr Nazirudin Nasir, MUIS’ director of Religious Policy and Development.
"But in cases where there are really errant practices or individuals or centres, there will be penalties that will be imposed on them to ensure it will give credibility to the system. These penalties will only be meted out as a deterrent and as last resort”.
To promote community awareness, MUIS will maintain an online register of ARS-approved asatizah at www.ars.sg.