Government to help madrasahs improve quality of education

A group of students from Wak Tanjong Madrasah.
A group of students from Wak Tanjong Madrasah. PHOTO: MASARASAH WAK TANJONG

The Muslim community is keen to improve the quality of education at its full-time religious schools, or madrasahs, and the Government is studying how to help it do so for secular subjects.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in disclosing this yesterday, said: "If we are ready, I should have something to say by the National Day Rally in a few weeks' time."

He was speaking to reporters at a Hari Raya dinner hosted by Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim for community and religious leaders.

Mr Lee noted that, even though madrasahs are not part of the national school system, they play an important role in shaping the Singapore Muslim community.

Earlier, Dr Yaacob said in his speech: "We want to strengthen our madrasahs because... they not only produce good religious leaders and teachers who understand and appreciate our multiracial and multi-religious context - they also provide students with a good grounding in secular subjects."

He noted that they had been continually improving themselves to deliver higher-quality education.

Welcoming government help, Mr Razak Mohamed Lazim, a senior director for madrasahs at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), said: "This is one of the best Hari Raya gifts the madrasah sector can have for the community."

Mr Lee, who was attending the annual dinner for the first time, said he found the mood very positive. "It's a small gesture for me to be able to say the Government is on the side of the community."

The Government is working with the community to help it progress in fields ranging from education to employment, Mr Lee said.

He added that the Government is also lending a hand when it comes to religious issues, citing Muis and the Mosque Building Fund.

When asked about the People's Action Party's Malay candidates, Mr Lee replied in Malay that it has some candidates for the upcoming polls, and they are on a par with its other candidates.

Dr Yaacob also told reporters: "Our talent base has increased. More importantly, there are talented young men and women who are prepared to come forward and serve. That's a very good sign for us.

"I'm quite happy with the team and, in time, we'll tell you who they are. I hope, with them on our team, we can work together to get better results for our community."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2015, with the headline 'Government to help madrasahs improve quality of education'. Print Edition | Subscribe