40% tahfiz schools do not comply with safety measures

Wan-Mohd-Nor-tahfizLABUAN: The Fire and Rescue Department has discovered that over 40% of the 1,657 tahfiz (Islamic religious) schools in the country have not complied with safety requirements, says its director-general Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim.

He said the department had a list of religious schools operating across the country, comprising 515 sekolah pondok, 1,657 tahfiz centres and schools and 1,666 sekolah agama rakyat (people’s religious schools), and it had checked a total of 702 of these schools so far.

“We usually check only registered schools and centres, but now we have decided to ensure that all religious schools, including the unregistered ones, comply with the safety requirements,” he said at a press conference here today after attending an awards presentation ceremony.

Wan Mohd Nor also said the department would impose strict rules pertaining to school hostel structures.

He said a total of 144 notices had been issued to the various managements of tahfiz schools on the need for full compliance with building safety aspects, including electrical wiring and exits.

He said the school managements had been given a maximum of six months to fully comply with the department’s specifications.

Wan Mohd Nor said the department would submit a full report to the government on Oct 23, including on the recommendations for improvement of these religious schools.

“Based on our checks, we found a number of weaknesses that need immediate attention, such as door grilles and windows not in accordance with the department’s specifications.

“They were also found to have not provided fire extinguishers as well as smoke detectors and the electrical wiring was not in good and proper condition,” he said.

Wan Mohd Nor said the department had so far set up 236 fire squad centres, including in Sekolah Madrasah Tahfiz Al Quran Sri Merinding Labuan, comprising 3, 500 members.