Unity Amid Diversity: The Malaysian Multicultural Experience

Dr. Ramlee Mustapha
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Multiculturalism is not a new phenomenon in Malaysia. Being a cultural-rich and a pluralistic society, Malaysia has always been diverse culturally since her independence in 1957. In retrospect, the end of the cold war held forth a promise for emerging and progressive democracies around the world. This promise recognized the basic human right of people of all cultures, races and religions to live and prosper in harmony together. It promised a society where cultural differences are honored and not just tolerated; a society where the enduring ideals and ideas of humankind can thrive. In many ways, Malaysia upholds these aspirations. At the school level, the Malaysian government has introduced "Vision School" to enhance cross-cultural understanding and national unity among different races and diverse cultural backgrounds. The lack of cross-cultural understanding or sensitivity on the part of the teachers has serious implications because it affects classroom management and consequently students’ learning. An overall understanding of the significant role of cultural variables in cross-cultural interaction may act as a bridge to mutual understanding and acceptance in situations of cultural conflict. Cross-culture understanding, however, involves more than knowledge of how and why other people think and behave as they do. Understanding someone from another culture also involves adjusting one’s own world-view. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to present the reform initiatives in Malaysia in promoting intercultural understanding.

Keywords: Multiculturalism, Diversity, Vision Schools, Malaysia
Stream: Politics of Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Unity Amid Diversity

Dr. Ramlee Mustapha

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Dr. Ramlee Mustapha is a senior lecturer and chair of careers, technical and vocational education at the Faculty of Education, the National University of Malaysia. He is an expert in careers, technical and vocational education and training and human resource development especially in the Pacific Rim and East Asian region. His academic interests lie in careers, technical-vocational education, multicultural human resource development, gender and comparative studies. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses in technology education, curriculum development in technical and vocational education, vocational education for special needs students, cross cultural, cross national human resource development and workforce education.

Ref: D06P0015