NA­TIONAL CO­HE­SION

New Straits Times - - Letters - (At press time, Reuters, quot­ing the Is­rael Prison Ser­vice and a Pales­tinian of­fi­cial, re­ported that more than 800 in­mates ended their hunger strike on Satur­day after talks be­tween the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross and the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity

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;

RUKUN Ne­gara;

GOOD gov­er­nance prin­ci­ples and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment cores;

CIVIC na­tion­al­ism;

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

REUTERS PIC

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.

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