The Education Ministry has explained that the introduction of "khat" or calligraphy art in the Bahasa Malaysia curriculum for primary Year 4 students was to foster beautiful writing.
The ministry stressed that subject matter did not pertain to Jawi scripts and students were not assessed on it in examinations.
“The Education Ministry would like to explain that tulisan khat (calligraphy) refers to line art (the thickness or slimness of a line). In the context of the Bahasa Malaysia curriculum, khat art refers to script art or calligraphy in Bahasa Malaysia and not Jawi script.
“The art was introduced to train students to write beautifully and to instil an element of fun in teaching and learning activities in schools,” it said in a statement today.
The statement went on to explain that it was also compulsory for trainee teachers at the Teacher Education Institute of Malaysia who opted for Bahasa Melayu to take an introductory paper on Jawi and Rumi writing.
The ministry said students have been similarly taught script art in other languages such as English and Chinese.
“In English, students are taught basic literacy phonic dan penmanship in year one and two. In Chinese, students are taught mopit writing, which is the art of Chinese calligraphy, beginning in Year 3 to Form 5,” it said.
The ministry also claimed to have received positive feedback from teachers and students from a pioneer project in several schools.
The statement was issued after the inclusion of khat art was recently reported in a Chinese daily.
Sinchew Daily had reported that Bahasa Malaysia subject teachers at vernacular schools were asked to undergo training for khat art in the new curriculum.
Quoting a source, the daily reported that while training did cover the general script writing, the focus was more towards Jawi script art.
The source raised the concern that teachers who are unfamiliar with Jawi would not be able to adequately teach khat art to students.