NDR 2016: Compulsory registration for all Islamic religious teachers in Singapore

All Islamic religious leaders in Singapore will need to be registered under ARS scheme.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) will be made compulsory for all Islamic religious teachers in the Republic.

The ARS recognises teachers and scholars who meet the minimum standards of qualification to preach and teach Islamic religious knowledge in Singapore. While the ARS has been implemented, it is not compulsory currently. In the past decade, 80 per cent of local religious teachers have been accredited under ARS.

Under the revised scheme, all Islamic religious teachers in Singapore must be registered, PM Lee said in Malay at the National Day Rally on Sunday (21 August).

Lee said that the Singapore Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), the Singapore Islamic Scholars, Religious Teachers Association (PERGAS) and the Asatizah Recognition Board will be working together to make ARS compulsory, adding that it was a good move by the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore.

The implementation would mean that Muslim religious leaders are able to guide and teach students in line with Singapore’s context as a multi-racial and multi-religious country, Lee said.

“Our teachers need to understand the context on how Islam is being practised in Singapore and for those who studied overseas, we have programmes conducted by the MUIS Academy and RSIS (S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies) to understand the issues and context under the ARS.”

There were instances when foreign preachers come to Singapore without knowing the context of the Republic’s multi-racial society, Lee added.

“They criticised other religions and there were times when they also criticised their own followers for not following certain practices of the religion, which could be dangerous for Singapore.

“The government, therefore, needs to be consistent and assertive to all religions to ensure religious harmony” he said.