PUTRAJAYA, July 18 — Taking a leaf from Australia, Election Commission (EC) chairman Azhar Azizan Harun today suggested voter education as part of the school curriculum.
Voter education in Australia starts as early as Year Three, the equivalent of Standard Three in Malaysia, he noted.
“Over there, they start learning by the age of nine. I am thinking of putting in the proposal to the Education Ministry,” Azhar said during the ‘Make a Change, Let’s Do It Together Forum’ at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here.
Azhar said that if the government agrees to his idea, the lessons should be more comprehensive than what is currently taught about voting under Civics and Citizenship Education subjects in schools.
“We also need to start as early as possible, and we will prepare to do so once we have dealt with both sides in a bipartisan manner.
“The main thing is to avoid being seen as politically indoctrinating the students. The module has to be neutral to everyone,” Azhar said.
The forum, organised by the EC, is part of its outreach efforts to educate both existing voters and potential ones.
He said in the past few years, the Election Academy has played a major role in voter education.
“To date, we have gone down to schools and given ceramah to over 45,000 students.
“We also have the Associated Trainer programme, which trains graduates who can go on to educate the students about voting,” Azhar said, adding it is an ongoing process that will be intensified depending on workforce availability and budget.
At the same time, he stressed that voter education should not be solely left to the EC to handle on its own.
“It is not just for us to educate people on voting. Political parties, NGOs and even the media, all play an important role in this,” Azhar said.