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Mahathir supports Jawi in schools

  • Mahathir: Jawi calligraphy class in vernacular primary schools should proceed. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

MELAKA (Sin Chew Daily) -- Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad holds the view that the policy of implementing Jawi calligraphy lessons in national vernacular primary schools for year four pupils should proceed.

He said the government has never opposed the learning of Chinese language and Chinese calligraphy. This is something special about Malaysia but such practice is not allowed in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. People can only learn the language of the country.

Dr Mahathir said this during a dialogue with 300 youth in Melaka.

He said in Turkey, even if the Turkish learn Romanised language they are still good at Jawi calligraphy and carving.

“In fact, this is art in the language. We do not quarrel with the Democratic Action Party (DAP) on the issue of learning Jawi,” he said.

When asked his views on DAP elected representatives who oppose the inclusion of Jawi calligraphy into year four lessons in primary school, Dr Mahathir said only some of the DAP elected representatives oppose and not all.

Despite facing opposition from the Chinese community, Chinese education groups and some of ruling coalition and opposition parties, the Ministry of Education issued a press statement on Friday that it would go according to the original plan of implementing Jawi calligraphy in year four of vernacular primary schools as a calligraphy lesson. However, the ministry agrees to implement the lessons without increasing burden to pupils and teachers.

The statement said Jawi calligraphy is a key element in learning the heritage of Malay language. It shares the same status with Malay language as national language and a language to unite all races. The calligraphy is also used on national emblem, state emblem and ringgit notes.

“Hence, according to the ministry’s plan, it will introduce Jawi calligraphy in schools. The lessons will be presented in a manner which is easy to understand and does not impose any burden to both teachers and pupils without assessment. The content of primary school syllabus and assessment documents would be amended."

Sin Chew Daily reported on 25 July that Jawi calligraphy would be included in the second phase of Malay language in vernacular primary school to groom pupils’ interest and ability to appreciate Jawi calligraphy.

The Chinese society and Chinese education groups are against the move where 28 DAP elected representatives (two have since withdrawn from the joint petition) and the committee members of the youth wing of DAP are also against the implementation.

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