PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry has been urged to postpone the implementation of khat (Jawi caligraphy) in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus for Year Four pupils, until concerns have been properly addressed.
Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) said the Bahasa Melayu subject is compulsory for students and it is in the romanised script.
"It is uncertain how the Ministry has given assurance that khat will not be an examination paper since Bahasa Melayu is a compulsory paper, " it said in a statement.
The Education Ministry had said that the decision to introduce khat was made in 2014 and will begin with Year Four pupils in 2020.
Critics have claimed that introducing khat would not help pupils improve their Malay language skills, adding that the burden on teachers and pupils should also be considered.
The group said khat's inclusion in the Bahasa Melayu paper raises question of motive.
"Furthermore, Khat will have to be taught using the Jawi script. We also know that our national language is Bahasa Melayu and not jawi and thus it again raises the question of motive.
"The Education Ministry's argument that khat has been an integral part of Malaysia's identity is not supported by history.
"Bahasa Melayu is an integral part of Malaysia's identity, but not the Jawi script, which has not been in the mainstream even for Malays in the last 50 years, " it claims.
"It will be more prudent to include khat calligraphy in the Arts subject. Here it can be taught as an art which is what it is, including calligraphy of other races.
"The Ministry's argument that khat calligraphy appears on stamps, and others is irrelevant. No one has ever objected to it and it is a different issue altogether, " added the group.
The MCCBCHST added that it is of the view that khat is Arabic calligraphy and was not suitable to be included in the Bahasa Melayu paper. It should not be made compulsory for all. However, it can be taught as an Arts subject in schools.
"Khat can be made compulsory in the Agama Islam papers for the Muslims, " it said.
"We call on the Education Ministry to draw up programmes that will unite Malaysians and not divide them.
"At this critical juncture, there are more important issues to be tackled. We should be preparing students for the 21st Century which will be very competitive.
"Science and technology will play an important role. Our neighbouring countries are introducing computer programming language to their young children, we should raise the standard of Bahasa Melayu, not forgetting at the same time the importance of English.
"This is the type of change the Pakatan Harapan manifesto had promised and which should be initiated, " added the group.
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