PETALING JAYA: Primary school pupils would be required to learn to write only four terms in Jawi, former education minister Maszlee Malik said today.
The words are ‘Malaysia’, ‘Ringgit Malaysia’, ‘Bank Negara Malaysia’ and ‘Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu’.
“That’s all,” he said. “Plus, it would not be part of the examination.”
Maszlee was responding to a claim about religious elements associated with Jawi. Lessons about Jawi, which Maszlee described as “our heritage” are to be introduced to Year 4 pupils in vernacular schools.
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in a recent interview with Sinar Harian, had criticised the decision to introduce the subject in vernacular schools. The education ministry had created an unnecessary problem by introducing lessons about Jawi, he said.
He said that khat (Jawi calligraphy) had a lot of religious elements and he had wondered why Maszlee had wanted Chinese students to learn Jawi.
In a lengthy posting on Facebook, Maszlee said that when he brought up to the Cabinet the proposal to introduce lessons about Jawi, he had said that Jawi had nothing to do with Islam and that the subject would only take up three pages of the Bahasa Melayu textbook.
Mahathir went on to say that during his first stint as prime minister of a Barisan Nasional government, MCA had never opposed Jawi because the administration then never ruled for the subject to be taught at vernacular schools.
But Maszlee said plans to introduce khat begin in 2014 and the education ministry had approved it in 2015.
Maszlee said the government then had introduced khat to Year 5 vernacular school students in their Bahasa Melayu textbook.
“At that time, PPBM wasn’t formed and I was an ordinary lecturer.”
In 2019, the PH administration announced its intention to introduce khat in Chinese and Tamil-medium schools this year.
The move to do so was met with protests from some, including Chinese and Tamil interest groups who said it would not help vernacular school students increase their standard of Malay.
Segments of DAP grassroots office bearers were also against the move.
On Jan 2, Maszlee announced his resignation as the education minister, some 20 months after he was appointed to the high-profile post.