Multilingual Resource Manual Addresses Not Qualms Jawi Learning Implementation to Be Set Aside Urged

Joint Statement Released by Dong Zong and Jiao Zong

December 21, 2020

Multilingual Resource Manual Addresses Not Qualms

Jawi Learning Implementation to Be Set Aside Urged

The “Multilingual Resource Manual” introduced by the Deputy Education Minister Mah Hang Soon of late including not only Jawi, but also Chinese, Tamil, as well as the native languages of Sabah and Sarawak to resume the multilingual teaching in Grade Four Bahasa Melayu coursebook was claimed to address the concerns of many over the Jawi teaching issue. Yet Dong Jiao Zong otherwise opines the said supplementary reference cannot alleviate the doubts on the contents of the existing coursebook. Rather, the MOE needs to set aside all the contentious measures and earnestly review the Jawi calligraphy issue.

Mah Hang Soon’s proposal is well in sync with the persistent stance of Dong Jiao Zong and other Chinese organisations; that is, to continuously employ the multivariate presentation approach in Grade Five Bahasa Melayu coursebook in the introduction of calligraphy and language of other ethnic groups so as to embody the multiracial inherence of the country as well as promoting inter-cultural interactions.

In a recent survey conducted by Dong Jiao Zong, almost all parents of vernacular Chinese and Tamil school students reject the Jawi script unit in Grade Four Bahasa Melayu coursebook. Of all 1,298 vernacular Chinese schools, 1,275 (98.23 percent) schools oppose to the Jawi calligraphy teaching, only a meagre 23 schools agree. We thus urge the MOE to set aside the controversial measure prior to the implementation and conduct an overall review beforehand, but not after having pushed out all Grade Four to Six coursebooks. It is feared that once the implementation is in practice, internal conflicts will be generated within the schools as confrontation between the schools and parents as well as the Parent and Teacher Associations will emerge which in actual fact undermines the decision power of the school boards. For the respect of the managerial power endowed upon school boards in Education Act 1996, the MOE should designate the vernacular school board decision maker on the Jawi script issue.

The Jawi script teaching worries of the general public saliently exhibit the seminal impact of social trust towards government policies. To avoid recommitting similar error, we urge the MOE to convene Chinese and Indian educational organisations for the formation of a multilingual teaching committee such that all relevant stakeholders can partake in decision making and supervision on Jawi script implementation in vernacular primary schools.