role to play as educators and mentors of a large segment of the country’s population, who are graduates, postgraduates and undergraduates.
They form the fraternity of the country’s top academicians and scholars of international repute.
At Dialog Rakyat 3, the universities took pains to explain their vision and mission, among which is the resounding pledge to promote national cohesion and interethnic integration.
Their reports highlighted the community activities organised for and by students to demonstrate collaborative efforts and teamwork in corporate social responsibility-type of programmes.
Kudos to the students involved in these co-curricular activities; credits are given in their semester assessment.
However, what is absent in the university curriculum is a standalone credit course or teachinglearning module focused on topics that are relevant to the understanding of national cohesion and unity.
For instance, topics that cover multiculturalism and diversity, ethnic identity and national identity, dimensions of culture and common values are important in providing students with a strong knowledge base to fully comprehend what the community-based activities entail.
The two components must run sequentially, or at least concurrently, so that they are impactful learning experiences.
The Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason’s (PCORE) presentation titled “Managing Identity, Diversity and Inclusion” attempted to fill the gap with a 12-unit module spanning one semester to be completed prior to the co-curricular requirement. The units proposed are:
MULTIFARIOUS identities — personal, social and cultural — and their construction in everyday life;
ETHNIC identity and national identity;
FUNCTION of rituals in shaping ethnic and national identity;
UNIVERSAL cultural and religious values across communities;
TRANSLATING national mechanisms and philosophies; FEDERAL Constitution;
GOOD governance principles and community engagement cores;
NEW identities and ethnicities; MODERN modes of communication; and,
ROLE of media in fostering social/national cohesion
The range of concepts, principles, theories and interpretations, which will be covered through lectures, seminars, library work and experiential learning, will equip students with a strong foundation to better handle hands-on experiences. They will undertake community work and volunteerism with greater understanding and empathy.
Another novel proposal by PCORE is a cross-university Campus Diversity Survey based on the Marywood University model, where students are asked to respond to statements assessing their attitudes and behaviour pertaining to aspects of the university environment.
The results of the survey will measure the cultural intelligence quotient of Malaysian university students across the country.
It is hoped that by adopting best practices and interventions, Malaysia will be better positioned to achieve national unity. DATUK HALIMAH MOHD SAID President, Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason
Palestinians celebrating after hundreds of Palestinian prisoners ended a hunger strike over their conditions in Israeli jails, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Saturday.