Archive for the ‘Multicultural Education’ Category

Promoting religious interaction

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

For two-and-a-half decades, Ikim has focused on creating inter-religious understanding and good relations among Malaysia’s multi-cultural society.

TODAY, we live in a world where plurality shapes the very essence of societies. Cultural, religious and also ethnic diversities call for us to learn more about each other and understand the sensitivities that exist within these various social groups.

In dealing with diversities, differences in views and practices are also considered a normalcy but must be managed carefully. The element of respect must be the leading principle in engaging with these differen­ces of opinion that exist in a multi-racial and multi-religious society. Islam stresses sincere and whole­hearted submission to God and not one which is a result of compulsion.

Therefore, we must accept the principles of diversity as acknow­ledged by Islam. The State of Medina during the time of the Prophet Muhammad is an excellent example of how Islam promotes peace, accepts diversity among mankind and upholds the importance of humanity.

Under the leadership of the Prophet in Medina, Islam grew as a respected religion because of its moderate and balanced approach towards all communities living in a society which included all faiths and cultures, living together in a single nation.

The rule of law was intact and duly observed. Local customary laws of all tribes and religions living in the society were also respected. Islam also guarantees protection of human rights, women’s rights, socio-cultural rights, religious freedom and rights of minorities living in the state.

Taking heed from the historical evidences of the Prophet’s leadership in Medina, it is therefore important to realise that Islam upholds values of mutual respect, sincerity and ‘Adl (justice) as the guiding principles practised by the Prophet to unify the various tribes and communities in Medina. Therefore, these qualities should be emulated especially by Muslim leaders in finding solutions to the problems that the world is currently facing today.

Thus, in the context of creating inter-religious understanding and good relations among the multi-cultural society in Malaysia, Ikim, together with its research partners from other agencies and academic institutions, has taken the initiative to carry out research on the approach called fiqh al-ta’amul which focuses on the manners of interaction among people of different religions and cultures. The aim of this research is to produce relevant guidelines that can help to enhance and empower relations among religious adherents in Malaysia.

Al-Ta’amul literally refers to interactions promoting the principles of compassion, peace, justice and the belief in God Almighty as the foundation for dealing with differences and diversities among mankind.

These principles reject injustices, inhumane treatments of others and conflicts which occur as a result of the inability to accept differences in opinions and also the failure to establish peaceful co-existence within society. The concept of al-ta’amul is also able to eradicate and curb elements of extremism and fundamentalism among religious followers who often use religion as an excuse for their violence and actions of terror against others.

As an institution of thought based on research, Ikim continuously strives to provide the right understanding of Islam to the masses. This includes organising national and international programmes on topics and issues relating to Islam that are pertinent and relevant to all segments of society. Ikim employs this as an avenue to educate and inform the general public on the Islamic approach and understanding with regard to issues that are of grave concern to humanity and world civi­lisations.

In this context, Ikim carries out numerous research activities and publications on Islam that can serve as a source of information and knowledge for the public which are the result of input from the religious and professional spheres. The researchers in Ikim are engaged in numerous research projects and writings which highlight the universal values and principles of Islam, including principles regarding engagements with people of different faiths that are all-encompassing and relevant to mankind.

As Ikim celebrates its silver jubilee this year, Ikim is still committed to do what it does best – that is, to disseminate true knowledge and understanding of Islam by engaging directly with the relevant stakeholders in areas that include the socio-cultural, economic, political, legal, the environment, science and technology as well as harmonious relations between people of different religious groups.

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Fostering a society focused on sustainability

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Islam supports the preservation and conservation of the environment for the benefit of creation as a whole.

OUR environment continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. In Malaysia, frequent episodes of landslides, flash floods, water shortages and haze are indications of the failing interaction between humans and their environment.

It also indicates our present society’s unsustainable lifestyle.

Stephen Viederman, in his article entitled A Sustainable Society: What is it? How do we get there? offers a simple definition of a sustainable society, which is “a society that ensures the health and vitality of human life and culture, and of nature’s capital, for present and future generation.”

A sustainable society consists of individuals who are willing to put an end to activities that destroy not only the natural world but also human communities.

In other words, they are willing to make appropriate changes in their lifestyles in the support of conservation and restoration, as well as the prevention of any harmful behaviour in the environment.

In order to restructure a society to live sustainably, we must begin by changing the minds within it.

We must educate society to seriously consider its role in this world and how it is related to other creatures on earth.

Efforts in fostering a sustainability-minded society must be shared by everyone including the Govern­ment, educators, business communities, religious scholars, scientists and researchers.

Each one of them will utilise different tools in order to transform society. In this regard, the cooperation of all parties is critical to ensure success.

There are also two important elements which must be understood in order to develop a sustainability-minded society. The two elements are “urgency and action.”

