PETALING JAYA – The government should form a Royal Commission of Inquiry or an independent task force to assess Madrasah Tahfiz Al-Jauhar (MTAJ) in Kota Tinggi, Johor, says a parents’ group.

The call came after the death of 11-year-old Mohd Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi yesterday, after allegedly suffering abuse at MTAJ.

“We wish to see a thorough assessment of the teachers, teaching qualifications and skills, quality of staff and the school’s curriculum,” Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Noor Azimah Rahim said in a press statement today.

Azimah also demanded that the school’s living conditions, safety standards as well as the sources of funding should also be investigated.

She called for every private tahfiz (religious education) school to be registered under the respective state religious departments and for them to undergo similar assessment.

It was reported earlier that PAGE wants local communities to band together and report if any abuse of schoolchildren was happening within their community.

“Parents must listen to their children and know who their friends are and always be in contact with their friends’ parents,” she said while adding that constant interaction and communication is important to curb child abuse.

Azimah said severe beatings of children happened in all types of schools but people in the know were often reluctant to speak up because they were afraid of the repercussions.

“People must not be afraid to speak up. Go to the teacher and if the teacher does nothing, go to the principal. If the principal does nothing, then go to the state education department.

“Write (to the relevant authorities) about it and if still nothing happens, then go to the media. In the case of Thaqif, it was the media that had taken the matter very seriously,” she added.

Thaqif was admitted to the Sultan Ismail Hospital a week ago after he was allegedly beaten by an assistant warden at the school.

On Friday, doctors amputated his legs in a bid to stop bacterial infection from spreading to tissues and blood cells in the rest of his body. He fell into a coma on Saturday.

Doctors then found that his right hand had turned black because bacterial infection and blood clots had formed in his left shoulder. They told his family that the arm had turned necrotic.

He was due for further surgery to amputate his right arm yesterday morning, but this was postponed as his heart was unstable. However, after few hours, Thaqif succumbed to his illness and was pronounced dead at 2.06pm.