TAHFIZ schools are in for an “upgrade” with an RM30 million allocation from Putrajaya, Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday night, after the pre-dawn blaze in a religious school dormitory killed 23 people in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday,
Najib said the funds would put an end to claims that the government did not help tahfiz schools.
“For the first time, the government has approved RM30 million for tahfiz schools to upgrade their physical structures.
“And this shoots down certain people’s claims that the government will not help in the development of the tahfiz schools,” Najib told reporters during a visit to Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, the scene of the fire, in Kampung Datuk Keramat.
Najib had just returned from a working trip to the US and UK and had gone straight to the tahfiz centre upon landing at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. He was accompanied by his wife, Rosmah Mansor.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V also visited the school the same night.
Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun escorted the King and the prime minister during the visit.
Twenty-one pupils, aged 11 to 17, and two wardens, died in the pre-dawn fire that destroyed the top floor of the three-storey building where the dormitory was located.
The charred bodies were identified via DNA tests and were buried yesterday evening.
Najib said his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi would chair a meeting on Tuesday to discuss an action plan for tahfiz schools nationwide.
There are hundreds of such schools, where Muslim children learn to recite the Quran, around the country, and the lack of safety measures in many of the school and hostel buildings have long been a cause of public concern.
Since 2015, there have been 211 cases of fire in tahfiz schools nationwide, according to Fire and Rescue Department statistics.
Najib said the tragedy at the Jalan Datuk Keramat tahfiz school could have been prevented and added that he would personally help the school and fire victims, whom he knew from religious programmes they had held at his residence.
“In terms of help, I was informed that the government will give help, Umno will give help, and I personally will also give help, because these children and ustaz had held religious activities at my (unofficial) residence in Jalan Duta every Friday night. This is a tragedy that is close to my heart.
“Our plans are for the tahfiz (school) here to be moved to a new building, and they already have a plan to move within a few days.”
He said aid would be given to the parents who had lost their children, the injured survivors, and those who had been traumatised by the experience.