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