A move by the state government to include Jawi script on signboards in all its schools, including missionary schools, has raised the ire of educational activists and politicians.
A circular dated Nov 2 from the Malacca Education Department was sent to all schools, stating that it was now compulsory for Jawi, together with the romanised Bahasa Malaysia, to be displayed on their signboards.
It also warned that an evaluation panel would be visiting the schools on Feb 1.
A check by The Star revealed that the authorities for vernacular schools had yet to receive such a circular.
In a joint statement, Malacca MCA vice-chairmen Datuk Lim Ban Hong and Lai Meng Chong said Jawi was unnecessary because school signboards were already displaying romanised Bahasa Malaysia.
â€œMCA is in the midst of garnering feedback from all vernacular schools in the state to see if they have received the circular,â€ they said, pointing out that as of yesterday, no SRJK (C) had received the directive.
In August, the state government had made it compulsory for Jawi to be included on signboards in all departments, agencies and local governments by the end of this month.
State Housing, Local Government and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ismail Othman said this was to value the script and not for any other reason.
Malacca Chinese Education Progressive Association chairman Yang Ying Chong called the directive â€œunreasonableâ€ and â€œunacceptableâ€ as Jawi script did not represent the identity of Chinese schools and its use was not enshrined under the Federal Constitution.
â€œThis was made in a hurry without considering its impact on the community. I have advised all headmasters and principals to ignore the call. If we are forced to do so, we will go all out to defend our schools,â€ he said.
Malacca Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin said Jawi should first be made a learning subject before such a directive was issued.
â€œItâ€™s pity when most teachers and students wouldnâ€™t understand what is written. We are wasting resources and funds if the state government just wants to have Jawi on signboards for decorative purposes,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Art Institute of Malacca, one of the agencies appointed by the state government to strengthen the usage of Jawi, clarified that vernacular schools were only encouraged to include the script.
â€œThe guideline on the use clearly states that national-type schools are encouraged and not forced to change their signboards.
â€œWe donâ€™t know how the word â€˜compulsoryâ€™ came to be in the circular,â€ it said.-The Star