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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Education Ministry to introduce compulsory unity module for vernacular schools

The Education Ministry says non-Malays continue to shun national schools because of the existence of Chinese and Tamil schools. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 28, 2015.The Education Ministry says non-Malays continue to shun national schools because of the existence of Chinese and Tamil schools. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 28, 2015.
The Education Ministry is drawing up a module to conduct "Bina Bangsa" or nation-building programmes for vernacular primary schools to address the lack of interaction between races among school children.
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the programme would likely be introduced next year, beginning with schools in the Klang Valley.
He said it was difficult to attract non-Malays to national schools because of the existence of national-type or vernacular schools catering to the Chinese (SJKC) and Tamil-speaking (SJKT) students.
"If we talk about unity, nation-building, we must think of how we can get children from different racial backgrounds to meet and mingle.
"It now means we must have a programme that is not selective but compulsory for kids in vernacular schools," the newly-appointed minister told The Malaysian Insider in an exclusive interview.
Malaysia's public education system has schools which use the national language, Bahasa Malaysia, as the main medium of instruction, and vernacular schools which use mother-tongue languages, such as Mandarin and Tamil.
Citing research, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid says many Malaysian students from different racial backgrounds would only meet after the age of 17 and when they attend college. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, August 28, 2015.Citing research, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid says many Malaysian students from different racial backgrounds would only meet after the age of 17 and when they attend college. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, August 28, 2015."Bina Bangsa" is meant to promote inter-racial relations among pupils from a young age, Mahdzir added.
He said research done on Malaysian students showed many from different racial backgrounds would only meet after the age of 17 and when they attend college.
"Because of that, we want to let them meet over their six years in primary school, through leadership, cultural, sports and other programmes.
"Leadership programmes for the children, for example, can have the pupils from different types of schools all going to the seaside for the events. They will learn how to respect each other's faiths and cultures.
"At least when an ustaz takes his pupils to 'solat' (pray), the non-Muslim children will know what it means and respect their Muslim peers' practices," he said.
Mahdzir said he was drawing up the nation-building module to benefit all races, not just the Malays.
But the module must be something agreed upon by everyone, including the schools' administration and parents, he added.
To roll out the module, he said the initial focus would target primary schools in the Klang Valley, and would be gradually extended to other states, including Sabah and Sarawak.
"I am not so worried about Sabah and Sarawak because they are already 1Malaysia," he said, referring to the federal government's slogan on national unity.
"In a school there, we can see pupils of different races and religions under one roof," he added.
- TMI

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