Friday, January 18, 2013

Feature: A New Paradigm on Madrasah Education in Singapore


Assalamualaikum wr wbr 

Allow me to begin by congratulating our 16 Asatizah who would be attending a 3-week attachment programme in Darul Ifta, Cairo. Darul Ifta or the Office of the Grand Mufti of Egypt is a renowned and revered institution with a strong Islamic tradition in research and scholarly work on contemporary and emerging issues, and well-known for its progressive fatwa. 

 When I attended the Al-Azhar Graduation Ceremony for our Singaporean students in October 2011, I met the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomaa. I raised with him the possibility of a training programme for our asatizah. Today, it has come true, alhamdullillah. I am grateful to the Grand Mufti. The Overseas Attachment Programme is the apex in training for our asatizah who have successfully completed the Basic and Advanced Asatizah Executive Development Programmes (AEDP), and substantial engagement with local and international scholars. 

Learned asatizah play a crucial role in our community’s religious life. They need to be domain specialists, and at the same time capable of guiding the community to deal with diversity, challenges and emerging issues. This progressiveness is a hallmark of the Singapore Muslim community, and I would like to encourage more of our asatizah to take advantage of the training and development programmes offered by MUIS to be better-equipped to manage the challenges and support our community’s future. 

MUIS has implemented many initiatives to build a religiously profound and progressive Singaporean Muslim 
community in our multi-religious society. Going upstream, it is also equally important that our madrasah education evolves to equip our young with both knowledge and skills to face the future. Our asatizah of the future not only need to be deeply rooted in the teachings of the Quran and Hadith but also be able to apply various strands of knowledge for critical thinking and progressive problem-solving.  

Joint Madrasah Education System (JMS)
We made a bold step to strengthen our full-time madrasah education when we introduced the Joint Madrasah System (JMS) in 2008. Madrasah Irsyad, Madrasah Aljunied and Madrasah Al-Arabiah came together for this forward-looking joint initiative with specialisation as a key strategy. With this move, Madrasah Irsyad offers primarylevel schooling and acts as a feeder school to Madrasah Aljunied and Madrasah Al-Arabiah. Madrasah Aljunied offers the ukhrawi (religious) stream based on the Al Azhar University model, for those who are stronger in Arabic and Islamic studies. Madrasah Arabiah offers the academic stream, which provides an Islamic environment for students to pursue national curriculum subjects and eventually join the national post-secondary system. JMS allows students to be streamed according to their ability, aptitude and interest.

Ukhrawi Stream at Madrasah Aljunied
Since the JMS launch, key leaders of the 3 madrasahs have met MUIS regularly to look at how the Azhar curriculum could be enhanced. I am happy to learn that the curriculum has been refreshed and a new integrated curriculum will be introduced. The 18 ukhrawi subjects currently offered will be integrated into 6 subject groupings.

This will strengthen the inter- and intra-disciplinary learning, and allow students more time to go deeper into subject areas. There will be an enhanced focus on new and emerging issues. A new module called “Islam and Society” will expose our students to contemporary issues like gender, poverty, environment, economics, inter-faith, and human rights, which are reflective of the varied and connected challenges that real life presents us.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP)
To further strengthen the new ukhrawi or Azhar curriculum, the madrasahs worked with MUIS to explore other qualifications that shared the same emphasis on integration, contextualization and inquiry-based learning. Having studied the various educational models, they are considering introducing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

This new feature of the Ukhrawi stream introduces a through-train programme for selected students who will 
graduate with both the Aliyyah and IB diploma qualifications, instead of the “O” level examinations. The IB curriculum was chosen as it allows for the integration of both the Azhar curriculum and the academic curriculum, resulting in a more robust and balanced curriculum for our madrasahs. With the IB qualifications, our students will have more options for their tertiary education not only at Al-Azhar University but also at other Islamic universities in the region, Middle East as well as other non-traditional countries.

Students’ Activities and Enrichment Programmes
Apart from curriculum changes at both Madrasah Aljunied and Al-Arabiah, students’ learning will also be 
enhanced through targeted enrichment programmes. For example, Madrasah Aljunied students will be offered the Islamic Finance Qualifications (IFQ) course commissioned by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), UK. The CISI is a reputed professional institution in the securities and investment industry in the UK which is recognized globally as well as by local financial institutions including the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). 

Students from Madrasah Al-Arabiah will be working closely with various science-based institutions such as the Institute of Bio-Engineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) so as to do more science related research work. These are just some of the many exciting enrichment programmes planned for our students. 

The JMS reflects a new paradigm in madrasah education in Singapore. It is a bold attempt to develop a world class madrasah education that is on par and connected with the Singapore Education landscape. The underlying philosophy embodies an integrated and holistic learning of both religious and academic subjects, rooted in progressive Islamic traditions as well as the Singaporean mission of developing every student to the best of his or her potential.

I am confident that the enhancements to the JMS will help to transform our full-time madrasah into institutions 
that nurture the spirit of thinking, inquiry, creativity and innovation in our future asatizah and ulama (scholars). Let us pray for Allah’s continued guidance in our journey to build a progressive Singapore Muslim community of excellence through this series of exciting enhancements to our madrasah system. 

Wabillahi taufiq walhidayah, wassalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakahtu 

Thank you.


"Moral Governance"

English - "Good governance for a progressive and peaceful BARMM."

Sinama - "Hap pamarinta tudju BARMM na sambu maka salamat"

Bahasa Sug - "Dan mabuntul tudju pa BARMM masambu iban mahatul"

Meranaw - "Mathitu a kandatu sa BARMM ko katagompiya go kalilintad"


"Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE)"