Australia: Zubair Sayed, guilty of brutal atrocities in Afghanistan, charged with fraud in Perth Print E-mail

Note too: Zubair Sayed, a US ally, and his Muslim Ladies College in Perth at the receiving end of both state and federal government student subsidised funding programs

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  | December 10, 2007

School closed as director, Zubair Sayed, charged

By Elizabeth Gosch

Zubair Sayed, an Afghan war criminal, until December 9 2007 running "terrorist making factories" in Australia at taxpayers expense. Read MORE

A PERTH Muslim school has been shut down for focusing too heavily on religious instruction, as its director was charged with fraud over the alleged theft of $355,934 from the college's federal funding.

State Education Minister Mark McGowan yesterday closed Muslim Ladies College in Kenwick after a departmental investigation found the school was employing unregistered teachers and failing to comply with the West Australian curriculum.

With only five days to go until the end of term, Mr McGowan said departmental staff were working with parents to place their children in new schools from next year.

A separate police investigation has resulted in the arrest of the kindergarten to Year 12 school's acting director, Zubair Sayed.

Mr Sayed, who has been filling in as director of the school in Perth's southeastern suburbs since his brother Anwar went to Afghanistan earlier this year, appeared in Perth Magistrates Court on Saturday charged with fraud.

Police prosecutor Scott McCormick told the court Mr Sayed wrote a Commonwealth Bank cheque for $355,934, drawing on federal government funding for the college.

It is also alleged the school had been overclaiming for both state and federal government funding.

"This is a matter which is of extreme seriousness, whereby Mr Sayed obtained public money from the commonwealth by deceit," Sergeant McCormick said.

He told the court that detectives had discovered the money had been sent to Pakistan.

Mr Sayed was granted bail to reappear on January 2.

The Australian Federal Police said yesterday they were aware of the investigation but that at this stage it remained a state investigation.

Yesterday, Mr McGowan said the school, which had been inspected by the Education Department at least eight times this year, was not teaching students the subjects required under the curriculum.

"The school was not meeting the curriculum framework, with some of the students there undertaking religious instruction on a daily basis for 43 per cent of their time at school," he said.

"At all schools around the state we expect they will spend at least 50 per cent of their time on literacy and numeracy so when a school is spending 43 per cent of its time on religious instruction it is not meeting that requirement.

"I have taken strong action, the strongest action really available to me, and that is to close that school."

Mr McGowan said staff at the school had reported the problems to the department, which began its investigation in December last year.

"I am not aware of any complaints from parents but there have been complaints from staff at the school about the use of money and the payment of staff and so forth," he said.

"The report showed that some of the teachers have a limited authority to teach, and they are receiving no professional development. Many of the teachers are unregistered and there was no indication that they were going to become registered. When you add all these things up, there is layer upon layer of failure at that school."

Enrolments at the school, which has a twin college for boys next door, have dropped significantly over the past year.

At the beginning of 2007, about 90 students were enrolled but only 50 students remained at the college last week.

Mr McGowan said the department would be working with families to find places at other schools for those students.

"I suppose it is good that it has happened at the end of the school year. It means that those students will now be able to go to other schools with a minimum of disruption," he said.

Muslim Ladies College is independent of the Australian Islamic Colleges, which were raided early this year in relation to allegations of fraud involving state and federal government student subsidised funding programs.