Making the call, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Arifin Mohd Arif said there are many Muslim students who have completed their studies in the field at certificate level and keen to pursue the same studies at any higher learning institution in the State.
"As far as I am concerned, there are no local universities or private colleges in Sabah that offer diploma programmes in Islamic and Propagation Studies here.
"Hence, I am grateful and thankful to the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) Sabah branch with Institut Pengajian Islam Dakwah Sabah (IPDAS) for their noble efforts to empower Islamic knowledge in the State," he said.
Arifin, who is also Membakut assemblyman, said this at the 12th Convocation of IPDAS students, here, on Saturday.
A total of 180 students graduated from IPDAS and received their certificates after completing their two-year studies in the field.
Also present were Jakim deputy director-general (management) Awang Khalid Mat Ali, Sabah Mufti Ustaz Bungsu @ Aziz Jaafar, Jakim Sabah director Ustaz Halim Ahmad, acting principal of IPDAS Ustaz Rosman Suni and other officials.
Arifin said he is optimistic that with the collaboration of the State and Federal governments, IPDAS will be further upgraded in terms of its basic infrastructures, facilities and co-curriculum so that the institution is capable of emerging as a hub for Islamic education in future.
In another development, he said he supported a Jakim proposal for the State government to channel assistance by way of free school fees and tuition classes to students of low-income and poor families but eligible and keen to continue their studies at diploma level at IPDAS, Keningau.
In addition, he said IPDAS has vast land that could be developed for the interest of enhancing Islamic knowledge in Sabah.