The Federal Government has announced stopping of funds to Australia’s largest Islamic school. The Malek Fahd Islamic School in Sydney will be stripped off funds from April on the grounds of alleged mismanagement of funds.
According to Education Minister Simon Birmingham, the funding for the Islamic school would be stopped from April 8. The Islamic School runs many campuses, including the largest one at Green Acre. In 2015, the school received $19 million in funding from the government.
Birmingham said the school has not been spending the funds properly. It was also noticed that the school has been diverting funds for non- educational activities. The government’s decision followed the review of six schools affiliated with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC). This followed allegations that the group had been making profit from the taxpayer funds given out to the schools.
“We have very strong standards in place, which we expect of all schools in receipt of federal funding,” Birmingham said. The minister noted that schools have to run on a not-for-profit basis and all funding should go to the benefit and educational advancement of students, reports ABC News.
The minister urged all to view the matter as something not related to Islamic schools alone. It is a matter concerning school governance in general, he said. However, Mohammad Berjaoui, vice president of AFIC in the Australian Capital Territory said his organisation never breached any rules. He said AFIC would fully comply with all the norms set by the government.
“The money that we’re getting for the school, it is all going to education,” Berjaoui said. He said if the school management has not done things to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth, then that issue will be looked into.
It may be recalled that in December 2015, the ABC had accessed leaked documents showing some AFIC functionaries having received money from the schools. One document showed a $1.4 million loan from the Malek Fahd School to AFIC.
Meanwhile, there is already a case of the Federal government stopping funding to the Islamic College of South Australia (ICOSA) then reinstating it. In December, Education Minister Simon Birmingham said ICOSA has been found to be in compliance with the norms on prudent financial management after its funding was frozen.
However, South Australian Education Minister Susan Close refused to reinstate the funding saying that a detailed response from the college is needed, reports AAP. The action followed audit results, which showed financial mismanagement in many Islamic schools.