Jump-starting Youngsters’ Jawi Skills

Norizan Mat Diah, Marina Ismail, Putri Mazliana Abdul Hami and Suzana Ahmad of UiTM Shah Alam, Malaysia developed a software to teach children Jawi calligraphy.

The Fine Art of Writing Jawi

Jump-starting Youngsters’ Jawi Skills

UiTM lecturers are reviving Jawi, the characters of Arabic scripts which are adapted to the sound of Malay language. Learning it is challenging as one has to know the characters and their shape, writing, connecting the characters and finally reading the text. Norizan Mat Diah, Marina Ismail, Putri Mazliana Abdul Hami and Suzana Ahmad of UiTM Shah Alam hence developed a software to teach children between the ages of 4 to 6 years old to write the Jawi characters.

Arabic language is known as one of the most difficult languages to be learnt in the world. Thus originating from Arabic, Jawi is difficult. It has existed a long time in the Malaysian history but unfortunately the full use of the Roman characters in communication has reduced interest in Jawi.

Jawi letters are difficult for children to write as they require the use of fine motor skills. Research indicated that up to 95% of students had negative attitudes towards Jawi because they found it very complicated. It was found that some 9-year old children were unable to master Jawi writing but adept at Romanised writing. They felt that Jawi is not important especially when the subject is not assessed in the national level examinations, which decreases motivation and enthusiasm to learn. No wonder there are still people who cannot read or write Jawi although

Muslim children in Malaysia, nonetheless, need to master Jawi as the skills will help them to read and recite the the Qur'an, learn the Arabic language and subjects of Islamic knowledge. For students who are unable to master the Jawi, they will be left behind in the Islamic subjects as Jawi is commonly used by teachers as a tool or medium to teach these subjects.

Although Jawi is currently taught in schools, the methods used to teach Jawi writing are not interesting. Steps are, therefore, needed to inculcate the love for Jawi among children using more appealing and interactive teaching methods. A suitable learning tool such as having an educational multimedia courseware with appropriate interactive tools and proper interface which is designed to develop interest towards learning to write Jawi characters is, therefore, needed.

As such, Norizan Mat Diah, Marina Ismail, Putri Mazliana Abdul Hami, and Suzana Ahmad of UiTM Shah Alam discussed the software development issues for children between the ages of 4 to 6 years old in learning to write the Jawi characters, focusing on the motor skills development in the writing process. The software has been developed using the Hannafin and Peck's Instructional Model which is divided into three phases: needs assessment, design and, development and implementation phases. The design of the learning process focuses on the hand movements in the writing process which includes the demonstration on proper pencil-holding technique, the pre-writing activity, exercise and evaluation. The software has been tested on target users for its multimedia appearance, learnability and capability to scaffold learners’ writing activities using graphic tablet. The research was mainly carried out to attract children to learn to write Jawi and increase their interest and understanding in the subject.

The findings show that the software allows young children learn to write Jawi at a very early age. In this research, the development of motor skills when the children moved their fingers and hands had helped them improve their writing skills. The software teaches the young writers to hold a pen in a proper manner when writing the Jawi characters. The results in fact prove that learners enjoy using the application for its multimedia appearance. The software has also been proven to induce the rate of learnability as the software is user-friendly.

Looks like youngsters today do not have any more excuses for not mastering Jawi!

Information contact:
Norizan Mat Diah
Marina Ismail
Putri Mazliana Abdul Hami
Suzana Ahmad

Computer Science Department,
Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
UiTM Shah Alam

[email protected]

Published: 14 Feb 2012

Contact details:

Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Institute of Research, Development and Commersialisation (IRDC) Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam, 50450 Shah Alam Selangor Malaysia

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