Teachers’ group says Dong Zong’s opposition to khat in BM syllabus unfounded

The section on khat writing to be included in the Bahasa Melayu textbook for vernacular schools from next year.

PETALING JAYA: The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) sees nothing wrong in the education ministry’s move to include khat, a form of Malay-Arabic calligraphy, as part of the Bahasa Melayu subject syllabus for vernacular schools.

This followed protests from Chinese educationist groups Dong Zong and Jiao Zong who said teaching khat would further burden students and teachers, and had nothing to do with mastering the national language.

But NUTP said the addition of khat in the Year 4 Bahasa Melayu syllabus would expose students to the art, and should not be politicised.

“Our stand is that anything which is educational and non-religious is acceptable. Khat is Arabic calligraphy, the exposure does not mean religious content is being taught to our students,” NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan told FMT.

He said it was similar to learning cursive writing as part of the English language syllabus.

NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan.

“In schools, we also have Chinese calligraphy, but this doesn’t mean that Muslim students are being taught another religion,” he added.

Tan said the section on khat in textbooks was introductory.

“There are outlines for the students to follow in the textbooks, but it is just exposure,” he said, adding that students are only given five phrases to practise khat-writing.

He said students would not be assessed or required to purchase special calligraphy pens.

Dong Zong and Jiao Zong have claimed that the khat is “not suitable” to be part of Bahasa Melayu.

But they said their opposition to introducing khat to students should not be seen as a refusal to celebrate the country’s various cultures and languages.