KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — Malaysia’s education programme which focuses on instilling mutual respect from an early age provides a global model for the long-term fight against extremism, Unesco director-general Irina Bokova said today.
Bokova heaped praise on the Malaysian government for focusing on education through its National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 as a long-term preventive measure against the spread of racial and religious terrorism worldwide.
“Indeed, under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the Government of Malaysia has taken a firm stance against violent extremism through inclusion and education, which Unesco considers the most effective long-term prevention to forces threatening to divide societies,” she said in a statement to mark the public launch of the Asia Society Centre for Global Citizenship Education, and published on the Unesco website.
She added that Malaysia showcases the respect for cultural diversity at the heart of Unesco’s programme, which can be seen in the choice of Kuala Lumpur as the host of the regional Counter-Messaging Communication Centre in line with Najib’s call for a Global Movement of Moderates against Extremism.
“This spirit of dialogue and openness echoes all Unesco’s actions to promote peace and improve human dignity through the ‘soft power’ of education, culture and the sciences,” she said.
Bokova also paid tribute to the Permata programme dedicated to children and family welfare started by the prime minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor as an exemplary initiative to promote peace.
“In this context, Permata, established upon the initiative of Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor, the First Lady of Malaysia, stands as an outstanding example of inclusion, reaching the most marginalised, through holistic approaches that start at the earliest age, promote values of peace, non-violence and respect for cultural diversity, and improve lifetime opportunities for children and youth,” she said.
Rosmah was reported to be among several personalities chosen by Unesco for its “Lead by Example” award in conjunction with the 71st United Nations Assembly in New York, but which she has since declined recently owing to alleged “intervention” by two US news groups.