The third item of the blueprint clearly indicates that its objective is to create citizens with excellent characters and to enhance the Islamic teachings, moral education and universal values.
It is also stated in the last sentence of the third item that the Ministry of Education may study the possibility of having Muslim and non-Muslim students to attend the Islamic classes and Moral Education classes, respectively, simulataneously.
It is enshrined in the constitution that every citizen enjoys the right of freedom in belief and bestows the right to carry out the obligation of religious duties. The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) is standing firm on the ground that non-Muslim students have the right to choose the religious education of their liking. It is necessary for the Ministry of Education to consider the teaching of non-Islamic education in primary and secondary schools while making its consideration.
It has been a practice that non-Muslim students will attend the moral education class when Muslim students attending their religious class. It is unlikely that the general teaching of moral knowledge will enlighten the students in purifying their mind, speech and physical action like the religious education.
YBAM would like to call upon the Ministry of Education to include non-Islamic education into the mainstream of education so that the non-Muslim students will have an option of having religious class besides the moral education class.
The YBAM attended the seminar on preliminary report on the blueprint on October 6 and forwarded the following four written appeals to the Deputy Minister of Education Wee Ka Siong:
1. To urge the government to implement non-Islamic education classes in primary and secondary schools because religious education is more effective in inculcating the development of right mindset of children and youths and to cultivate good characters.
2. To urge the officials in the Education Department including school principles to take importance on the ‘2011 Education Service Circular’ issued in 2011 by the director-general of the Education Ministry where non-Islamic religious society is one of the formal school activities and it’s necessary for the school principles to encourage and approve the setting up of such society as long as it meets the conditions and to include it as one of the extra mural activities of the school.
3. To urge the Education Ministry to enhance the description of the history of respective religions in the history subject in secondary schools and have a more detail description on the teachings of respective religions.
4. To urge the Education Ministry to encourage students in secondary schools to take part in community service organised by charity bodies, religious bodies and non-profit making bodies and to include it in one of the curriculums of the school.
In a multi-cultural country, all citizens are allowed to secure what they needs provided that they do not sabotage the law and order of the society; a democratic society is also built on the basis of respecting the majority and people of all races are free to choose their own language and belief.
The policy of single language and single religion is not the right direction of development for national education. Promoting and understanding the language, culture and religion of respective races will be the basis for national development and social harmony.
YBAM calls upon all religious organisations in the country to view seriously the preliminary report of the National Education Blueprint 2013 -2025 and to enhance the response on this report from the religious community.
Lee Chung Yen Is executive secretary of the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia