Sir, when the Compulsory Education Act was implemented in 2003, MOE implemented a minimum academic benchmark for madrasah students, requiring them to attain a PSLE aggregate higher than the average PSLE aggregate score of Malay students in the six-lowest performing national primary schools. It was deemed necessary for madrasah students to meet this benchmark to ensure that they will be able to complete their primary education and will possess the minimum academic standards required for them to qualify for secondary school.
Regrettably, a madrasah was not able to meet MOE’s benchmark in 2008 and 2010, which resulted in the madrasah being barred from taking in Primary 1 students from 2012 to 2014. Aside from that, all madrasahs have been able to meet MOE’s benchmark. In fact, the PSLE results of madrasah students in the past two years have been extremely encouraging.
Through the efforts of the madrasah administrators and teachers, and support from both MUIS and MOE, madrasahs have become private educational institutions that provide quality education to its students.
Although the MOE benchmark was borne out of good intentions, it may cause undue stress for the madrasah administrators and teachers, as well as for madrasah students and their parents. This is because the MOE benchmark disallows a madrasah to take in Primary 1 pupils for three years if it fails to meet the benchmark. A madrasah that cannot take in new students may find it difficult to continue operating as a private education institution.
As such, I would like to ask that MOE work with MUIS and the madrasahs to review the necessity of this benchmark, and to consider either removing it completely or easing the benchmark. Alternatively, instead of the two mentioned options, the ministry could also consider issuing warnings to the madrasah that do not meet the benchmark, accompanied by a requirement for them to conduct an independent audit of its practices.