“Urgency” refers to the urgent need of society to acknowledge that the world or the environment we live in today is under intense pressure, mainly from various human activities.

There is also an urgency to implement appropriate efforts to reduce human impact on the natural world.

Understanding this “urgency” will lead to a commitment to take the right action in creating healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

These actions do not necessarily mean an extravagant or gigantic project, but also refer to consistent small-scale measures that eventually have huge social consequences.

Even small religious communities have a role in promoting sustainable living.

Religious communities in Malaysia should consider appropriate sustainability-based programmes in their houses of worship.

For Muslims, the idea of sustainability is in fact parallel to the teachings of Islamic doctrine.

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Malaysians in Sabah must strive to remain united – FCAS president

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The people of Sabah, the Chinese community included, must strive to remain united and muster enough confidence, in order to overcome whatever difficulties and challenges there are, in the Year of the Golden Rooster.

Expressing this was Datuk Seri Panglima TC Goh, president of the Sabah Federation of Chinese Associations (FCAS), in his message issued in conjunction with the Lunar New Year.

“Although with the rebound of crude oil and palm oil prices last year, there was a slight relief for us amidst the tough economic situation, we must nonetheless be wary of the potential challenges ahead that are being presented by various complex issues around the world at the moment, which could be interrelated. For instance, even such a strong-and-powerful nation like the United States of America is now facing uncertainties brought upon by its people’s strong desire for change.

“Hence, we Malaysians in Sabah must strive to remain united and muster enough confidence to overcome the imminent challenges ahead of us, in the Year of the Golden Rooster,” he stressed.

While noting that the State’s economy for last year has been sluggish, he nonetheless acknowledged that undeniably there had been remarkable improvement to the State’s infrastructure development such as the visible progress in the Pan Borneo Highways project, construction of flyovers in Kota Kinabalu City, and infrastructure developments in various suburban towns in the State.

“Frankly speaking, Sabah is still booming with plenty of business opportunities. It is hoped that the people of Sabah could continue to be on mettle and be proactive in exploring the many untapped potential and opportunities that the State has to offer,” said Goh.

The vice president of the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong) went on to note that the government is currently closely monitoring the global economic situation, especially amidst speculation of looming global financial crisis and a sluggish global economy.

“However, we must strive to remain calm in facing the ebb and flow of global economy; we must continue to move in the right direction towards a better and a more prosperous future,” he stressed.

Goh also hoped that while ushering in the Lunar New Year, the Chinese community could take time out to reevaluate their position and their focus in accordance with the current situation.

He stressed that this was necessary, so that they could make full use of the available resources to improve their standard of living, besides continuing to safeguard and promote the 5,000-year-old Chinese culture and traditions in Malaysia, Sabah in particular.

He cited that FCAS’ continuous organising of the annual Chinese New Year Carnival and the successful lobbying for the use of Chinese language road signs in the city, recently, was a good example of the noble act of safeguarding and promoting the Chinese culture.

“That was not just a historical moment for the Chinese community of Sabah, but also a warm gesture in welcoming the tourists from China to visit Sabah,” proclaimed Goh.

Meanwhile, on behalf of the Chinese community of Sabah, Goh thanked the Chinese Consul General in Sabah, Chen Peijie, for the allocation of RMB50,000 to FCAS, in support of the 2017 Chinese New Year Carnival.

“We in FCAS, and the Chinese community of Sabah as a whole, are indeed very grateful to the Government of the Republic of China for such a kind and generous gesture, especially in time of need. We shall always cherish our close ties with the government and the people of China,” he pledged.

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Call for mutual respect and tolerance

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

SEREMBAN: The people should always uphold mutual respect and tolerance and should never let religion and “skin colour” dictate how they interacted, says the Yang Dipertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan. Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir also called for the values of living in a multi-cultural society to be nurtured at all times.

“Maintaining cordial relations and having mutual respect for each other, and cultivating a noble culture are very important elements in a society of different races and religions.

“All citizens should embody the concept of unity which isn’t confined by religion and skin colour but through good relations, sincerity and tolerance,” he decreed on the occasion of his 69th birthday celebrations at Istana Besar Seri Menanti in Kuala Pilah on Thursday,

He said it was the people’s responsibility to nurture a caring and respectful living environment in the country.

Tuanku Muhriz said differences of opinion on certain issues were normal, but said healthy discourse was the way forward.

“Certainly beyond our differences, there is room for discussion that will lead to tolerance in resolving issues rationally and wisely,” he said.

Tuanku Muhriz also reminded the people to be “smart” when weighing the integrity of information that could spread very quickly and easily on print and electronic mediums in this day and age.

Access to news and information had become so widespread that it was crucial for the people to be able to judge between truth and falsehood, and between fact and opinion, he said.

