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Open University Malaysia

The University in collaboration with the Fulbright Alumni Association of Malaysia (FAAM) and Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) recently organised a colloquium on intercultural awareness to enhance inter-ethnic, cultural and religious tolerance in Malaysia.

A diverse group comprising Fulbright scholars, university lecturers, teachers, researchers and members of non-governmental organisations came together to discuss and share their experiences and insights into multiculturalism besides looking into issues that could foster greater understanding and harmony among various races.

YBhg Datuk Prof Mohd Yusof Kasim, Deputy Director General of Higher Education Department, Ministry of Higher Education, who officiated the opening, said intercultural awareness should be inculcated from young to promote understanding and avoid conflicts among people of different ethnic groups.

YBhg Tan Sri Ani Arope, the first recipient of the Malaysian Fulbright Scholarship, in his keynote address, said racial polarisation in schools and institutions of higher learning was more obvious now than before. This has created an elitist racial group who believed that they were more superior than others.

He said in a multicultural society like Malaysia where one’s religion and culture are protected by the Constitution, there should not be race prejudice and religious bigotry. “We recognise that social conflicts are inevitable in our society. It is important that we work out strategies to minimise or divert the effects.”

He added that the country’s cultural diversity should be regarded an asset. “It has intrinsic value for development as well as social cohesion and peace. Harnessing our diversity could be the driving force for development, not only in terms of economic growth but also, towards a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life.”

FAAM President Dr Suseela Malakolunthu, in her closing remarks, outlined the recommendations of the colloquium that should be given due consideration by the authorities. It recommended that multicultural components be included in primary, secondary and higher education curricula to inculcate the idea of multiculturalism in the minds of students.

The colloquium also proposed that the Study Abroad Programme be introduced by the Ministry of Higher Education to expose university students to the cultural diversity of people from other countries. 

Last Updated on 01-02-2015