07 April 2020
To help the religious sector cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) will work with partners under the SGTeguhBersatu Task Force to provide a comprehensive assistance package for our asatizah, the mosque sector, as well as the tenants of wakaf properties, in order to strengthen the resilience of the community.
Support for Religious Teachers (Asatizah)
2. Muis will intensify efforts to support asatizah, so they can continue to play a critical role in guiding the community through Islamic education. With the temporary closure of the mosques, many asatizah would have lost both their primary platform to reach the community as well as a source of income.
Supporting Asatizah affected by the Crisis
3. Muis will assist asatizah who have suffered a loss of income due to COVID-19. Muis will assist asatizah in applying for assistance under the Resilience Package, including the Self-Employed Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) and the Temporary Relief Fund (TRF).
4. For SIRS, Muis will work with NTUC, and will accept applications from self-employed ARS-certified asatizah who are eligible for this scheme. Muis will outreach to asatizah to raise awareness of the scheme, and guide asatizah through the application process. Asatizah who are eligible to receive the support under the scheme will receive three payouts of $3,000, starting from May.
5. Muis will also work with MSF to assist and support asatizah to apply for the Temporary Relief Fund via the online portal. Asatizah who experienced a drop in income due to COVID-19 will receive a one-off payment of $500. In addition, asatizah who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 can also apply for the COVID-19 Assistance Grant and receive $800 a month, for three months. Asatizah who wish to apply for these schemes can call 6350 5374 or 63501440 for assistance.
Helping Asatizah Stay Relevant and Draw an Income
6. Muis will also work with mosques to move more of its lessons and classes online. This includes programmes conducted by its religious officers, home-based learning for aLIVE madrasahs1 and other Islamic learning classes. Muis will also share a toolkit with IECPs2 and home-based Quranic teachers to encourage more to continue their classes via online platforms. This will ensure they continue to draw income during this period.
Supporting Upskilling of Asatizah
7. To support and prepare asatizah for beyond the crisis, Muis will partner MENDAKI Sense to support the upskilling of our asatizah. To complement the Self-Employed Person (SEP) Training Support Scheme, Muis will encourage asatizah to upskill especially in areas like Digital Marketing, Technology Enabled Learning Delivery and counselling. This will be tied to the launch of the Career Map and Competency Framework (CCF), one of the recommendations from COFA3, later this month, which will create more opportunities and enhance the career pathways for asatizah.
Rallying Community Support for Mosques During the Downturn
8. Given that the closure of mosques will affect them financially, Muis will provide grants to support mosques to adopt enhanced precautions to deal with COVID-19 when they reopen. This includes temperature taking, contract tracing, and manpower and systems for queue management.
9. In addition, as the aLIVE class is partially affected by the closure of the mosque and will be replaced with home learning, Muis will give a grant to mosques to waive the aLIVE fee by 50% for two months. Parents will in the aLIVE programme will be informed by their respective mosques on the details of this fee waiver.
10. Muis has set aside $1 million for these measures to support the mosques. In addition, Muis calls upon the community to continue to support our mosques and asatizah during the challenging months ahead.
11. To facilitate this, Muis is developing a platform to make it easier for the community to make online donations to mosques, including those who wish to donate on a regular basis, such as through PayNow and GIRO. The system is expected to be ready within the next two weeks.
Support for Wakaf Tenants - Non-profit Organisations and Small Businesses
12. Muis is committed to supporting businesses and organisations which are renting Wakaf properties. In this regard, Muis will pass on all the property tax rebates provided by the Government from the Resilience and Solidarity Budget. In addition, Muis will provide additional rental waivers to commercial tenants as well as community tenants. Community tenants refer to non-profit organisations and SMEs offering socio-religious services.
13. All commercial and community tenants will receive a baseline rental waiver of 1.5 months as part of passing on property tax rebates to tenants. Commercial tenants will receive an additional 0.5 month rental waiver on top of the associated tax rebates while community tenants will receive an additional 2 months rental waiver. In total, commercial tenants of wakaf properties will receive a 2 month rental waiver while community tenants of wakaf properties will receive a 4 month rental waiver. Tenants who are eligible will receive a notice from Muis in the coming days.
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA
1 aLIVE (Learning Islamic Values Everyday) are religious programmes for children across various age groups (kids, tween, teens, youth). The programme is conducted at mosques across Singapore.
2 Islamic Education Centres and Providers (IECP) provide religious instructions (e.g. lectures, classes) at various location. IECPs are required to employ teachers who are registered under Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) and to ensure that the curriculum, learning materials and teachers employed comply with ARS Code of Ethics.
3 Committee of Future Asatizah was formed in March 2019 to spearhead engagement on the vision for “Asatizah of the Future”. The committee recently published a report outlining 3 key thrusts and 10 recommendations, based on the Vision of Future Asatizah.