NGOs agree to khat as long as it’s about calligraphy

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 07 Aug 2019

PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching claims that the Tamil and Chinese education NGOs have agreed there is no problem if the teaching of khat only involves the introduction of the calligraphy.

Teo stressed that pupils will not be tested on khat.

She was speaking to reporters after meeting representatives from 12 Tamil and Chinese education NGOs here.

The meeting, which lasted for more than an hour, was held to discuss issues pertaining to the introduction of khat in the Year Four Bahasa Melayu syllabus beginning next year.

The group of NGOs also handed over their joint statement on the matter to Teo.

Among the contents of the statement was a demand that the government give details on how khat would be introduced in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.

The same joint statement was shared with the media, said Dong Zong secretary-general Ng Chai Heng.

Teo thanked the NGOs for their concern on this issue, adding that the ministry will engage with them each time the Curriculum and Assessment Standard Document (DKSP) is reviewed.

Jiao Zong chairman Ong Chiow Chuen said more discussions are still needed as details on the DKSP were still not clear.

He also said they had no problems with Year Four pupils being introduced to khat as vernacular schools’ Year Five pupils are exposed to it in their Bahasa Melayu textbooks.The Education Ministry, in a statement yesterday, reiterated the teaching of the calligraphy is to help enhance pupils’ knowledge in history, arts and heritage and the history of Bahasa Melayu.

“This should not be perceived as pupils being forced to learn the writing as they will not be tested on it, ” it said.

The ministry also pointed out that the script has been taught in vernacular schools through the Bahasa Melayu curriculum since 2015.“This can be referred to SJK Year Five (2015 edition) page 85 to 88 under Theme Six; Culture and Nation Appreciation (Unit 17 – The Writing Art), ” it added.

The ministry said the decision to introduce khat was made in 2014 and will begin with Year Four pupils in 2020. Pupils in Years Five and Six will also learn it beginning in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

There will be no involvement of pupils in Years One to Three through the Bahasa Melayu syllabus, it added.

The ministry said the introduction of khat will involve all primary schools and will be done via six out of 164 pages in the new Bahasa Melayu Year Four textbook as part of the language art activities.

On why khat was introduced instead of coding or other topics, the ministry said: “The element of coding is incorporated within the subject of Technology Design and Computer Science.”

This is carried out for those in Year Four, Five and Six, and Form One, Two and Three through the revised Primary School Standards-Based Curriculum (KSSR) and Secondary School Standards-Based Curriculum (KSSM) in 2017, the ministry added.

The issue of khat being introduced in the Year Four Bahasa Melayu syllabus in the revised KSSR caused a storm when it was announced at the end of last month.

Critics claim that introducing khat would not help pupils improve their Malay language skills, adding that the burden on teachers and pupils should also be considered.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said that the decision would go ahead next year, adding that the objections were only by a small segment of society.

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