Maszlee: Don’t harm kids’ education just to protest jawi classes

Education Minister Maszlee Malik speaks during a press conference at the National Educational Research and Innovation Conference in Gelugor August 27, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Education Minister Maszlee Malik speaks during a press conference at the National Educational Research and Innovation Conference in Gelugor August 27, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 27 — Groups threatening a student boycott to protest jawi lessons in national schools will only deprive the affected children of their schooling, Education Minister Maszlee Malik said today.

The minister urged such groups to act with restraint rather than emotions.

“I call on them to go back to rationality and common sense. Education is important and preventing children from going to school will only lead to them being exposed to social ills,” he said in a press conference after attending a National Education, Innovation and Research Conference here. 

He said children were in school to learn, and groups such Seni Khat Action Team (Sekat) should not stand in the way of this, further advising other parents not to be caught up with this.

Recently, the group’s members threatened to stop sending their children to school unless Putrajaya agreed to their demand for a dialogue on jawi lessons.

Yesterday, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman denounced the group as behaving with irrational arrogance. 

Putrajaya initially proposed the introduction of khat, a form of jawi calligraphy, to Year Four students in vernacular schools but met with heavy protests from the country’s minorities. 

On August 14, the Ministry of Education announced that the vernacular schools will only teach the jawi script at a basic level instead of khat calligraphy and that these lessons are only implemented with the consent of students and each school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

However, some groups continue to oppose the lessons entirely including some that planned an abortive protest in Brickfields over the weekend.

When asked about his ministry’s view on homeschooling system, Maszlee stressed that schools are still the best place for children to learn.

“The problem with homeschooling is that some parents are not well educated and were not able to homeschool their children properly and this will only lead to a vicious cycle of low academic performance,” he said.

He said only some well-to-do and highly educated parents are able to homeschool their children while those living in the rural areas and slums do not have the capabilities to do so.

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