Australia’s largest Islamic school has had its government funding pulled over concerns that lax accounting procedures could not guarantee taxpayer money was spent solely on education rather than siphoned off for other causes.
The Malek Fahd Islamic School in Greenacre in south-west Sydney lost AUS$19m in federal funding after the federal Department of Education issued a notice ending the school’s approval on Monday, due to “non-compliance” with the Australian Education Act.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the education minister, Simon Birmingham, said the funding had been stopped because the money was not being spent exclusively on education.
“Unfortunately, the authority that operates Malek Fahd Islamic School was not able to demonstrate to my department that they had addressed the significant concerns about their financial management and governance arrangements raised during the formal compliance review of their operations,” he said.
“The act requires, amongst other obligations, that all school authorities operate not-for-profit, be a ‘fit and proper person’ and ensure that funding provided is used only for school education.”
More than 2,200 students were enrolled at Malek Fahd in 2014.
Mr Birmingham said he had been working to ensure that no students would be left without schooling should the school be forced to close when funding ceases in April.
“We have also been in discussion with the Association of Independent Schools to make sure that all bases are covered,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday morning.
The crackdown comes after a six-month investigation by the Federal Department of Education sparked by a string of sackings among senior staff members and principals, allegations of financial mismanagement and concerns over the delivery of the curriculum.
As Breitbart London reported, six Australian Islamic schools including Malek Fahd, were warned last November to expect funding suspension after an audit found them to be operating for profit.
The schools are all affiliated with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) and one claimed in its defence that being asked to repay an outstanding government loan is racist.
Five other Islamic faith schools around Australia are under review: the Islamic College of Brisbane, the Islamic College of Melbourne, the Islamic College of South Australia, the Islamic School of Canberra and Langford Islamic College in WA.