Education and Politics in Malaysia
In a heterogeneous country like Malaysia, it is not surprising that education policy has often interacted with the politics of race, religion and language. The nature of these interactions, however, has evolved over time as policymakers, politicians and citizens dealt with the challenges of globalization, a growing economy and shifting demands of an increasingly complex employment market. This chapter distils the views of two politicians, one formerly from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) Coalition and the other from the opposition, in order to highlight the continued influence of race and religion in the politics of education but also the emergence of other contending forces of influence, including market-based pressures, especially at the higher education level. Through the various narratives and questions posed, a dynamic and evolving education policy landscape is revealed. The views of both politicians show the tensions and contestations between moving away from a race-based lens of education policy and maintaining a tight control of education policy that serves the larger political interests in the country.
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