Education in multiethnic societies is a subject of considerable debates in almost all parts of the world. These debates have invoked strongly-felt positions between competing ethnic groups over a host of issues that have a profound impact on the nation building process.
Apart from deep-seated issues arising from contrasting internal demands over educational rights and equality, emerging issues arising from external influences such as the global spread of English as a result of globalisation have also impacted the nation building process of multiethnic societies.
It is against this context that educational issues in multiethnic societies merit our attention. In the case of Malaysia, discourses over these issues are particularly intense and hotly contested by the different ethnic groups.
This is primarily because of the extreme difficulties in mediating these complicated issues which are impinged by competing socio-cultural, economic and political interests.
This book explores the contested terrains of education in multiethnic Malaysia. It comprises seven chapters that cover three crucial areas of educational provisions and delivery, namely education of ethnic minorities, education and national integration, and educational language policy.
These three crucial areas are often the prime concerns of policy makers in multiethnic societies who have to tread a thin line in resolving these issues which are underpinned by intense coterminous interests and inter-ethnic competition, and having the potential to generate conflicts, contestation and power struggle.
As far as the Malaysian policy makers are concerned, their efforts in resolving these issues have not been overly successful. It is most unfortunate that their policy decisions are at times influenced by competing political and ethnic interests rather than guided by sound theoretical underpinnings that could put the educational development of the country on a stronger platform and a clearer trajectory.