Let school boards approve Jawi script lessons, say Dong Zong, Chinese groups

The Cabinet has decided that Jawi script lessons will be optional and not form part of any exam or monthly test.

PETALING JAYA: Chinese educationist group Dong Zong, in thanking the government for listening to the criticism over the introduction of khat, said today the new Cabinet decision will still pose problems.

In a joint statement with eight other Chinese-interest groups, they cast doubt on whether the decision to only introduce Jawi in vernacular schools with the agreement of the parent-teacher associations (PIBG) and other parents of pupils, could be properly implemented.

“What more, most Chinese vernacular schools in Sabah and Sarawak do not have PIBGs,” they said.

The groups said it would be better for the respective school boards, which consist of representatives of PIBGs and alumni associations, to decide on teaching Jawi lessons.

The Cabinet last week decided that khat lessons would be renamed Jawi script and introduced in the syllabus for Year 4 primary school pupils in vernacular schools, despite a backlash from various groups.

Jawi script lessons would be optional and not form part of any exam or monthly test, the education ministry said. Three pages of the Bahasa Melayu textbook will contain Jawi script lessons.

The groups said the decision to change the topic from khat to Jawi script would remove doubts in the non-Muslim community regarding the topic.

But they urged the ministry to announce the contents of the Standard Curriculum and Assessment Document and syllabus for Jawi script lessons so that the public would be aware of how it would be introduced in vernacular schools.

“The education ministry should have first consulted and got the approval of stakeholders, especially Dong Jiao Zong and Tamil-education groups, before the decision was made,” they reiterated.

“This will ensure that the characteristics and identity of Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools are not affected.”

Dong Jiao Zong is the collective name for Dong Zong and Jiao Zong, another Chinese educationist group up in arms over the khat move.

They said the teaching of Jawi would not help vernacular school students increase their mastery of the national language.

They said merely introducing Jawi for students to know that there was such an art form was enough.

But they thanked the government for listening to the voices of the non-Muslims on this issue, adding that “it was a good move”.

The groups said that they would continue to collect information and have in-depth discussions with other bodies and related parties, including the education ministry, for necessary follow-ups.

The other groups that issued the joint statement are the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong), the Federation of Chinese School Alumni Associations of Malaysia, the Federation of Alumni Associations of Taiwan Universities, Merdeka University Bhd, the LLG Cultural Development Centre, the Malaysia Chinese Language Council, and the Association of Graduates from Universities and Colleges of China, Malaysia.