Education minister cans ‘interfaith understanding’ subject for public schools

Mahdzir said that students in public schools are already learning about the country’s diverse religions through a variety of subjects. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Mahdzir said that students in public schools are already learning about the country’s diverse religions through a variety of subjects. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 9 — The Education Ministry does not need to introduce a new subject specifically to promote “interfaith understanding”, its minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said today.

He added that students in public schools are already learning about the country’s diverse religions through a variety of subjects, in response to calls from another government that proposed the idea in a bid to improve interfaith ties amid reports of fraying ties in recent years.

“I think we have enough [of it being taught in schools], with the teaching of the Rukun Negara, civics classes, Moral, and Islamic studies for Muslims,” he told reporters after launching the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 Annual Report 2015 here.

The Cabinet’s Committee to Promote Interfaith Understanding and Harmony chairman Datuk Azman Amin Hassan told a forum last Sunday that there was a need for the creation of an “interfaith understanding” subject in schools, national news agency Bernama reported.

Azman, whose committee was formed under the Department of National Unity and Integration, said that the department will be suggesting it in a meeting with the Education Ministry.

This comes after slides by an Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies lecturer from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) portraying the Hindus as “dirty” were leaked online last June. UTM has since terminated the unnamed lecturer’s contract.

Before that, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Malacca last December reportedly hosted a Muslim-only seminar claiming of a threat of proselytisation from Christians.