Council: School boards sidelined under new guidelines


Compiled by C. ARUNO and CLARISSA CHUNG

SCHOOL boards will have lost their right in deciding school policies with the release of the Education Ministry’s new guidelines on the teaching of Jawi calligraphy, Sin Chew Daily reported the Chinese Language Council as saying.

Its chairman Datuk Wang Hong Cai said the ministry had ignored repeated calls by the school boards to include them as decision-makers.

“This threatens the autonomy and the running of vernacular schools, especially in schools made up mostly of non-Chinese students, ” Wang said in a statement on Monday.

In the most recent guideline released by the ministry, parents are given the right to decide if Jawi calligraphy, known also as seni khat, is to be taught to students.

Wang questioned if it is to be implemented as long as more than 50% of the parents agreed to it.

“The various Chinese associations have repeatedly urged the Education Ministry to include them as decision-makers.

“But based on the new guidelines, not only were they not given the right to decide, the final decision for schools without a parent-teacher association – which the ministry had originally intended to allow school boards to be the decision-makers – are now given to the school management instead, ” he said.

Wang said boards of directors have been sidelined, adding that the new guidelines will have a long-term effect on the development of vernacular schools in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Huazong president Tan Sri Goh Tian Chuan (pic) said the guidelines for Jawi calligraphy is detrimental to the national unity.

He said that aside from the school board being sidelined, the new guidelines on Jawi calligraphy will have a profound impact on Malay pupils in vernacular schools, especially those in villages and primary schools that have a few students.

“If the subject is not executed properly, it will be detrimental to national unity to the extent that it will affect the relationship between students and parents of different races, ” he said.

“What can be predicted is that Malay pupils in Chinese schools and Malay parents in the respective parent-teacher association would be divided and have clashing perspective on the subject.”

Goh also questioned whether the pupils, who are against the Jawi calligraphy to be taught, have to attend the Jawi calligraphy classes since it is to be decided by a simple majority.

He said the Education Ministry should further address the doubts voiced by different parties before this issue becomes more complicated.

On Nov 29, Dong Zong, also known as the United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia, handed a memorandum to the Education Ministry urging them to include school boards as decision-makers on the teaching of Jawi calligraphy at school.

The Education Ministry had earlier announced the introduction of Jawi calligraphy in the Bahasa Melayu subject for Year Four students beginning next year.

The announcement caused an uproar among various groups, which prompted the ministry to first give teachers in schools the power to decide whether they want to teach the Jawi calligraphy to pupils before passing the decision to parents in the latest guidelines.

The above articles are compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with a >, it denotes a separate news item.

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