In­still­ing unity in chil­dren

New Straits Times - - News -

CHUAH BEE KIM MUAR news@nst.com.my

UNITY and pa­tri­o­tism should be in­cul­cated in the for­ma­tive years, es­pe­cially when a child is in pri­mary school. “Chil­dren of dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups should in­te­grate with one an­other. What hap­pened to songs like Muhib­bah?”

Fed­er­a­tion of the Na­tional Head­mas­ters Coun­cils pres­i­dent, Mas’oud Idris loved the nos­tal­gic com­po­si­tion so much that he started to sing a few lines from the song dur­ing an in­ter­view at SK Bakri Batu 5 here on Mon­day.

The song, com­posed in the 1970s, was pop­u­lar as it pro­moted unity and in­stilled a sense of pride.

Mas'oud, who has been in the teach­ing pro­fes­sion for four decades, said schools played a ma­jor role in shap­ing a per­son’s mind­set, at­ti­tude and be­liefs.

“Schools are places where stu­dents of var­i­ous races study, eat and play to­gether.”

Mas'oud said chil­dren and adults must em­brace the five prin­ci­ples of Rukun Ne­gara, the na­tional char­ter that in­stils gen­uine em­pa­thy for one an­other.

“The Rukun Ne­gara is a cru­cial in­gre­di­ent to unite a mul­tira­cial so­ci­ety and in­stil mu­tual re­spect.

“It stresses on pa­tri­o­tism, in­tegrity, jus­tice, good man­ners and moral­ity. This is our iden­tity," he said.

He said unity thrived in Malaysia be­cause its peo­ple beam with pride when us­ing the na­tional lan­guage.

“Ev­ery­one should speak Ba­hasa Malaysia as it brings peo­ple closer. Speak­ing, writ­ing and learn­ing a com­mon lan­guage is what binds each Malaysian to­gether,” he said.

Mas’oud said sports was an­other uni­fier that strengthen ties.

“Take bad­minton champ Datuk Lee Chong Wei for ex­am­ple. Who does not sup­port Lee?”

He said teach­ing the im­por­tance of unity must be done through ev­ery sub­ject in school. He said apart from the main school sub­jects, there should be pro­grammes that made chil­dren value unity.

“We cre­ate aware­ness on road safety, fi­nances and the dan­gers of drug. So, why not unity, too?

“Per­haps, dur­ing His­tory lessons, so that the younger gen­er­a­tion knows how our fore­fa­thers have fought to build Malaysia. How each race con­trib­uted to na­tion build­ing.”

Mas’oud said newer tech­nol­ogy, such as so­cial me­dia plat­forms and other in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy, could dis­rupt unity if they were abused by the users. He said the key lay in strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween tech­nol­ogy and prac­tices that pro­mote unity in real life.

“Peo­ple play with smart­phones more than talk­ing to one an­other. They may not have friends of dif­fer­ent Min­istry pos­si­bly tak­ing the lead.

“For me, so­ci­ety at large and politi­cians, too, have equally im­por­tant roles to play to make this into a re­al­ity,” he said, point­ing out that in­te­gra­tion and unity are not im­mi­nent in the out­side world in re­cent times.

“Small and iso­lated is­sues are blown out of pro­por­tion, and at races in real life, but they do have friends of var­i­ous races on their so­cial me­dia plat­form,” he said.

Mas’oud said the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry’s ini­tia­tives, such as the Stu­dent In­te­gra­tion Plan for Unity (RIMUP), had helped to strengthen in­te­gra­tion among the stu­dents from na­tional and ver­nac­u­lar schools. times, find its way into so­cial me­dia and af­fect unity.

“As such, there is a need to han­dle such sit­u­a­tion wisely and with wis­dom,” he said, adding that there must be ut­most tol­er­ance, good com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­op­er­a­tion to en­sure a har­mo­nious na­tion.

RIMUP was in­tro­duced to fos­ter in­ter­ac­tion be­tween stu­dents in na­tional

“Teach­ers, stu­dents and schools must con­tinue with this ef­fort by or­gan­is­ing sports, re­cre­ation or cul­tural events that gather stu­dents of all races from dif­fer­ent schools.

”This breaks the stigma of ‘you’ be­ing dif­fer­ent from ‘me’. Ev­ery­one is the same and should re­spect each other’s dif­fer­ences, be it in cul­ture or tra­di­tion,” he said. and ver­nac­u­lar schools in the same district or area through var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had re­cently said that the min­istry was mulling a re­vamp of the RIMUP pro­gramme to up the ante on boost­ing unity among school stu­dents. Au­drey Der­mawan

PIC BY AMIR IRSYAD OMAR

Malaysian School Prin­ci­pals Coun­cil (MPSM) pres­i­dent and SM Sains Tuan Syed Sheh Sha­habudin prin­ci­pal Ja­maludin Yaa­cob (cen­tre) and teacher Goey Seow Hooi (third from right) in­ter­act­ing with school stu­dents in Bukit Mer­ta­jam.

PIC BY ESSA ABU YAMIN

Teach­ers help­ing their stu­dents with their school­work at SK Bakri

Batu 5 in Muar.

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