“Society should rightly censor, study and deepen their knowledge to ensure the validity of information, as the English saying goes, ‘to separate the wheat from the chaff’.

“The integrity of information should also be evaluated in depth so that an intelligent society can spot the motives of certain news which may lean towards fulfilling the interests of certain parties.”

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Multiracial community brightens up Christmas open house

Friday, January 6th, 2017

BELURAN: The Beluran district level Christmas open house held Tuesday clearly reflected a harmonious multiracial community living in the area as people from different religious and racial backgrounds attended the event held at the Beluran Multipurpose Hall.

Beluran MP Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee was on hand to welcome the people including community leaders. Among those present were Beluran District Officer Suhaili Riman, Wanita UMNO chief Endang Datu Asibi and UMNO Youth chief Samad Jambri.

This was the second Christmas open house hosted by the Beluran parliament office. The first one was held in the Telupid district.

Choirs from the Anglican, Catholic, SIB, SDA and the Christian Fellowship Churches performed at the function. There were also two solo performances by Gretchene Salipa Siringan and Felicia Florence Jame.

In his speech, Ronald said it was important to strengthen unity among the multiracial community in the district. He said that unity and solidarity were the main contributing factors to political stability and socio-economic development of a country.


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Over 90 Per Cent Of Respondents Have Positive Perception Of Other Religions – Study

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

SERDANG, Aug 10 (Bernama) – Over 90 percent of respondents in a study on Issues and Challenges of Ties Between Religious Adherents in 2013-2014 have positive perception of other religions.

Dean of Faculty of Human Ecology, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Prof Dr Zaid Ibrahim said the study of 1,500 respondents nationwide proved they had knowledge of other religions.

However, he said good knowledge and positive perception of other religions do not necessarily guarantee a strong and lasting ties between religions as long as they continue to be manipulated by certain parties.

“Those involved in raising the temperature include interested groups such as political leaders who will champion issues such as the custody of children,” he told Bernama after presenting the study results at UPM, here, today.

The study, a collaboration between the Institute of Islamic Understanding, UPM and the National Unity and Integration Department (JPNIN) was tabled at a seminar titled “Government and Civilisation : Managing Political and Religious Differences”, at UPM, starting today.

Among the issues to be addressed are Malaysia as an Islamic state, hudud law, use of the word ‘Allah’, the spread of other religions, conversions, child custody, claims of remains, religious insults and worship places.

Prof Zaid said the study also found that the level of prejudice which can affect ties between adherents of different religions was relatively low.

Meanwhile, JPNIN director-general L. Gandesan hopes that all parties can understand and tolerate other races and religions to maintain the racial and religious harmony.


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Diversity begins at school

Friday, April 10th, 2015

When children spend most of their waking hours only around those who are similar to them, they tend to believe that this environment represents the world.

OCCASIONALLY I get nostalgic about my school days and how different things were then. When I was growing up in a small town, my parents sent me to the local mission school because it was known for its high academic standards. The school was run by Catholic nuns and not many Muslim girls went there because some parents were concerned that their daughters might be “influenced”.

They were partially right, though not in the way they expected. As far as I know, all the Malay girls who went to the convent school remained devout Muslims. But we did absorb enough of Christianity to not fear it.

To this day I know the Lord’s Prayer but I don’t find it superior to the Alfatihah, just different. When I did my A-levels in History and studied the Reformation, I already knew enough about Christian history to know what they were reforming from. Most of all, the nuns drilled in us a strict discipline in behaviour, according to our motto, “Simple in virtue, steadfast in duty.”

I then continued my secondary education in an all-girls boarding school. The school was an elite one, all of its students creamed off from various schools around the country through an entrance exam.

Superficially all the students were racially homogenous. In reality, I had never come across so much diversity despite having come from a more heterogenous school in my hometown.

In my old school, everyone spoke the same way and knew the same things in our limited small-town experience. But at boarding school I came across girls who not only came from very different circumstances than I but also spoke with accents so different that sometimes I could not understand them.

There were all sorts of characters, from the natural leaders to the shy ones to the sporty and the musically talented. They were all academically smart or they would not have been there.

But what was new to me was to meet girls who were super-smart, with multiple distinctions in a time when 7As really meant something. I was also used to a certain sort of face, darker perhaps with traces of the subcontinent. But at boarding school I met some real beauties and a vast array of faces denoting ancestral origins from continents far different from mine.

It was there that I learnt that while we may be outwardly the same because of race and religion, in fact each individual had a different story to tell. My history was similar but also dissimilar from all the other girls’.

The school gave us many opportunities to bond with one another despite our different stories, through healthy competition in academics, sports, music and theatre and many of us stayed connected over the years through alumni get-togethers. Whatever our origins became immaterial.

One thing I recall, that is worth remarking on because it is rare these days, is how mixed our teachers were. The whole spectrum of peninsular Malaysia was represented in our teachers.

