Is Arabic Language compulsory
for all students from 2005? Hishamuddin Hussein must act now that his
officials in the state education department and the school were
contradicting each other
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew
Indra of Cheras Selangor brought her case to the DAP last Sunday. She claims
that her nephew who was enrolled with Sek Keb Taman Puteri Cheras, Selangor
as a Standard One student next year was forced to buy Arabic Language
textbook and workbook, as the headmistress of the school claims that the
subject is compulsory for all students (including the non-Muslims),and that
was the directive of the Selangor Department of Education.
DAP views the matter seriously
and wanted the Minister of Education Datuk Hishamuddin Hussein to clarify
the matter immediately with a clear directive to all schools before they
reopen on 3 January 2005.After the DAP’s press conference on Sunday, Malay
Mail reporter Nuradzimmah Daim got a clarification from a Selangor Education
Department spokesperson that the subject is not compulsory for non-Muslims
pupils. Her story was reported yesterday (27 Dec 2004) with the title:
Arabic Optional For Non- Muslims. In another words, the subject is not
compulsory for non-Muslim Standard One pupils next year.
The spokesperson said it was
optional for the non-Muslim pupils to take up Arabic, Chinese and Tamil
languages next year. "Even then, schools have to get the consent of the
parents of non-Muslim pupils," he said.
But all is not over. Despite
the confirmation from the Selangor Education Department, the Taman Puteri
national primary school is still maintaining that Arabic Language is
mandatory for next term's Standard One pupils.
The senior school official when
contacted by the Malay Mail yesterday maintained that the students will be
grades on the subject and it will be taught as a foreign language class for
the non-Muslims. The same official claims that the optional condition only
applies to the POL (Pupils Own Language) program for Standard 3 to Standard
6 pupils. This story came up in the Malay Mail today entitled School: Arabic
lesson for non-Muslims to stay.
But a check with the
headmistress of the school today got us a different story. She is now saying
that Arabic Language is not compulsory for non-Muslims students, and those
who have bought the textbooks and workbooks earlier could get a refund from
the school. So, who should the parents listen to now? The state education
department? The headmistress? Or the school's senior official?
Hishamuddin must not be keeping
mum any further now that his officials in the state department and the
school were contradicting each other on the subject. He must honour what he
has said when the J-QAF pilot project was launched on 24 April this year. He
must also understand that this is a very sensitive issue and need to be
resolved before 3 January 2005.
He must not wait until more
unhappy non-Muslim parents calling up or confronting the school or the
education department directly on the matter.
* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP International Secretary and NGO