Posted: 25 Dec 2010 10:03 AM PST
A history textbook should contain a fair and accurate account of events as they actually happened in the past. It ought to be written objectively. This is the least to be exected when the book in question is a major textbook prescribed by our Education Ministry for our students nationwide, especially so that the subject is going to be a compulsary subject for all students sitting for their SPM.
I am shocked at what the syllabus writers have managed to quietly incorporate into our school syllabus just a few years ago, unnoticed by most people, even parents of affected students.
This is not a typical history textbook as we expect history textbook to be. Simply because the syllabus writers have not confined its content to history. Instead they have extended its boundaries seemingly to push a certain agenda. One point to note, all 4 writers of the textbook comes from only one race and religion, without representation from other faiths and races.
1. Disproportionate emphasis on one religion to the exclusion of all other religious civilization
Out of 10 chapters, 5 chapters are devoted to Islamic history and civilization, which constitutes at least half a year's study. The other religious civilization is almost non-existent in the text.
We do not mind our children understanding more about Islamic civilization. But it has to be presented fairly and accurately with a balanced perspective. Reading the textbook, it seems that there is only one important civilization in the entire history of the human race and the rest are insignificant? Are the other major civilizations not worth studying in equal depth?
Giving our children a correct and broad worldview can only benefit our nation in the context of a globalized world. Otherwise, our nation will be producing people with an extremely narrow worldview and an incomplete and distorted view of world history and civilization.
2.Some of the content of the text is more proper to be taught in a religious class rather than history subject
Secondly, this history textbook seems to seek to influence the young minds of our children who come from various faiths, to follow the prophet of one particular religion. There is a detailed study of the life of the prophet Muhammad (pg 102 – 107). He is repeatedly praised throughout the chapters. Students are then repeatedly exhorted throughout the book, to emulate him as a ROLE MODEL in life (pg 106, 111, 124, 133, 137, 138).
The history textbook itself dwells on the teachings of the religion. Whilst students have to study Islamic concepts (pg 185), no space is given to a balanced comparison with the teachings of other religions. Our youth are therefore taught the virtues of one religion to the exclusion of others.
Why not have a balanced approach and allow our children to learn the basic tenets of all major world religions? Allow them to engage in comparative studies. This will only promote better understanding among different races and religions.
We respect the Muslim belief in the greatness of their prophet. However, we have to respectfully suggest (with no offense intended whatsoever to the prophet) that teachings that encourage students to follow any prophet would more properly belong to a religious class meant for students who already subscribed to that particular faith. Such teaching ought not be taught in a major history textbook for students of other faiths.
In a plural society like ours, the religious sensitivities of other faiths must surely be respected.
3.The writer of the Text seems to have imparted their religiously biased view in the text rather than an objective narration of historical facts.
Throughout the pages of the textbook, history seems to have been written from a religiously biased viewpoint. Other religions seems to be cast in an unfavourable light. Consider some statements found in the textbook:-
(1) Islam is described as a religion easily acceptable and not confined to any race, nation or geography (pg 185).
(2) Islam can be accepted by many people because of the purity of its teaching (pg 110).
(3) The uniqueness of Islam resulted in many people embracing the religion (pg162, 163, 185).
(4) The conversion of some Arab leaders to Islam in 629 AD is described as "an act done after rational investigation into the truth of Islam" (pg 133).
(5) Islamic social policies are described as so attractive that European Christians converted to Islam during the Byzantize era (pg 163).
(6) Islam requires rational thinking and therefore is accepted by all levels of society. (pg 185).
4.The textbook seems to promote Syariah Law as suitable and practical for our Country
The textbook also promotes Syariah law as suitable and practical for a multi racial nation. It cites the example of the success of the multi racial community in Madinah governed by the Madinah Charter. The formation of an Islamic government in Madinah is stated to thus prove that Islam can be practiced in a wholesome daily living and should be emulated by the Malaysian society.
Syariah law is hailed as just, complete and perfect, and can be followed by all communities (pg 128). There is mention of social justice under Islam (pg 128); equal treatment to all people under Islam (pg 110, 128); purity of the struggles of Islam (pg 112); fairness, integrity, consideration and generosity of Islamic economic principles (pg 128).
Why is our school history syllabus written in a way that seems to condition the minds of our youth to accept Syariah laws as the basis of our legal system in the future? Is there a deliberate political and/or religious agenda at play?
Our Education Minister owes us an explanation. We want to know:
1. Why our school curriculum has been allowed to be written from such a religious slant by a group of writers of only one religious background.
2. Why our children are compelled to disproportionately focus and digest so much on one religion without a balanced perspective of others?
We urge for an immediate and urgent revamp and re-writing of the entire history curriculum for our schools and universities. There should be a panel of qualified historians from all races and faiths working reviewing the syllabus. We must insist that politics and religious indoctrination be strictly kept out of our textbooks.
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