There was a Mr Tan who taught us Physics, Miss Aru who taught us English, Cik Khairiah who taught us Bahasa Malaysia and Mr Yan for Mathematics. What was more, there were also foreign teachers who were placed in the school.


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Be fair and just in any conflict

Monday, June 16th, 2014

THERE is no denying that we are struggling to resolve many issues with regard to race and religion, with no definitive solution in sight.

Even a verdict from the courts, which are supposedly the final arbiters of what is right or wrong, no longer carries the weight of finality. Everything can be disputed because the jurisdictional issues between two parallel court systems – the civil and the syariah – have become more pronounced of late.

We have to concede that on matters of faith, a judicial solution, even if premised on the supreme laws of the land is not always an outcome that will please all sides. There is today an increasingly vocal court of public opinion, which allows free and open discussion on even the most sensitive of issues. The politicians in office, who are supposed to represent the voice of the people, have to tread gingerly at different levels.

Throw in the other politicians and a hodge-podge of different individuals and interest groups, and what you have is a pot that continues to simmer each time an issue regarding race or religion crops up.

Each time the flames start to die down, something else will come along to fan the embers. It is a testimony to our collective resolve as a people who love this beloved land of ours that peace and harmony has stayed the course.

Be that as it may, not every issue is as ambivalent as it is made out to be.

There are those issues where the solutions have already been chiselled into our national foundations. That the police have to execute an order from the court, any court, is the very basis of how different arms of the government work together as one.

The current issue as to whether the police have done their part to execute two court orders – one from the High Court in Ipoh and another from the Court of Appeal – on the custody of children involving two parties of different faiths is a case in point.

While we may sympathise with the Inspector-General of Police that “the police are caught in the middle” in having to deal with two conflicting orders from the civil and syariah courts, we cannot agree with his argument that the dilemma in itself frees the police from carrying out explicit instructions from the civil courts.

As the Ipoh High Court judge stated in his judgment, “the police with the resources of the State behind them, might well be able to find the husband and with that the child as well. A specific order of this nature would clarify for the police that it is not for them to fold their arms in quiet desperation, powerless to spring into action, on the ground that there is a Syariah High Court custody order that allows the husband to have custody of the youngest child.”

The Star Says.

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Millennial Students Aren’t All the Same

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

“A disservice is done to any student cohort when they are globally defined by a single set of character traits. Within any generation, there is diversity and in the Millennial Generation, there is considerable diversity in background, personality and learning style.” (p. 223) So concludes a lengthy and detailed article that seeks, among other goals, to “demystify” the characteristics commonly attributed to students belonging to this generation. “Analysis of research data suggests that these students may not be as different from other generations in the fundamental process of learning as is regularly proposed.” (p. 215) These authors believe that’s important because “it is crucial to accurately assess which specific ‘stable characteristics’ truly impact the learning process and should be targeted for consideration in instructional design.” (p. 215)

They are critical of much of the evidence being used to support both positive and negative characteristics associated with Millennial learners. “Over the last decade, as the literature on the Millennial student has proliferated, it has proven that opinions beget opinions. A scrutiny of the references of a majority of publications and presentations indicates that the ideas being espoused are fundamentally opinions based on observation and perception as well as on student personal satisfaction and preference surveys rather than on evidence-based research methodologies.” (pp. 215-216) They point out that many of the surveys documenting a set of Millennial student characteristics have been done at one or two institutions with populations not always representative of the larger student population. The Millennial cohort includes students from various races, religions, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Among the Millennial student characteristics challenged by these authors is their need for the digital delivery of content. The authors cite multiple studies documenting “that a spectrum for both the desire and ability to use digital learning tools exists.” (p. 216) Based on their review of this literature, they conclude, “More careful evaluation of the purpose of technology in learning with regard to actual student needs, desires, and professional applications should be undertaken before additional time, money and resources are invested in more extensive technologies.” (p. 216).

by .

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Each Academic Program Has a Part in Teaching Diversity

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

As the student body becomes increasingly diverse, it’s important to have faculty incorporate multicultural design into their courses regardless of discipline. Although it may not seem that all disciplines lend themselves to including multiculturalism as a learning goal, consider how Christine Stanley and Mathew Ouellett frame the issue.

“We approach it from four conceptual areas, which are all inextricably linked— content, teaching methods, who we are as instructors, and who the students are,” says Stanley, vice president and associate provost for diversity and professor of higher education administration at Texas A&M University. “A lot of faculty members, particularly those who identify as white, don’t see how identity connects with their disciplines and how they teach and what they teach.

“For example, a lot of faculty in the sciences and engineering probably think that their content doesn’t lend itself very well to talking about these issues, but it does. In the real world, engineers rarely solve problems alone. They work with others to solve problems. To me, working with others is a diversity issue.”


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