Good Life

The latest furore in Malaysian education follows the Ministry of Education’s announcement on the introduction of khat (caligraphy of the jawi script) as part of the Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) curriculum in standard 4 in all primary schools (national and national-type/vernacular).

I wrote an op-ed for the New Straits Time in relation to this issue, focusing on how some dissenters questioned the move in relation to the country’s supposed priorities for development, and education’s associated role in this project.

Coda: Since the op-ed below was published, the Ministry announced that teaching of khat would be optional for vernacular schools, due to strong public backlash along religio-ethnic lines. This issue serves as an example of how education in Malaysia is often susceptible to politicisation; any decision can easily be misconstrued to contribute to the fracturing of fragile ethnic relations.

Knowledge for ‘good life’: Which to use?

WHEN I was in secondary school, I enjoyed the craft of khat and often participated in extracurricular competitions associated with it. Although much of what I composed were Quranic scripts fashioned in intricate and hypnotic permutations, what motivated me more was the opportunity for artistic expression, rather than nascent religious fervour.

Khat offered a respite from an educational experience that predominantly emphasised and valued science instead of the arts. I was, after all, a student in one of the many ‘science schools’, which the government had set up as part of the national development strategy.

I excavate this personal anecdote as a way to reflect on the current polarised debate about the introduction of khat as part of the Bahasa Melayu curriculum in standard 4 of primary schools beginning 2020.

Read more here.

To cite this article:

Aizuddin, M. A. (2019, August 7). Knowledge for ‘good life’: Which to use? New Straits Times, Retrieved from

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