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Promoting democracy awareness among our youths

  • While the education ministry can open the door for democracy and rights awareness to gain access into our schools, political ideologies of parties must be strictly kept out.

Sin Chew Daily

Deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching has said her ministry is looking into revising the Form IV and Form V curriculum to incorporate content on the country's democracy, election system and citizens' rights.

This measure goes well with the latest development of lowering the voting age to 18, and is believed to help promote democracy awareness among Malaysia's young people.

Dewan Rakyat adopted the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 last week with 211 support votes to lower the voting age and eligible age of electoral candidates from 21 to 18, as well as to implement the automatic voter registration system.

Following the downward adjustment to the voting age, it is absolutely necessary for our young people to learn more about democracy, citizens' rights, and the country's election system, among others, as early as possible, so that they can vote wisely in an election.

Incorporating content on democracy, citizens' rights, etc. in higher secondary curriculum is indeed a solution that warrants the ministry's serious consideration.

That said, there are differing voices among the public, some feeling that teaching political knowledge and concept in classroom may cause the students to become misguided or influenced.

However, if youngsters at the age of 18 are given the right to vote in an election, wouldn't they be more easily misled if they have not been given access to such knowledge and have very little idea about democracy and their own rights?

Undeniably, many young people in Malaysia lack the knowledge and concept of democracy as well as the country's election system. As a result, they have been unable to effectively exercise their right to vote.

Through school education, these people will be able to learn more about democracy and election system, and this is bound to help them exercise their citizens' rights more effectively.

Only with full coordination from schools, the lowering of voting age to 18 will be able to obtain the desired effects in elevating the democratic culture in our society and consolidating the country's democratic system.

Young Malaysians are not the dumb lot. They too will be able to play a more positive role in the country's democratic system and help propel its healthy development, if we provide the right channels for them to learn about their democratic rights as well as the modus operandi of the country's election system.

In the meantime, we need to emphasize that even if the education ministry eventually decides to incorporate such content into the higher secondary curriculum, that does not mean political parties can gain free access into our school campuses.

Education minister Maszlee Malik has made it very clear that even though Dewan Rakyat has adopted the amendment bill to lower the voting age to 18, the government will not allow politics to infiltrate into the classroom, as the school classroom is a place to provide education and not for politics.

While students should be instilled with the information on democracy and election system, it is an altogether different matter to allow political parties to promote their ideologies in schools in an attempt to sway the students' political inclination.

The school remains a place to impart knowledge to students, not a battleground for political tussles.

In other words, while the education ministry can open the door for democracy and rights awareness to get into our schools, political ideologies of parties must be strictly kept out.

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