KUCHING: Under fire for the introduction of khat or Jawi calligraphy for Year 4 pupils in all schools from next year, Education Minister Maszlee Malik pointed out today that the move was decided even before Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the government and that it would not be tested or assessed.
“The introduction of khat calligraphy is decided during the revision of the curriculum (KSSR) in 2014,” he said, using the Malay acronym for Primary School Standards-Based Curriculum.
The minister said this in a reply to the question of “When was this decision to include khat calligraphy made?” in a post on his Facebook page which was written as replies to frequently asked questions (FAQ).
Maszlee also pointed out that the introduction of khat was not confined to national schools but all primary schools, and that after it is implemented for Year 4 pupils next year, it will be introduced in Year 5 classes in 2021 and Year 6 in 2022.
The move to introduce khat in schools by the PH government, which swept to power in the general election in May last year, has been met with criticism from lawmakers as well as vernacular education groups throughout the country.
To the question of “What is the purpose of the introduction of khat writing?”, Maszlee said khat serves as an aspect of language arts to enrich students with knowledge on history, art and heritage of Bahasa Malaysia.
“It will take up six out of 164 pages of the new Bahasa Malaysia Standard 4 textbook as part of language art activities,” he said.
On whether students could master Jawi through the six pages of the textbook, Maszlee said the implementation of khat calligraphy was not comprehensive learning to master Jawi.
On why non-Malay students are forced to study khat calligraphy, he replied: “The introduction of khat calligraphy is meant as an attempt to enhance the knowledge on history, art and heritage of Bahasa Malaysia, not as a force.
“In addition to this, Jawi script writing has also been taught in SJK through Bahasa Malaysia curriculum since 2015. This can be referred to SJK Year 5 (2015 edition) page 85 to 88 under Theme 6; Culture and Nation Appreciation (Unit 17 – The Writing Art).”
To the question of why coding and others were not taught, he said his ministry introduced coding to primary and secondary students through the revised Primary School Standards-Based Curriculum (KSSR) and Secondary School Standards-Based Curriculum (KSSM) in 2017.
This involves Level 2 students (Year 4 to 5) in primary school and Form 1 to 3 in secondary school.
The element of coding is incorporated within the subject of Technology Design and Computer Science, he added.