Education Minister Hishamuddin Hussein must clarify issues relating to J-QAF before school reopens on 3 January 2005

Press Statement
by Ronnie Liu

(Petaling Jaya,  Monday): Non-Muslim parents who have kids studying in Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Puteri, Cheras, Selangor were required to buy Arabic Language textbooks and workbooks as they were told by the headmistress that this subject was compulsory for their Standard One children under the new J-QAF scheme.

Madam Indra brought the case to the DAP yesterday. Her nephew was enrolled with the school and her sister was asked to buy one textbook and one workbook on Arabic Language last Friday. The headmistress of Sek Keb Taman Puteri insists that she was merely following the directive of state education department. She also refused to allow non-Muslim kids to study their mother tongue language simply because the school do not have
any Tamil or Mandarin language teachers.

There are two big questions need to be answered by the Minister of Education Datuk Hishamuddin Hussein: one, is Arabic Language a compulsory subject for non-Muslim students beginning from 2005, and two, there seems to be no efforts to recruit sufficient Tamil and Chinese language teachers on the part of the school and the ministry of education.

When Hishamuddin first spoke about J-QAF (as a pilot project for 30 selected schools) on 24 April 2004 in Kuala Terengganu, he has explained that Arabic Language and other Islamic subjects were meant for the Muslim students under the so-called Islam Hadhari policy; he also specifically said that Arabic Language will only be offered as an optional subject for the non-Muslim students.

He should now immediately investigate the matter and clarify the issue before all schools reopen on 3 January 2005.

He must also direct his ministry to recruit sufficient Tamil and Chinese Language teachers for the POL subject. There is no two ways about it.

As a minister of education, he should know the sensitivity of the matter and fully aware that such Islamisation policy would only drive away non-Muslim students from national primary schools.

Note: J-QAF=Jawi, Al Quran, Arabic Language and Fardhu Ain (obligatory practices for Muslims)


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief