CAMBODIA, Jan 19, 2017 – The Cham Malay community in Cambodia have realized that by providing a balanced education, i.e. conventional and religious education, to children they would be delivering a new generation of better Cham Malays in order to change their socio-economic level and living status in the future.

Therefore, a number of private integrated schools was first established by young Cham Malays. These schools integrate the learning of two syllabuses, namely Islamic education, such as Tauhid, Fiqh and Al-Quran, as well as conventional syllabus that includes science, mathematics, chemistry, Khmer language, and English.

Those individuals who took the initiative of establishing these integrated schools are mostly graduates from universities abroad, such as Malaysia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Among these schools is I-SMART Center School that is located in Chumnik village in Khmom Tbong state. It was founded in 2013, and it has a total of 185 students, with two schooling sessions, namely morning and afternoon.

“Teachers of Islamic studies are from our community, but for conventional subjects, we had to take teachers from public schools to teach as part-timers. We later anticipate that the children we educate through this integrated school would become competent educators who are capable of teaching both religious and conventional subjects”.

“We have many of those who are competent in the field of Islamic studies, however, in professional fields such as medicine, engineering, finance, and higher education are still small in numbers. This imbalance makes our community a bit left behind, thus, this integrated school is our effort to produce more professional Cham Malays who are active contributers to the nation, religion, and nation in the future” said Ustaz Mohamad Sulaiman, 37, the principal of this school.

Institut Integrasi Tahfiz Cambodia (INTAC), which is located in Kampung Speu, Kompung Cham state, is the only integrated school that implements a set of three syllabuses, namely religious, conventional, and Tahfiz (memorizing the Quran) to its students in Cambodia. The school was established with a majority of contributions from the concerned citizens of Malaysia, and it currently has about 70 students since its commencement in 2015.

According to one of its founders, Ustaz Sharkawi Salleh, 35, the awareness among parents to send their children to integrated schools such as this one is very high. The capacity of the school building and the number of existing teachers are not up to the demands of the community, thus, the intake of students was made in stages.

“Alhamdulillah, Malaysians were very helpful in establishing this school, and they are also financially sponsoring our students,” he added.
These schools that are based on welfare charge around USD 50 to USD 120 per year. Moreover, students who come from poor families, or who are orphans are not charged any fees.

The opportunity to closely observe the of educational development of the Cham Malay Muslim community and their daily lives was experienced by a group of students from Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) Debate Club who were in Cambodia since last Tuesday (January 17) until tomorrow. Following the Global Islamic Student Outreach (GISO) – The journey of Semai Kasih in Cambodia in 2017 consisted of 18 students, where they stayed with host families in Kampung Chumnik near the Mekong River.

This village is in Cambodia’s largest Muslim community of about 1500 residents, whereby agriculture and river fishing are the economic resource. Throughout the program, the students shared knowledge, cultures, and contributions of clothing and daily necessities.

Prepared by:

Mohd Zaini Othman
Strategic Communication Centre (StraComm)
Level 1, Canselori Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM)
71800 Nilai, Negeri Sembilan
Tel : 06-798 8026/8027/6284 Faks : 06-798 8204