Fos­ter­ing mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - EDUCATION GUIDE -

MALAYSIA, with a pop­u­la­tion of 28 mil­lion peo­ple, is a mul­ti­cul­tural and mul­tire­li­gious coun­try. It is in­evitable that we need to ad­dress the is­sue of na­tional unity.

Many is­sues re­lated to na­tional in­te­gra­tion, seg­re­ga­tion and po­lar­i­sa­tion have their an­swers in early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion.

It is im­por­tant to pro­vide young chil­dren with so­cial skills for suc­cess­ful in­ter­ac­tion in an in­creas­ingly di­verse and dy­namic so­ci­ety in Malaysia.

Kolej Dika, a spe­cial­ist col­lege in early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion, is of­fer­ing mul­ti­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion to our early child­hood ed­u­ca­tors – with the Ca­ter­ing for Di­ver­sity in Young Learn­ers mo­d­ule.

It be­lieves that the seeds of unity, in­te­gra­tion and har­mony must be sown when chil­dren are preschool­ers, as they are like vir­gin soil for these seeds to ger­mi­nate and grow into great trees that the na­tion can be proud of.

These chil­dren will ful­fil the na­tion’s as­pi­ra­tions for a peace­ful and eq­ui­table Malaysian so­ci­ety. These ed­u­ca­tors will then teach the chil­dren they work with.

The col­lege’s goal is to pre­pare chil­dren to recog­nise and re­spect their own cul­ture. They should also un­der­stand and re­spect the cul­ture of oth­ers. The pro­gramme is also in­tended to help chil­dren ex­pe­ri­ence the dif­fer­ent cul­tures in or­der to en­hance their de­vel­op­ment and sub­se­quently their ma­tu­rity.

Ed­u­ca­tors are taught to iden­tify their own cul­ture, the cul­ture of the chil­dren they work with and to be fair to all chil­dren.

They are also in­structed to ac­cept and re­spect all chil­dren – chil­dren will feel ac­cep­tance, val­i­da­tion, a sense of be­long­ing and value.

This trans­lates into pos­i­tive self­es­teem and, sub­se­quently, bet­ter aca­demic achieve­ment and be­hav­iour.

By the end of the pro­gramme, chil­dren will learn to treat oth­ers with re­spect, equal­ity, fair­ness, jus­tice and eq­uity.

An early child­hood filled with di­verse cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences is nec­es­sary. If not, chil­dren may end up like a katak dibawah tem­pu­rung (an ig­no­rant per­son) – iso­lated and se­cluded in their en­vi­ron­ment.

Fur­ther­more, mul­ti­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion pro­vides chil­dren with ex­cit­ing and chal­leng­ing so­cial ex­pe­ri­ences. These ex­pe­ri­ences help them de­velop so­cial com­pe­tence, be­hav­iours and skills needed to live and in­ter­act suc­cess­fully in a di­verse so­ci­ety.

At preschool level, mul­ti­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion should be taught as a sub­ject. Oth­er­wise, it will lose its im­por­tance and ef­fec­tive­ness. Preschools should teach it for 30 min­utes a week and for 30 lessons a year.

When ca­ter­ing to cul­tural di­ver­sity through mul­ti­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion, early child­hood ed­u­ca­tors agree with Gandhi’s claim that “if we are to teach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to be­gin with the chil­dren”.

This ar­ti­cle was contributed by Mo­han Dal­lumal, se­nior lec­turer at Kolej Dika. Kolej Dika pro­vides train­ing to ed­u­ca­tors, care­givers and par­ents in spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion and early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion.

It of­fers the Di­ploma in Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion and the Di­ploma in Early Child­hood Ed­u­ca­tion, mod­u­lar pro­grammes, in-house teacher train­ing and par­ent­ing work­shops.

Visit the Ed­u­ca­tion & Fur­ther Stud­ies Fair – Se­ries 38 at Mid Val­ley Ex­i­bi­tion Cen­tre on Dec 7 and 8, Booths W7-W8, Hall 3.

For de­tails, call Tracy at 016-228 6223, 03-8070 6223, 03-8075 6223. Visit B-3-5 and B3A-5, IOI Boule­vard, Jalan Ke­nari 5, Ban­dar Pu­chong Jaya or log on to www. kole­

Kolej Dika stu­dents pur­su­ing the Ca­ter­ing for Di­ver­sity in Young Learn­ers mo­d­ule.

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