GEORGE TOWN: Education Minister Maszlee Malik today called for calm following reports that a parents’ group is threatening to stop sending their children to school if Jawi script lessons are introduced as planned next year.
“We should think rationally and not react emotionally. Education is very important and schools are the safest place for children. I would like to call on all Malaysians, especially groups such as Sekat and others, to not be overly emotional about this.
“It may jeopardise the future of our children. Education is for all, don’t deny our children that,” he said at a press conference at the Teachers’ Training Institute in Gelugor here.
Maszlee said this when asked to comment on Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman labelling such groups as “bodoh sombong”.
The government had earlier said that the proposed lessons on khat, a form of Islamic calligraphy, would be called Jawi script instead. It will be introduced in Chinese- and Tamil-medium schools next year.
This is despite objections from many groups, including Chinese educationist group Dong Zong and, more recently, Seni Khat Action Team or Sekat, a coalition of 24 groups.
On Sunday, Sekat said until Putrajaya reversed its Jawi script lesson plan, it would advise parents to stop sending their children to school.
However, the government maintained that the Jawi script lessons would be optional and would not be included in exams.
The Cabinet also said the subject would be taught only if parent-teacher associations and other parents agreed to it.
An education ministry source told FMT yesterday that the government would meet these groups soon.
On the free breakfast programme for primary schoolchildren, Maszlee said it went beyond just feeding students as it would include inculcating good eating habits and etiquette.
He said the prime minister had been inspired by Japan, where schoolchildren have been given breakfast since after World War II to ensure that they receive nutritious food.
“The breakfast will also allow children to pick up civic lessons through learning the etiquette of eating, disposing of their food properly, washing their plates, recycling and more.
“It is not just about eating food, it goes beyond that, so that the future generation of Malaysians is healthy and practises good etiquette,” he said.