Education Ministry decides to make khat optional, not compulsory (Updated)

08 Aug 2019 / 18:25 H.

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry has decided to make khat (Malay-Arabic calligraphy) optional, instead of compulsory as previously decided.

Education Minister Maszlee Malik said teachers would be given the prerogative to decide on the method of the implementation of the art of khat in their classrooms.

“It (taking up khat) will depend on the respective teachers,” he told a press conference, here, today, when asked if his announcement meant students would be given the option of choosing.

Maszlee said the decision was made after the matter was discussed at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

According to the minister, the topic on Khat would only be allocated three pages in the Bahasa Melayu textbook, down from its proposed six.

“The Cabinet has also unanimously agreed that Khat calligraphy will not be tested in any tests or examinations,” he said.

He said khat is only one of many topics in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus, and how it is taught is up to teachers’ creativity.

“It (khat) is in the textbook. It is up to teachers to use their own creativity,” he said.

He added that khat is an introduction of Jawi script to the public.

“We want to educate pupils about the country’s heritage. We can see the Jawi script in many places, even on ringgit notes.”

The ministry had last week announced that khat would be introduced into the Bahasa Malaysia syllabus for Year 4 pupils, including to those studying in vernacular schools, beginning next year.

The decision has not gone down well with many, who argued that pupils should not be forced to take up the calligraphy.

DAP leaders and vernacular educationist groups were among those to have given the thumbs down to the ministry, claiming khat would only serve as an added burden on the pupils.

Commenting further, Maszlee said he hoped that following the Cabinet’s decision, all quarters would not raise the matter up any longer, to the extent of causing confusion among the public.

“The ministry will continue to hold engagements from time to time with all parties for the good and benefit of the national education system,” he added.

Previously, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching had said people should be open to learning the arts and cultures of others in order to understand their uniqueness and strengths and move forward as a united nation.

She said the move by the ministry to introduce khat calligraphy was the right move and is in line with the status of Jawi as the nation’s legacy that needed to be preserved.

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