Registration of Islamic teachers mandatory from Jan 1

Eight out of 10 Islamic religious teachers, or a total of 1,805, are registered under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS), which assesses those qualified to provide Islamic education.

The rest must register before Jan 1 next year, after which registration with the ARS is compulsory.

Meanwhile, those not on the register can go for training to meet the required ARS standard.

Training will be provided by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said in Parliament yesterday.

Teachers have up to a year from Jan 1 to meet criteria.

Those who fail to do so will be barred from providing Islamic education in Singapore in any setting, be it in schools or homes, Dr Yaacob added in his reply to Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).

The move making ARS registration compulsory was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally last month.

Mr Zainal also asked if unregistered teachers found providing Islamic education would be committing an offence.

Dr Yaacob said centres that flout the rules will face consequences, but he did not give details.

He also urged parents to check that the private teachers they engage are registered with the ARS.

He told the House that Muis will draw up rules and regulations to ensure education providers hire only registered teachers.

The ARS, however, "is an inclusive system that recognises asatizah from various schools of thought, so long as they meet the standards and training requirements set by the Asatizah Recognition Board", said Dr Yaacob.

Senior asatizah had called for the ARS, which started in 2005, to be made mandatory 10 years ago. "But our focus at the time was on developing a suite of quality ARS programmes to benefit our asatizah," he said.

With the spread of extremist ideology online, leading to the radicalisation of some Muslim Singaporeans, Muslim community leaders had again called for a strengthening of the ARS.

Dr Yaacob, in his reply to Mr Faisal Manap (Aljunied GRC), said the scheme will also apply to foreigners, such as speakers invited to give talks in Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2016, with the headline 'Registration of Islamic teachers mandatory from Jan 1'. Print Edition | Subscribe