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Ethnic arithmetic and the challenges of nation building : a study of Malaysian education policy for national integration, 1970 to present

Jamil, Hazri bin (2008) Ethnic arithmetic and the challenges of nation building : a study of Malaysian education policy for national integration, 1970 to present. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This study investigates education policy since 1970 in Malaysia aimed at achieving national integration across ethnic groups. The approach adopted is critical policy sociology; the study thus utilised historical analysis and semi-structured interviews with 'policy players' across the three main ethnic groups in Malaysia. The analyses are framed by theoretical considerations of ethnicity, nation, nation-building and plural society and the role of education policy in relation to them. The historical analyses demonstrated the ongoing effects of colonial residues in contemporary education policy and the ongoing ethnic-based contestation around the policy and accommodative state strategies utilised. The interview analyses demonstrated the contested nature of the concept of integration, tensions in the application of a bumiputera/non-bumiputera binary in policy, Malay concerns over their rights and economic opportunities, and Chinese and Indian concerns for language and cultural maintenance. The articulated Malay position was one tending towards assimilation and demanding recognition of their status as 'sons of the soil', while the Chinese and Indian stances tended towards multiculturalism. Language of instruction in schooling was shown to be central to these contested ideologies. These ethnic groups also worked with different constructions of the nation. The analyses demonstrated how in Appadurai's (1996) terms the nation (ethnic cultures and languages) and the state (politics and policy) have remained the project of each other in Malaysian education policy aimed at national integration. The analyses also showed how changing global contexts have challenged ethnic politics through the demand for better education for all, irrespective of ethnicity, socio-economic background and urban-rural location. English and Mandarin have taken on different policy salience in education in this global context. Human rights discourses have also to some extent reframed ethnic politics, as has recognition that socio-economic status might be a better focus for education policy for national integration. The research showed that concern for national integration has retained meta-policy status within Malaysian education.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.486721
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 24 May 2013 10:37
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:52
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3628

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