Educationist group Dong Zong criticized the Ministry of Education’s plan to conduct a survey on including a module on Jawi calligraphy as part of primary school Bahasa Melayu textbooks. It claimed that the use of such a method would not be inclusive and also inadequate for introducing students to native languages.
Dong Zong’s Stance
Dong Zong released a statement which called upon parent-teacher associations and school boards across the country to oppose current methods of teaching Jawi calligraphy. It has opposed the implementation of this material ever since the ministry first implied that it might introduce the material to schools.
Dong Zong also made it clear that Jawi calligraphy should be introduced to schools alongside classes that teach Malaysia’s other native languages. Its stance on this matter echoes that of Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon. Last December, Dr Mah proposed the introduction of a multilingual resource manual which would include content in various languages. This manual would feature content in the native languages of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak.
“We have called on the Education Ministry many times to consult with societies to address this issue but have received no reply. We want them to gather these organizations and set up a committee on a multilingual resource manual,” Dong Zong said in its statement.
A number of state education departments recently sent letters to various Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools. These letters were sent to determine if students’ parents agreed that the Jawi calligraphy module should be included in Year Four Bahasa Melayu textbooks.
Jawi Calligraphy in Malaysian Schools
The teaching of Jawi calligraphy in Malaysian schools has long been a contentious and controversial issue. Critics of the move claim that the content was inserted into the Malaysian primary school syllabus without consultation of key educational figures in the country. Some also believe that Jawi calligraphy lessons are part of a broader agenda promoting large-scale Islamization in Malaysia.
On the other hand, those in favour of teaching Jawi calligraphy to all primary school students in Malaysia claim that it is part of the country’s artistic and aesthetic culture. They believe that by teaching it, students will gain a greater understanding and appreciation of Malaysia’s heritage and history.
In December last year, the Ministry of Education declared that it would follow the 2019 Cabinet decision related to Jawi calligraphy lessons in primary schools. The Cabinet’s decision made Jawi calligraphy an optional subject; there would not be any tests. It would instead provide students with a basic recognition of Jawi calligraphy. Students would have to neither read nor write it.
At the time, however, the Ministry of Education also emphasized that secondary school students of Islamic studies would continue to learn Jawi reading and writing skills.
2nd February 2021 12:42
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