Photos of Jawi scripts are making rounds on the Internet lately, asking if netizens agree with the government’s move to introduce “khat” writing in Year 4 Bahasa Malaysia subject.
But it seems like the implementation by the Education Ministry is certainly final since the syllabus is slated to start next year.
Six pages of Khat writing syllabus will be included in 162 pages of the Bahasa Malaysia textbook. It is an implementation decided by the BN administration in 2016, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said.
Malaysiakini reported that teachers at vernacular schools are being sent for khat art training in the new curriculum. A source said the training mostly prepare teachers to teach Jawi script art while the general script writing in the syllabus is not the main focus.
However, the Education Ministry said otherwise. In a statement on July 25, the Ministry said the new syllabus does not include Jawi script writing and students will not be tested in examinations.
“The Education Ministry would like to explain that tulisan khat (calligraphy) refers to line art (the thickness or slimness of a line). In the context of the Bahasa Malaysia curriculum, khat art refers to script art or calligraphy in Bahasa Malaysia and not Jawi script.
“The art was introduced to train students to write beautifully and to instil an element of fun in teaching and learning activities in schools,” the Ministry clarified.
It also argued that Year 1 and 2 students learn basic literacy phonic dan penmanship in English classes while Year 3 to Form 5 students learn mopit writing (Chinese calligraphy) in Chinese classes.
The Ministry said khat writing is similar to what English and Chinese subjects are doing now, an argument which is also echoed by the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP).
In defence, NUTP came out to clear the air and said that the new Bahasa Malaysia syllabus is appropriate.
Its secretary-general Harry Tan told FMT that, “Our stand is that anything which is educational and non-religious is acceptable. Khat is Arabic calligraphy, the exposure does not mean religious content is being taught to our students.”
Harry Tan said the syllabus is to expose students to khat writing and they are only given five phrases to practise.
Earlier, Chinese educationist groups made a public statement to oppose the implementation.
Dong Zong and Jiao Zong, the two groups that represent the interests of Chinese independent schools nationwide, contended that the art of Malay-Arabic calligraphy writing has nothing to do with learning the national language which follows a romanised script, Utusan Online reported.
“We support the government’s efforts to foster interracial interaction in schools but firmly oppose adding content that would burden teachers and students,” said DZJ, a short for both groups.
DZJ also said their objection to Khat-writing is not a sign of rejection in celebrating the national language and culture. They said it would be more fitting to include the syllabus in the arts subject.
In another report by Malaysiakini, it is learned that 138 DAP grassroots members have called its party Cabinet Ministers to drop the implementation of Khat writing.
The group claimed that the move is an attempt to institutionalize and politicise the Jawi script.
They referred to the mandatory use of Jawi script on signboards in Kelantan and Terengganu to back their claim, adding that a similar move is going to be institutionalized in Pahang and Malacca as well.
“This is manifesting in many ways… once Chinese and Tamil schools add ‘khat’ into the curriculum, it would be a case of ‘the boiling frog’.
“Those with an agenda might seize the opportunity to introduce Jawi at all levels… Should Jawi be institutionalised, it will tear apart Malaysia’s social fabric.
“DAP’s core is to seek a just society, where multi-culturalism is celebrated… Our values must manifest itself in policy and not just repeat MCA’s mistakes,” the group said.
They urged DAP Cabinet members to oppose the old ways of doing things set by BN, which has the “one race, one language and one culture” narrative.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think students should learn another writing system?
Let us know in the comments below.