The United Chinese School Committees' Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) today expressed continued reservation towards Jawi lessons for Standard Four pupils, despite the Education Ministry introducing additional measures to assuage non-Malay concerns.
In a joint statement with eight other organisations, Dong Zong said the ministry's rule that the lessons should only be taught with the endorsement of parent-teacher associations (PTAs), parents and students is problematic.
"We are of the opinion that this will cause all kinds of problems and difficulties in terms of implementation and can't be properly implemented," the statement read.
"More so when many Chinese primary schools in Sabah and Sarawak do not have PTAs."
Dong Zong said it would be more suitable for the respective school boards to decide on the matter, as it already comprises representatives from PTAs and alumni associations.
Make lessons public
The group acknowledged the government's efforts to assuage concerns over the Jawi lessons, and supported these not being referred to as khat.
"In our view, the government is concerned about the non-Muslim community and has taken steps to address concerns of the non-Muslim community which is the right move," it said.
However, Dong Zong wants the ministry to make public the planned Jawi lessons that will be introduced to the Standard Four Bahasa Malaysia textbook in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
"The Education Ministry should first consult and seek agreement from stakeholders, particularly Dong Zong, Jiao Dong, and Tamil educationist groups before making a decision.
"This is in the interest of assuaging public concerns and to preserve the identity of Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools.
"The Education Ministry should hold engagement sessions with organisations from all races from time to time so that differences of opinions can be resolved rationally through discussion so as to improve racial harmony and unity."
Dong Zong said it would continue to engage all stakeholders and collect more information on the implementation of the Jawi lessons and take appropriate follow-up action.
The joint statement was also endorsed by the United Chinese School Teachers’ Association of Malaysia (Jiao Dong), Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong), Federation of Chinese School Alumni Associations, Federation of Alumni Association of Taiwan Universities Malaysia.
Other signatories are Merdeka University Bhd, LLG Cultural Development Center, Malaysia Chinese Language Council and The Association of Graduates from Universities and Colleges of China Malaysia.
The Education Ministry had initially planned to introduce six pages of Jawi lessons to the Standard Four Bahasa Malaysia textbook, but cut this down to three and made its teaching optional after strong pushback from the non-Malay community.
However, the objections continued, prompting the government to announce that the lessons require the endorsement of PTAs before being implemented.