KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet has given the greenlight for the Education Ministry to introduce ‘khat’ in the Year Four Bahasa Melayu syllabus next year.
Education Minister Maszlee Malik said the decision was made on Wednesday in a meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
“They (Cabinet members) have decided to go ahead with the proposal. The ministry has however been directed to make adjustments to its initial plans.
According to Maszlee, the Cabinet had decided that the syllabus would only cover three pages of the subject’s text book instead of six, which was proposed earlier.
He said it had also been decided that teachers had the option as to the method of delivery for the introduction of khat in their classes.
“The Cabinet has also stood by the ministry’s stand that khat would not be evaluated in any tests or examinations.
“I hope the khat issue will no longer be raised inaccurately and create confusion. We will continue with our engagement and consultation sessions with all parties for the well-being of education in the country,” he told reporters in Putrajaya here today.
When asked about whether these ‘options’ for teachers include the prerogative not to teach khat, Maszlee circled back by saying the ‘khat’ would not be tested.
Parents and rights groups have been vociferously divided over the issue since it came to light last week.
Tamil and Chinese education groups met Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching on the plan to teach Malay-Arabic calligraphy - also known as Jawi or "khat" writing - as part of the Bahasa Melayu subject for Year Four students.
Some have complained that children and teachers would be burdened, while others speculated that it was a subtle move towards Islamisation.
Teo’s Facebook page has also been inundated by parents expressing their unhappinesss.
A total of 138 officials and assemblymen from the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP), which is part of the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, have also opposed the plan and urged ministers from the party to do the same.
However, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang warned Malaysians of such divisive politics.
"We must be careful not to fall into the trap of conspirators who want to pit race against race, religion against religion, to arouse suspicion, distrust and hatred in our plural society to regain political power," he said in a statement.
He added that learning Jawi did not make him less Malaysian. However, Lim has not come out to say whether he is for or against it.