Do not be fooled by the Asatizah Recognition Scheme
PM Lee spoke at length about the ARS in Malay during his National day Rally Speech. What is it really? We hear whispering that it is just another way to keep the Muslim Community in check. Is it really?
Let us take a look at some facts surrounding the ARS.
What is the ARS?
The Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) was set up to enhance the standing of our religious teachers (asatizah) and to serve as a reliable source of reference for the Singapore Muslim community.
Recognition is granted only to qualified Islamic religious teachers and scholars who meet the minimum standards of qualification to preach and teach Islamic religious knowledge either at madrasahs, mosques, private institutions, Muslim organisations or residences in Singapore. The application of recognition is decided by the Asatizah Recognition Board.
Is this a new scheme?
The ARS has been around for the past 10 years. The difference is that now, this scheme that helps Muslim Singaporeans assess and recognise qualified asatizah, or religious teachers, will be expanded and will reach out to all asatizah
Why is the government pushing so hard for this scheme to be implemented?
It was actually a bottom up approach. Idea initially came from veteran asatizas and PERGAS (Singapore Islamic Scholar & Religious Teachers Association).
Since it has served the community well for the past decade and with the numbers of asatizahs and students looking for certified asatizahs growing significantly, it has reached the level where it can move from being voluntary, to one that is compulsory for all asatizahs.
What makes you say there is overwhelming support by the MM community for the ARS? – People we talked to all said that it is part of the politics played by the PAP!
Currently, over 80% of our asatizah community volunteered for the ARS. This overwhelming number shows the support of the fraternity and community for the scheme. ( Not sure about the people you talked to 🙂
Ultimately the ARS is not about regulation. It is about our unity as a community and our commitment to be resilient against harmful views and ideologies (e.g participating in armed conflict overseas in the name of Islam)
How does the asatizah community benefit from the ARS?
Four key benefits:
1 – Regular training so that religious teachers can upgrade and develop themselves.
2 – Provides a network for asatizah to interact and co-create programmes to serve the community
3 – To ensure that only recognised asatizah are allowed to preach and guide the community (i.e Prevent false / radicalised preachers). This gives assurance to parents that the young ones receive proper religious education from the onset from teachers with the necessary qualifications.
4 – Religious education providers will be able to hire more staff who are qualified to teach, for the long run.
How about Quran lessons by home-based teachers. They just teach Arabic and do not preach anything. Are they required to register for ARS too?
Quran teachers have thus far, been encouraged to register themselves under the Quran Teachers Recognition Scheme (QTRS), an initiative also under the ARS since 2009 to recognise those who are qualified to teach Quranic lessons in Singapore.
MUIS and ARS will continue to review the QTRS so that it remains relevant and useful for the Muslim community in Singapore.
More about the ARS courses here
Look at the facts.
Is this a harmful scheme to have in our community? Are our community worse off with the ARS?
You be the judge.