Too little too late! Why do religious councils act only after deaths have occurred in tahfiz schools? Some heads must roll. Close down the tahfiz schools.

Tahfiz schools!

Several children have died over the years, from assaults, beatings and fires at tahfiz schools. There are also serious allegations of sodomy in the schools. There are allegations that the children are sent outside the schools, to solicit donations from the public. What did the previous government do about these allegations? They swept them under the carpet.

How will this government deal with tahfiz schools? With kid gloves…because they will be too scared to punish the wrongdoers.

Tahfiz schools are a law unto themselves

Accounts: Tahfiz schools receive donations from the public and over the years, successive governments have given them several hundreds of millions of ringgits. Are their accounts audited? Who keeps the books? Do the donors or the parents know how the money donated by the public, is spent? Is all the money spent on the schools, or has some of it been diverted?

Qualifications: Are the teachers qualified? Where did they get their qualifications? Attap school? From an extremist preacher on the internet? Who vets the teachers? Who vets the wardens? Who gives the permit for someone to open this type of school? We should not have a two-tiered system of education. Religious schools should come under the ministry of education. to ensure a uniform standard of education for the Malaysina children

Welfare: When the school takes in boarders, who  vets the wardens, who decides on the food, its quality, preparation etc? What about the dormitories? What about fire escapes, fire doors within the dormitories, fire extinguishers and fire drills etc? Possibly a sprinkler system and emergency lighting. Every adult who works with the children, should be vetted by the police for past criminal offences. Especially assaults on children, sexual or otherwise. These adults should not be allowed to work in the school, in any capacity.

Inspections: How often do school inspectors, or JAKIM, the institution which deserves to be banned, inspect the schools or do spot checks? How often does the Ministry of Education inspect these schools? Once, twice or never? Are the reports made public?

Curriculum: What else do the children learn besides memorising the koran? How can they become productive Malaysians when they leave school, if they have not been exposed to other subjects and other races in the community? Which curriculum do they follow? The Malaysian education school curriculum or the Saudi Arabia or Pakistan school of intolerance?

Successive governments have NOT made any real changes because deaths of children still occur. The former Minister for Islamic Affairs, Jamil Khir Baharom was a waste of space. What did he do to improve conditions in the schools? Will the current Minister for Islamic Affairs perform any better?

The leaders merely shut down the schools. We lurch from one death to another. LESSONS were NEVER LEARNT.

Another death

Yesterday, it was reported that 7-year-old Muhammad Aimin Nurul Amin, who had enrolled  at a newly opened but unregistered tahfiz school in Temerloh was found by a warden, with bruises on his shoulder, hip and face, and rushed to a clinic in Lanchang, Temerloh but died on arrival at around 3 pm on Friday 8 November.

He had allegedly been assaulted by his schoolmates. The Pahang Criminal Investigation Department chief, Othman Nanyan, confirmed the arrest of three 13-year-old students as suspects.

One boy dies, everybody rushes in to help, do a bit of damage control and they wring their hands, cry their eyes out, say, why did this have to happen blah blah blah. Too little, too late. 

Knee Jerk reaction

Following the boy’s death, the Pahang Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MUIP) ordered the closure of the tahfiz school.

This is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Closing down the school is an acknowledgement that something is seriously wrong.

The MUIP deputy president ,Wan Abdul Wahid Wan Hassan, said, “I have already signed the directive for the tahfiz school to be closed immediately.” 

So, will the school be closed, or will it reopen in another location, or will the directive be ignored.  We know in Malaysia, that it is “business as usual”.

Wan Abdul Wahid said that the centre, which had been operating since January, had not applied for approval from the council, and added, “It is not like the operator was ignorant of the law. You need to get permission to run such a centre.”

Was he only just told, or had he known all along?

In Malaysia, Ketuanan Melayu makes all Malays think that they are above the law.

The owner or headmaster of the school, may well have thought that tahfiz schools are above the law.  This is because in Malaysia, the Umno-Baru & PAS brand of Islam has been interpreted to mean that they can do anything they want. The law does not apply to them. 

The problem lies with us. We do not push the politicians enough and enforcement  is haphazard or non-existent.

The school was managed by a local who depended on funds from the public. It had 14 students, whose ages ranged from seven to 13. Four of them, including the boy who died, boarded at the school.

Wan Abdul Wahid said, “We could not ascertain the qualification of one of the centre’s teachers.” He claimed that the safety of tahfiz centres was its main priority before the schools are given the green light to operate.

Who should be held responsible?

Heads must roll. There have been too many deaths in tahfiz schools.

I will give you a list. You tell me who to apportion blame. All of the people listed below or none of them or just a few of them.

a. The parents.

b. The school head.

c. The warden(s)

d. The teachers

e. The owner of the tahfiz school

f. The state religious authority

g. Pengarah of the state education department 

h. The Education Minister, Maszlee Malik

i. The Minister for Religious Affairs, Mujahid Yusof Rawa.

j. JAKIM

k. Minister for Women, Family and Community Development, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

l. Anyone else?

m. The previous ministers of the various portfolios above eg Jamil Khir Baharom, must also be held responsible for doing very little during their tenure. 

n. All of the above

o. None of the above

Why send children to tahfiz schools? 

Why do some parents send their precious children to these tahfiz centres? In the fire at a tahfiz school in Kampung Datuk Keramat, 21 children and two wardens died. The people who were negligent and should have been responsible for the safety aspects of the school, tried to deflect attention from themselves, by saying, “The children are in heaven. God is great. It was fate.”

In the case of Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi who died after being abused at his tahfiz school, the people who were negligent tried to evade reality, by telling the parents, that the boy looked so peaceful and he was in heaven.

Any parent who beleives this cock and bull story is too naive. The people who say this are irresponsible and are trying to manipulate the parents. They will also try and avoid scrutiny and will eventually apportion blame away from themselves.

The people who are negligent, like the school head, the owner of the tahfiz school or the religious body which should have checked the school, JAKIM, the state religious authority, the Education Minister, the Minister for Religious affairs, all of them have a hand in allowing the tragedies to be repeated.

They will NOT act, so you and I will have to demand action.

How many more deaths can you accept before a responsible and courageous person, demands that the law is enforced?

Too many irresponsible tahfiz school teachers, headmasters and owners, including the religious leaders, have escaped scot-free.

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  • Jim Lim says:

    Like many tragedies against children, especially those committed by individuals hiding behind or protected by established institutions, only a public outcry and genuine commitment to real reform and change will be problem stand a chance of being addressed.
    The matter of race & religion is so sensitive that change to protect such defenceless children is a challenge

  • double tree says:

    The matter will not be solved. One Malay will not deny another the opportunity to make some money even if it means breaking the law. Just see the facts of the problem yourself. The problem was highlighted in a CNA report but it appears no one in Malaysia has seen it or even if they have, have taken any action. So students continue to suffer, their parents lose money but the religious crooks make lots and lots of money. And the authorities are blind to all this. That is why I say Malays will not deny another the opportunity to make money even if it means breaking the law.

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