Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

Mandatory course for aspiring Islamic religious teachers returning from overseas graduate studies

SINGAPORE – Graduates of Islamic studies programmes overseas will be allowed to teach Islam here while taking a mandatory course, which is a requirement for registration as an Islamic teacher in Singapore.

The Postgraduate Certificate in Islam in Contemporary Societies (PCICS) is a full-time one-year programme that aims to help returning Singaporean graduates readjust and contextualise to local social and political contexts what they have learnt overseas.

Registration for the programme is now open and classes will commence in April next year for the first cohort. The course is relevant for aspiring Islamic leaders in Singapore, also known as asatizah.

Graduates hoping to serve as an asatizah in Singapore will be required to hold the PCICS, as it is now part of the requirements for registration under Tier 1 of the Asatizah Recognition Scheme in Singapore.

Graduates who apply for the Asatizah Recognition Scheme will be given a provisional Asatizah Recognition Scheme recognition that is valid for three years, which will allow them to teach Islam while undergoing the course.

Returning graduates who do not intend to work in the religious sector will not have to go through the PCICS and will not need to apply for the Asatizah Recognition Scheme.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), which set up the PCICS programme, said it will equip Singaporean students with the relevant knowledge and skills to serve in both the religious and secular sectors, while being grounded in Islamic teachings and values.

The programme will replace the current four-week Islam in Context course for all returning graduates.

Students on the PCICS programme will read a selection of modules offered by the Muis Academy and by local and foreign universities.

The programme came about after a panel of seasoned asatizah, led by Deputy Mufti of Singapore, Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, emphasised the importance of equipping future religious leaders with the relevant knowledge and skills to serve in the religious sector, and to deepen their understanding and apply their Islamic learning to the Singapore context.

In an effort to enhance the role of Islamic religious teachers beyond traditional teaching roles, Muis is also developing the Asatizah Workforce Development Plan.

Plans in the pipeline include skills upgrading as well as leadership programmes.

Mr Uwais Al-Qarni Mohamed Fawzi, a recent graduate of Islamic Theology from the University of Jordan, said he will be applying to enrol in the PCICS programme.

“In the (foreign) university, we were mainly exposed to the theoretical aspects of Islam.”

“But religious queries from people in Singapore are different as a result of the diverse community and unique challenges here. Courses like the PCICS programme can further professionalise asatizah to better guide our community,” he added.

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