‘High time to teach other religions in schools’

‘High time to teach other religions in schools’

PUCHONG: Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) today backed calls by the Malaysian Youth Council (MBM) for other religions apart from Islam to be taught in schools.

MCCBCHST president Datuk RS Mogan Shan said that with the deep racial and religious polarisation sweeping across the country, it is high time Malaysians understand different religions better.

“All must understand different religions better to create harmony in the country. Right now, too many unexpected things are happening and this is the right time to build a better Malaysia,” he said.

On Saturday, MBM president Jufitri Joha was reported as saying that the Islamic studies subject currently being taught in schools was good, but it only focused on one religion.

He added that idea to learn about other religions did not mean that the country would practice religious equality, but learning about various religions would ‘foster unity and promote religious sensitivity for different cultures.

Education Minister Maszlee Malik shot down the idea saying the ministry preferred schools and universities to organise more cross-cultural programmes, as it was more appropriate than learning other religions since it could bring about more detrimental effects rather than positive ones.

Maszlee’s decision was backed by the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim).

“Any new policy which involves the interests of the Islamic community, including in the education sector, ought to be studied in depth so that it will not have a negative impact upon the Muslims in this country in particular, and other communities in general,” said Jakim director-general Datuk Mohamad Nordin Ibrahim.

Mogan Shan, however, dismissed Maszlee and Jakim’s views saying everybody has the right to learn about other religions to foster better understanding among people of different beliefs.

He also said that the issue was not about trying to convert one to another religion.

“I have no idea why they rejected MBM’s idea. Malaysia is a multi-faith country and it is best for everyone to understand each other’s beliefs,” he said.

Mogan Shan added that it was best to teach religion at the primary school level and cross-cultural programmes are not sufficient to foster better ties among plural Malaysia.

“If people understand each other’s religion better, there will be less cases of anyone insulting another religion,” he said.

By G Vinod