KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 — Civics education, which has been reintroduced in all schools across Malaysia since June, has become the talk of the town, in terms of its effectiveness and implementation.
In August, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched the national-level Civics Education 2019 initiative, aimed at creating a society and individuals who are responsible, caring and considerate of others.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, in turn, had explained that civics education in school is aimed at teaching children to know their rights, responsibilities and moral values so that as citizens, they can contribute to the well-being of society, the nation and the world.
According to the Education Ministry’s principal assistant director (co-curricular and arts division), Mohd Rashid Mean, the application of civics values is not limited to the classroom but also covers practices at home and other places, which is why the imparting of such values is not the responsibility of one institution alone, but also the responsibility of all related quarters.
In line with this, parents and communities play an important role in ensuring children embrace those values at school – such guidance from parents and communities also serve to assist teachers when they impart civics education to students, he said.
“For instance, when we drive and encounter other motorists driving recklessly, look at the words we utter.
“We are watched by our children, and they will follow suit. That’s why parents need to be good examples to their children,” he said in an interview with Bernama Radio recently on the topic of civics education.
According to Mohd Rashid, civics education in schools mainly focuses on current issues including road safety, saying no to corruption, the dangers of bullying and environmental pollution. These topics will be updated every year based on current needs.
Civics is taught for one hour every fourth week of the month in schools, during the Bahasa Melayu, English, Islamic Studies, Moral and History subject periods, while children in preschools are taught for 30 minutes.
In addition, nationhood and social-emotional aspects of citizenship and actions are embedded in school assemblies, co-curricular activities and other school programmes.
Noriah Harun, deputy director of Islamic education at the ministry and who was present at the same interview, believes that a multiracial school needs to have one central point of unity which can bring students closer together, and this can be found in civics education.
She added that communities should play an important role in imparting good values to children through civic practices, as not all children come from strong family institutions.