Khat ― Timing and acceptance ― Saleh Mohammed

AUGUST 10 ― Most of us can recall how difficult it is to find the right time and place to propose to our girlfriend. The same applies for the introduction of khat in Year Four next year.

Timing isn't everything, but it's a big thing. Advertisers will agree to this ― getting to the target audience at the right time in the right place.

Khat or calligraphy (Greek ― beautiful writing) is a kind of visual art. Islamic Khat is a practice of literary or khat art based on Arabic writing which for a long time has been used by all Muslims in their respective languages.

The plan on khat was met with a rash of reactions from various groups especially non-Muslim groups citing it is religious intrusion that runs contrary to the country’s constitution. DAP secretary-general said it showed a trust deficit within the community after “61 years of broken promises and unfair treatment”. Further, there were no prior consultation with stakeholders.

The intention may be good but it is just the timing.

Recently, a research done by the World Bank showed despite going to school for an average of 12 years, Malaysian students get only about nine years’ worth of meaningful education. For Singapore, it is a perfect score. The aggregate score on the human capital index for Malaysia is 0.62, which means Malaysian children today, will fulfill only about 62 per cent of their potential.

Compared to other East Asia Pacific countries, Malaysia may be performing well but the gap is visible when compared against high income nations.

For vernacular schools, the reason why parents of non-Malays clamour to send their children to is because in these schools, there is no discrimination and most teachers are very hardworking, competent and they produce the best students.

I guess if the national schools can emulate the vernacular schools, there is no reason to have the latter.

Historically, Malaya's educational system lacked uniformity and a policy which would be relevant to the political and socio-economic goals of the people. Malays, Chinese and Indians ran their own schools ― the latter two importing syllabus used in the countries of their origin. The Barnes Report recommended a national school system which would provide primary education in Malay and English hoping that over a period of time, separate schools in Chinese and Tamil would wane and disappear. The reaction of the Chinese community to the Barnes Report was clearly not positive.

More recently, the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 which took two years to compile was released. The then Minister of Education said the government has set ambitious but achievable aspirations to transform the higher education system focusing on access, quality, equity, unity, and efficiency; and those for individual students, covering the six primary attributes ― ethics and spirituality, leadership skills, national identity, language proficiency, thinking skills, and knowledge.

However, the Eleventh Malaysia Plan considers people as a factor of production without addressing properly the needs of the education system to produce learned, trained and emotionally balanced world class Malaysian citizens.

Very often, we hear SPM school-leavers who are not academically inclined are at a loss after getting their results. The plan to strengthen and empower technical and vocational education and training (TVET) has not achieved its desired results.

Given the above, there are many other urgent matters to deal with instead of introducing khat. The preparation process may have started in 2015 and it is a national heritage but it can wait.

Some matters are urgent and others require patience.

If most of the above have been dealt with and the rich, including the children of the politicians go to the national schools when they are not attending vernacular schools, I see no reason not to accept a national heritage.

Then their loyalty and patriotism will be questionable.

What say you

Salam Aidiladha to all Muslims.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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