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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Government cuts funding to Islamic school

Malek Fahd Islmic School

The Federal government has axed funding to an Islamic school in Sydney because it failed to address concerns about how government funding of $19 million was spent over the last 12 months.

The Malek Fahd Islamic school has several campuses and around 2,400 students.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the government would stop funding the school, starting from April 8, because the money was not being spent only on education.

The decision comes after a review into six schools affiliated with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC).

Mr Birmingham said they have standards that schools must follow to qualify for funding.  "Those standards require schools to operate on a not-for-profit basis and to dedicate all funding received to the benefit, welfare and educational advancement of the students to ensure that they are independent in their operations."

If the school was to close, Mr Birmingham said he was confident the students would find places in local schools.

"Last year, the department issued a formal compliance notice when it found that the school authority was not complying with fundamental governance, financial and accountability requirements of the Australian Education Act 2013" Mr Birmingham said.

"After carefully considering the response to the issues raised in the compliance notice, my department had to make the difficult decision to revoke funding approval."

Mohammad Berjaoui, Vice President for the AFIC in Canberra said "We had a few people at Malek Fahd who were not capable of running the school, we have gotten rid of them and things will get better very, very soon...... we will work very hard to fulfil the Federal Government requirements, it's taking us a long time to do it, but we will do it."

In December last, the ABC received leaked documents alleging some AFIC representatives had received up to $500,000 of the funding distributed to its schools.

The Department said it was currently assessing another five schools affiliated with the AFIC.