Here’s how to help your little Malaysian learn more about people of different cultures, colors and creeds

GEORGETOWN, May 5 — Reading books about diversity and unity may be good for creating initial awareness in children, but to keep up with the pace of today’s young generations, a multifaceted A learning approach would be better.

Recently, Minister of Communications Fahmi Fazil said that in order to raise a knowledgeable generation and foster a spirit of unity, children need to be exposed to a reading culture, especially books about the country’s racial and religious diversity. He said there is.

Paul O, general manager of Penang Harmony Corporation (Harmonico), a national organization established to bridge understanding between religions, says relying on books alone cannot effectively educate children about unity and diversity. He said there was not enough to do so.

“An engaging hands-on program is essential to maximize effectiveness. Books provide the initial awareness, but experiential learning allows children to truly understand the beauty of Malaysia’s diversity.” ,” he said in an interview. malay mail.

He added that if used correctly, social media can also be a powerful tool to address the short attention spans of younger generations.

Azmi Hussin working on ‘Saga Kami’. — Photo by Sayuti Zainudin

His views are echoed by manga artist and author Azmi Hussin, who wrote and illustrated the book. little mamak He introduced the Indian Muslim traditions based on his childhood.

“We have to follow the times. Young people are more interested in social media, so we might use that medium to reach them,” he said.

He said that because there is currently a lack of reading culture, something must be done to foster children’s reading and show that reading is cool.

“If you want to teach about diversity and unity, you need other methods than books. If you remember, Tan Sri P. “Maybe I should encourage people to see more of his films because they contain messages like,” he said.

Three years ago, Azmi Hussin drew a record-breaking 150-meter-long manga titled “Saga Kami.” This manga depicts the story of the different cultures, customs, and practices of three different Malaysian families developed around the Proton Saga Car. — Photo by Sayuti Zainudin

Azumi broke the record three years ago with the 150 meter long manga “ Sagajo The work tells the story of the different cultures, customs and practices of three different Malaysian families that developed around the Proton Saga car.

“This would be a great book to promote diversity and unity, but we are still in talks with sponsors to publish it as a book,” he said.

Clarity Publishing founder Rosalind Chua said all the books by Malaysian cartoonist Datuk Mohamad Nor Mohamad Khalid (also known as Rat) show Malaysian unity at its best. — Photo provided by Choo Choy May

Where and what to start reading

Rosalind Chua, founder of Clarity Publishing, said developing reading habits must start from a young age in school.

“School textbooks and reading materials need to be more interesting to young people than just about passing exams,” she says.

Regarding teaching children about diversity and unity, she said it was not as simple as buying diversity-related books for children, otherwise the problem would have been resolved by now.

“I don’t know if books have any influence on Malaysian students these days, but most of them probably prefer to look at their mobile phones,” she added.

He said politicians must also consistently work to eradicate racism rather than encourage it, while the media must stop giving racists a platform to air their views. .

But here are the books she recommends kids read to learn more about diversity. Mengapa Kita Taku Bole Berlebian (Why can’t we take more?) Dendangan Hep, Lye Tuck Po, PeyCanKay, Fatima’s Kampung Written by Ian Buchanan, little mamak Azumi and the weight of our sky Written by Hannah Alcuff.

Hanna Alkaff, author of The Weight of Our Sky, photographed in Kuala Lumpur on February 15, 2019 — Photo: Choo Choy May

She said all the books by Malaysian cartoonist Datuk Mohamad Nor Mohamad Khalid (also known as Rat) show Malaysian unity at its best.

Harmonica’s Oh said the way forward is to organize more immersive programs where young people can participate and be exposed to diversity through first-hand experience.

“We referred to an activity book titled “. Our Malaysia: A multicultural activity book for young Malaysians Some activities in our outreach program are undertaken to foster understanding of our diverse cultures, so while books are still helpful, they are not the only source of learning.” He said.

Some of the programs organized by Harmonico include the Batu Ferringhi Community Library Outreach Program, the Bangsa Malaysia Program held in collaboration with Pusat KOMAS, and Jerajah where school students can learn about different cultures through visits to different places of worship. These include Halmoni Seberang Jaya. .

“Rather than focusing on reading, hands-on activities, experiential tours and even social media can also play an important role,” he says.

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