PETALING JAYA: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim appeared to downplay the controversy surrounding the introduction of Jawi in vernacular schools this year, saying it was intended merely to teach students about national heritage.
He added that the arguments by parties opposed to the subject may touch on the racial sensitivities of the Malays.
“They make it seem as if Jawi is ancient (kuno). Sanksrit is ancient but people still learn it. Latin is ancient too, but it is still being learnt.”
Anwar said Bahasa Malaysia cannot be mastered without some knowledge of its origins.
He said, based on the guidelines, the script was to be taught through a few pages of the textbook in schools.
“I do not think that is a problem,” he said, adding that the matter should not be sensationalised.
He said the country was at a disadvantage now as the discussions should be focused on more important issues, such as the general quality of education in the country.
The government’s plan to introduce Jawi to Year 4 students in vernacular schools this year has met with strong resistance from Chinese educationist groups, particularly Dong Jiao Zong.
Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching recently clarified that Jawi lessons in the Bahasa Melayu subject in vernacular schools can only be introduced with approval from the majority of parents or the parent-teacher association.
She said without 51% approval of either parents or the PTA, Jawi cannot be included as part of the syllabus.
Bernama reported that Anwar brushed off suggestions that he was in line for the education minister’s post.
“I am not on the list,” the Port Dickson MP said, breaking out into laughter when broached on the subject at an award presentation ceremony for excellent Tamil students in Seri Kembangan today.
He said, by convention, ministerial appointments were the prerogative of the prime minister and that any discussion on filling the vacant education minister’s post by Pakatan Harapan leaders would only be held if there was a need.
“It is up to the prime minister and the PH leadership if the matter needs to be discussed.
“But in my opinion, such ministerial vacancies are always filled based on the wisdom of the PM.”
Anwar recorded his appreciation to Maszlee Malik, who is Simpang Renggam MP, for his contributions when he was the education minister.
Maszlee quit as education minister on Jan 3 after holding the post for 20 months. The post has yet to be filled.