The teaching of Jawi in primary schools

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public Rally held at Bukit Gambir (Muar District) on Thursday, 16th March 1972 at 8 p.m.

The teaching of Jawi in primary schools

Recently, UMNO and UMNO youth have been building up pressure demanding that Jawi should be taught as a compulsory subject in schools.

The DAP is opposed to Jawi being made a compulsory subject for primary and secondary school students. This is because according to the Malaysian Constitution, the National Language is Malay Language in the Rumi script.

From my recent visit to various States of West Malaysia, right up to Penang, I gather the impression that parents particularly of non-Malay school children are worried that their children will be compelled to learn Jawi.

Already, their children find difficulty in learning the National Language, because there are not sufficient teachers who are competent and qualified to teach Bahasa Malaysia.

To further require school students to learn Jawi will increase more problems in the education of the young. Any attempt to make Jawi a compulsory subject of study in national and national-type schools is a retrogressive, reactionary and short-sighted move, and must be opposed by all right-thinking Malaysians. The DAP will be strongly opposed to any such move.

I would advise the Ministry of Education to resist all pressures to make Jawi a compulsory subject of study. I would also advise parents who find that their children are compelled to study Jawi against their will to get in touch with any DAP Member of Parliament of Branch, and we shall take up the matter with the proper authorities concerned.

If there is any language, apart from Bahasa Malaysia, which is to be made compulsory, it should be the student’s mother tongue.

In the last few days, we read in the press of the concern expressed by the Ministry of Education over the low standard of English taught and attained by the rural students. This concern is legitimate. But concern should also be shown to the deteriorating standards of English, the language of science and technology, in urban schools as well. These should be matters of priority to the Ministry of Education, and not making Jawi a compulsory subject of study against the will of the students and parents.