SINGAPORE - A scheme to endorse qualified Islamic teachers here will become mandatory from this Sunday (Jan 1), with a comprehensive register of these teachers being made available online to ensure the Muslim community knows who to turn to for credible religious advice.
But religious teachers who have yet to register by then will have until March 31 to do so.
Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) chief executive Abdul Razak Maricar, giving more details about the Asatizah Recognition Scheme at a media briefing on Thursday, said making it mandatory will assure the Muslim community that they are receiving reliable religious guidance.
"This is particularly important in today's context, in which there's a need to present contextualised teachings, guard against extreme and exclusivist teachings, and problematic teachers," he added.
The scheme was started in 2005 as a voluntary scheme, at the suggestion of Islamic scholars and religious teachers here.
Muslim community leaders earlier this year urged that it should be made compulsory - a call welcomed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally.
Since then, Muis has been working with the Asatizah Recognition Board and the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association to make it so.
So far, about 2,500, or over 80 per cent, of those providing Islamic instruction, including reading the Quran, have signed up and will be listed as qualified teachers online at www.ars.sg.
Mr Abdul Razak said religious teachers who are unable to immediately meet the academic requirements - which include a diploma in Islamic studies from a recognised institution - will have a longer grace period of up to three years.
All Islamic education centres and providers will also be required to register with Muis as well to ensure they employ only teachers endorsed under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme. They have one year to comply.
Muis said that it will engage and counsel errant teachers and centres if they fail to comply with the rules.
But if these parties persist, they may have their recognition status suspended or be shut down.