DAP's Bukit Assek assemblyperson Irene Mary Chang Oi Ling (photo, above) wants the Education Ministry to clarify its statement on the revision to the introduction of khat lessons in primary school.
Chang said the Education Ministry's definition of "optional" was confusing.
"Education Minister Maszlee Malik should clarify the word 'optional' when he announced that 'the introduction of khat would be implemented in an optional manner and teachers would be given the power to decide how to implement it in their respective classrooms'.
"The statement is causing confusion on whether the teachers are given the option whether to teach or not to teach the Jawi calligraphy or have they only been given the option in the manner of implementation," she said in a statement today.
Chang said the unclear statement had led to conflicting news reports.
"In order for the schools and teachers to make the necessary preparations for the next school year, this needs to be clarified by the Ministry," she said.
Chang added that Sarawak DAP's position is for parents to exercise the option on whether their children should learn khat.
"The option should not be given to the teachers as that would be unfair to them as the majority of the teachers might feel obligated to teach simply because they have been included in the subject’s Bahasa Malaysia syllabus and also because it has been turned into a political issue.
"Teachers should not be burdened with this responsibility because, in the same classroom, there are bound to be parents who might want their children to learn and others who might not want their children to learn the calligraphy," she said.
On Thursday, Maszlee announced the initial plan to introduce six pages of khat lessons in the Year 4 Bahasa Malaysia textbook will be slashed to three pages and that they would be optional.
This was amid push back from the non-Malay community over concerns of Islamisation in vernacular schools, which Maszlee has denied.
However, Chang said people were still unhappy and distrust the Education Ministry.
"This is compounded by the fact that the people have not forgotten the minister’s previous statement made in December last year when he had advised Islamic religious teachers to stay back in Sabah and Sarawak to propagate Islam to the students in Sarawak.
"Therefore, he should not be surprised that the present move is met with much suspicion and resistance," he said.