Wednesday 21 November 2012

S'wak DAP rep irked over minister's refusal to answer question on Christian children forced to learn Islamic teaching

Sarawak DAP assemblyperson for Padungan, Wong King Wei, has expressed deep disappointment over the refusal of state Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Fatimah Abdullah to answer his supplementary question on an allegation that Dayak children were being forced to learn Islamic teaching.

NONE“I asked the question on whether there was any truth to the allegation,” Wong (right) told media personnel.

“I have been told that Islamic teaching is made a compulsory subject in Kemas pre-schools, so I asked the minister whether it is true that is the case. But the minister refused to  give an answer.

“We are worried over the alleged move to make Islamic teaching as a compulsory subject in pre-school classes in the state, where the majority of the pupils are Dayaks who are mostly Christians,” he said.

He said that 95 percent of the pupils who attend such pre-schools in the rural areas are Dayaks and the majority of them are Christians.

“We are worried by this move of the federal government which is condoned by the state government.

“A lot of pre-school classes have been set up in the state. There are 352 such classes in Kuching which are set up in Dayak areas.

“So far 21,208 pupils have been registered for these classes,” he said.

Wong called on the state government to stop this move of making Islamic teaching a compulsory subject in Tadika classes.

“It is a dangerous move in Sarawak. We are very worried about it,” Wong added.

Fatimah: Islamic teaching not taught to non-Muslims 

Meanwhile, Fatimah told the press that there has never been any case of Muslim teachers trying to influence non-Muslim pre-schoolers to accept Islamic teaching.

“My ministry has investigated claims of such incidents as raised by (Ba’Kelalan assemblyperson) Baru Bian during the last sitting of the Dewan in May.

“Islamic teachings were not taught to non-Muslim children in Kemas pre-schools and they were also not forced to participate in Muslim prayers as claimed,” she said after the second day of the sitting of the Dewan Undangan Negeri.

NONEFatimah (right) pointed out that forcing non-Muslim students to accept Islamic teaching is not the education philosophy in this country.

“We focus on individual holistic development, which consists of intellectual, cognitive and spiritual aspects, but in accordance with the students’ respective religions.

“The government’s main priority in pre-schools is to provide access and equity of early childhood education to all races in both the rural and urban areas to provide a head start and strong foundation to develop an individual,” she said.

However, the government is closely monitoring such classes to ensure that teachers would not violate the trust upon them on religious teaching in Kemas pre-schools, she added.

There are 1,462  Kemas pre-schools classes  in the state, with Kuching heading the list with 305, Samarahan ( 224), Sri Aman (78), Betong (147),  Sarikei (77), Sibu (155), Kapit (77) Mukah (154), Bintulu (48), Miri (109) and  Limbang (88).

Of the 21,208 pupils, 21,045 are bumiputera and while there are 163 non-bumiputera.

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