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Jawi: 4-pronged proposal to the education ministry


By Dato' Goh Hin San

I was recently invited to attend a dialogue with the education minister and his deputy over the heated issue of introducing Jawi calligraphy or Khat in Year Four Seni Bahasa curriculum for Chinese and Tamil primary schools in the country.

Prior to that, I had attempted to understand the position of the ministry as well as that of Dong Zong and Jiao Zong over the issue, and had also referred to DSKP (Dokumen Standard Kurikulum dan Pentaksiran) in order to have a better idea of the official document on the implementation of this new education measure.

I made the following proposals during the dialogue:

1. The Jawi calligraphic art is a cultural legacy of the Malay language, not unlike the Chinese calligraphy, Tamil calligraphy (Kalai) as well as the calligraphic arts of other ethnic communities in the country. As such, it should be promoted in the form of an introduction to the calligraphic art for the appreciation of students.

2. The cultural legacies of various ethnic communities can be learned as part of extracurricular activities at schools, or held in collaboration with the ministries of culture and national unity. Their learning should not be made compulsory as an integral part of a language curriculum, nor should they be included in examinations or students' homework.

3. In order not to add to the students' burden, I proposed to abolish articles 4.4.1 and 4.4.2 in DSKP on the learning of Jawi.

During the dialogue, I straightaway proposed to abolish article 4.4.1 of DSKP on the learning of Jawi calligraphy and replace it with “be acquainted with, discern and read out the letters written in Jawi in the idioms and present them in the form of writing” (mengenal, mengecam dan menyebut huruf tunggal yang ditulis mengikut seni Khat dalam simpulan bahasa dan mempersembahkan dalam bentuk tulisan), as well as to specify “presentation of the beauty of Jawi calligraphic art through idioms” in article 4.4.2.

Meanwhile, the “catatan” (notes) under articles 4.4.1 and 4.4.2 have specified more flexible way of learning which can be executed by way of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

It is supposed to be a “Seni Bahasa” which does not warrant the evaluation of a student's competency nor homework has apparently become examinable now through “listening, speaking, reading and writing” by “flexibly” incorporating the learning of Jawi into language curriculum.

4. The attitude of the Chinese community must be apprehended, in view of the anxiety in the community over the many government policies perceived as unfavorable to the development of Chinese primary schools in the country over the years. As a consequence, their concerns and worries over the government's policy of introducing Jawi calligraphy in vernacular schools are understandable.


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