Maszlee rejects having schools teach about religions

Education Minister Maszlee Malik fears more negative than positive effects from teaching about religions.

KLUANG: The education minister has rejected a proposal by the Malaysian Youth Council (MBM) for a special subject about religions be introduced in schools and universities.

The minister, Maszlee Malik, said he was being consistent with the ministry’s previous suggestion that every school and university should organise more cross-cultural programmes.

He said it was more appropriate for school children and students to share about each other’s culture rather than learning about other religions. The ministry feared that there would be more negative than positive effects from a subject on religion.

“Recently, when I was in Penang, I saw a national type Tamil school collaborating with a national religious secondary school. In Johor, we have the Hidayah Islamic School that is very active in organising activities with other vernacular schools.

“Hence, we encourage these different schools to organise such cross-cultural programmes.

“These are usually activities linked to celebrations and costumes. If possible, we should go further than that to understand each other’s cultures,” he said here today.

He also pointed out that the most important thing was for each student to appreciate interaction with each other through various co-curricular activities to strengthen unity, instead of studying other religions.

Yesterday, MBM president Jufitri Joha was reported to have said that the Islamic studies currently being taught in schools was good, but it only focused on one religion without providing an understanding of other religions.

He said his proposal did not mean that the country would practise religious equality, but learning about various religions would “foster unity and promote religious sensitivity for cultures different from our own”.