School’s out: another Islamic school is likely to shut its doors when $1 million in federal funding is officially withdrawn next month
Mar 2, 2016 | News
A second Islamic school is facing closure in April following the Government’s decision to withdraw commonwealth funding.
The Islamic School of Canberra has followed Sydney’s Malek Fahd School in seeing its funding revoked by the federal education department over financial management and governance concerns.
Four other schools affiliated with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) are also at risk, having been served non-compliance notices in November last year.
They are the Islamic College of Brisbane, the Islamic College of Melbourne, the Islamic College of South Australia and Langford Islamic College in Western Australia.
The Islamic School of Canberra is likely to shut its doors when $1 million in federal funding is officially withdrawn on 8th April, with all 216 students to be offered places in state schools across Canberra.
"Unfortunately, the authority that operates the Islamic School of Canberra was not able to demonstrate to my department that they had addressed the significant concerns about their independence, financial management and governance arrangements raised during the formal compliance review of their operations," education minister Simon Birmingham said.
"In this case there seems to be evidence that the funding arrangements and the independent governance arrangements that we expect of schools are simply not been met.
"My department will work with the ACT Government to help ensure students and families that are impacted by this decision receive the appropriate support."
ACT education minister Shane Rattenbury confirmed the school would lose its provisional state registration.
The families of all students must now choose to send their children to local public schools or non-government schools across Canberra.
"We will be communicating directly with all the families involved at the Islamic School," Mr Rattenbury said.
"Obviously it's not too long until the end of term one and we need to move as quickly as possible to ensure continuity of education for all the students."
The Federal Government ordered an audit into the six Islamic schools last year following concerns about financial mismanagement, staffing disputes, academic results and the perception that some schools were becoming more extreme.
The ABC obtained leaked documents alleging some representatives of AFIC had received taxpayer funded payments from schools of up to $500,000.
The documents also showed a $1.4 million loan was issued from the Malek Fahd Islamic School in Sydney to AFIC.
The 2,400-student Sydney school was stripped of $19 million in federal funding last month and also faces closure in April.
Islamic Council of ACT president Mohammed Berjaoui, who is the Canberra school’s business manager, says the issues affecting Malek Fahd have nothing to do with his school and he will appeal the decision over the next 30 days.
Students are meanwhile being urged to continue attending the low-fee independent school.