Much ado about Jawi lesson

Teachers are expected to get the pupils to identify the Jawi text and what it means

pic by BERNAMA

MUCH ado about nothing — may be the best way to sum up Dong Jiao Zong’s renewed call in opposing the teaching of Jawi in national textbooks beginning next year.

The three-page Jawi lessons in the Year 4 textbook — which was published by news portal Malaysiakini — showed that the words that were supposed to be taught in Jawi are “Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu”, “Bank Negara Malaysia” and “Ringgit Malaysia” on ringgit notes and “Malaysia” on stamps.

In total, there were only seven words out of which two were already published on the currency notes that we use daily. According to Malaysiakini, teachers are expected to get the pupils to identify the Jawi text and what it means.

It was not algebra or some complex actuarial exam questions if all the hullaballoos are taken into consideration.

Paranoid maybe for some that the introduction of the seven words would pave the way for “the Islamisation” of vernacular schools.

Back in August, the argument on Jawi became a hotbed, prompting Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to issue a statement that backs the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) move.

Of course, Dr Mahathir’s stance was met with resistance by Dong Jiao Zong. Dr Mahathir subsequently proceeds to label the group as racist. The group though, maintained that it was not and that other groups have opposed it too.

The MoE relented and agreed to let the schools’ Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) to decide whether the subject should be taught or not.

Last week, when these three pages were finally published, it left most of the level-headed Malaysians to question “What is the fuss all about?” Non-Malays have voiced out their opposition on Dong Jiao Zong’s actions. Some have gone to say that the group does not represent any community, except its own.

Still, Dong Jiao Zong, the hardest opponent of Jawi lesson, is not backing down with its demand to stop the lesson from being taught in schools.

In fact, it is planning to hold a Chinese Organisation Congress next week to state its opposition against the MoE’s syllabus and to urge all PTA in the primary vernacular schools to return the ministry’s lesson plan as a show of protest.

Based on the three pages, it looks like the Jawi texts are meant as an introduction to the pupils like nice fine cupcakes. Students are not expected to master the script and become master calligraphers.

DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng had said that if anyone could learn Jawi in mere three pages, he or she is a genius.

“If we can learn Jawi in three pages, we are geniuses. The lessons are not compulsory and will be decided by parents,” Lim reportedly said in a DAP Penang Convention recently.

Lim also reportedly drew similarities with the Oracle, which is the predecessor of Chinese characters.

In the current climate, the opponent of Dong Jiao Zong had described the situation as the group being given an inch and take a mile out of it, just to test its grip on the current government.

Numerous articles have been written about the existence of Jawi scripts in Malaysia. Dong Jiao Zong’s relentless fight only strengthens the public opinion of its race-based nature.

The government had addressed the issue and gave vernacular schools an option with regard to Jawi lessons. And after acres of news coverage, mudslinging and racial slurs, please tell me what is the fuss again?

Azreen Hani is the online news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.