Put Jawi lessons on hold until further discussions, say NGOs

Representatives from 30 NGOs from the Coalition of Seni Khat Action Team (Sekat) crossing their arms to indicate they are against the education ministry implementing Jawi script in schools.

KUALA LUMPUR: A coalition of 30 national NGOs and parties from the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak has urged the government to put the implementation of Jawi script on hold until a transparent and proper discussion with all relevant parties is held.

Coalition of Seni Khat Action Team (Sekat) secretary Arun Dorasamy said there had been no presentation or discussion by the education ministry, adding that the decision was made in such a rush.

“The coalition is against the implementation of Jawi into the syllabus, especially for non-Muslim students.

“We do not find it necessary and we are not in line with the ministry in this matter. We believe all Malaysians will agree if we empower Bahasa Malaysia instead.

“We do not trust the ministry and its transparency. In this process, those in Sabah and Sarawak are being sidelined,” he said at a press conference today at The Kuala Lumpur And Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall here.

The Cabinet had decided that khat lessons will be renamed “Jawi script” and will be introduced next year in the syllabus for Year 4 primary school pupils in vernacular schools, despite a backlash from various groups.

However, it would be optional and will not be a test subject.

The Cabinet agreed that Jawi would only be introduced with the prior agreement of the parent-teacher associations (PIBG) and other parents.

Chinese and Tamil educationist groups, including Dong Zong, had voiced opposition.

Arun said preparations to introduce Jawi seem to be haphazard.

“The failure to hold an open, thorough discussion with all parties is confusing and suspicious.”

He said the coalition would submit a memorandum to the ministry and Cabinet members.

He said Sekat would be going to Sabah and Sarawak to get feedback on this mater.

He also said that he would be looking at a judicial review on this matter as well.

He said if the government insists on proceeding with the introduction of Jawi without discussing with relevant parties, Sekat would hold a “National Skip School” day to show their protest, with the cooperation of parents who do not want their children to learn the subject nationwide, as a last resort to show their dissatisfaction.

Persatuan Anak Borneo Semenanjung (ABS) deputy president Gangging @ Ling Sanggau voiced her objection to the implementation of Jawi in schools, saying many students in rural areas in Sarawak were non-Muslim.

She said it is better to focus on empowering English, as what was proposed by the Sarawak chief minister previously.

“We live in a multiracial country, so I am asking the education ministry to not go ahead with its decision.”