Multiculturalism in Malaysian Higher Education: Idealism, Challenges and Opportunities

Samsudin Suhaili


Malaysias unique cultural kaleidoscope is the result of many centuries of contact and influence of many and varied civilisations, which have gone into making each ethnic group especially distinct, yet interactive. The 1957 independence is indeed a vital proclamation for Malaysia as the pluralism and multiculturalism are accepted and recognised wholly and officially. Multiculturalism and education are inextricably intertwined, especially at the tertiary level. At this crucial juncture, the understanding and awareness of multiculturalism are prioritised to maintain the stability of higher education. In this paper, we will discuss the idea of multiculturalism in Malaysia by focusing on the development of higher education in illustrating the opportunities provided by higher education. Nonetheless, no matter how many initiatives or efforts have been put forward to tackle the issue of multiculturalism in the Malaysian context, even in any plural countries in this world, there has been considerable debate about the dimness of multiculturalism and its importance in higher education. This paper will highlight the various efforts and initiative approaches which have been implemented in recent years by the Ministry of Education to embrace multiculturalism at higher learning institutes. Specific challenges on the students side have been given particular attention to addressing the multicultural issues in higher education.


Multiculturalism; diversity; higher education; opportunities; Ministry of Education Malaysia

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