SINGAPORE, May 16 (AP) - Feisal Noor Mohammad takes lessons in mathematics and English, but he also studies the Koran every day. Unlike most young Singaporeans, he goes to a religious school rather than a public one.

His ``madrasah'' - Arabic for school - teaches its students the tenets of Islam and the Arabic and Malay languages and is considered a nurturing ground for religious leaders and scholars.

But many Muslims are worried the survival of their madrasahs may be at stake in a Ministry of Education study on whether the Southeast Asian city-state should introduce compulsory education.

They fear that if the study recommends compulsory education, Muslim children may be forced to attend national schools instead of madrasahs and to drop subjects like Arabic and Malay.

``I think they are trying to shut down the madrasahs,'' Mohammad, 17, said in an interview. ``I will not want to go to the national school. I want to stay in the madrasah.''

The government insists it is only considering the merits of ensuring that all children attend school, but it has indirectly targeted the madrasahs because of their focus on religion rather than technical subjects.

Madrasahs emphasize Islam in their curriculums, something that does not tie in well with the government's determination to make Singapore the premier information economy in Asia.

``I don't think people agree with the government,'' said Mohammad's mother, Amirjan Binte Said Ali. ``Arabic itself is the meaning of religion. By sending children to madrasahs they are giving children the complete lesson in this religion.''

Singapore is home to 440,000 Muslims, the majority of them ethnic Malays, which is about 15 percent of the population.

A total of 4,038 students attend madrasahs - 2,837 girls and 1,201 boys - between the ages of 7 and 18, the Islamic-Religious Council of Singapore says. When Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong asked for the study in October, he insisted madrasahs would not disappear.

``We understand the importance of madrasahs to the Muslim community,'' he said. ``I believe that when the community considers the benefits of compulsory education to our country as a whole, and to the Muslim community in particular, a win-win solution can be found.''

Muslim leaders have asked their constituents to be patient and withhold judgment until the study comes out, perhaps in July.

``Changes to our madrasah system are not uncommon,'' Yaacob Ibrahim, a Muslim legislator, told a Muslim gathering. ``We have been doing so for the past 90 years. I am confident that we can continue to evolve to a much higher level.'' Some Muslim groups are floating ideas for how madrasahs could adapt to a compulsory education plan.

The Majlis Pusat, a Malay umbrella body, has recommended a mandatory minimum curriculum including mathematics, science and English. It also said students should be required to attend school until age 16.

The madrasahs are holding comment until the study comes out.

``We feel that every Singaporean needs to go through some kind of education system,'' said Abdul Wahab Abdul Rahman, chairman of Al Irsyad Madrasah. ``And whether the government is going to accept the madrasahs as compulsory education or not depends on the study of the Ministry of Education.''

Rahman questioned whether the government could refuse to recognize private religious schools. ``What will that mean for the Australian or the American schools?'' he said.

The Ministry of Education, however, says Singaporean private schools would have to follow curriculum set out in any national education system, but the international schools follow the systems of their own countries and therefore are ruled out of the debate.

While the Education Ministry has declined to officially comment on the issue, some officials say privately that the madrasahs do not teach everything the public schools do.

And Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong indicated in a television interview that religion may have to give way when it comes to education.

``The question is: Should we or should we not have a certain number of years when every child in Singapore undergoes a national stream education and is socialized and imbued with shared values which help him to become a Singapore citizen?'' Lee said.

``The madrasahs will not disappear. The question is what is the correct balance and how should they fit and how many people would you like to have attending the madrasahs. How many religious leaders do you need?''

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