PETALING JAYA: Child rights activist James Nagayam has urged politicians to be aware that schoolchildren can be influenced by their rhetoric and therefore to refrain from issuing racist statements.
Speaking to FMT, he said politicians must take part of the blame for racism in schools.
He said even primary school pupils nowadays followed the news and would begin passing racial remarks by the time they had reached the secondary level. “At the college and university level, they would already segregate themselves by race.”
He pointed out that today’s children had better access to information than did children of the past and were being exposed to current events at a much faster rate.
He said it did not help that the main conversations in the country today were about the political situation.
“People are discussing the political situation at home, during social activities and in places of worship, and children are picking up on what’s happening.”
He said there were even teachers passing on their opinions to their classes.
“Some teachers are tactical and know how to handle the situation, but some are not trained for it,” he said. “I know of at least 100 teachers who have been transferred because of their political beliefs.”
Tajuddin Rasdi, a professor at UCSI University, said the key to making students more accepting of classmates of different races lay in modifying the school curriculum.
He said schools were putting too much emphasis on traditional subjects such as Mathematics and Science and not enough on programmes to teach students to understand and celebrate their differences.
“I’ve seen the changes in the Education Blueprint and I don’t see anything to address the matters I’ve raised,” he said. “They are talking about branded learning, using computers, all the physical stuff.”
In more developed countries, he said, schools had introduced subjects such as Social Science and Environmental Concerns.
“The traditional subjects are outdated and they isolate students from a lot of things. We should be concerning ourselves with the content of our curriculum instead of the hardware of computers.” -FMT