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Unveiling Malaysian Preschool Teachers’ Perceptions and Attitudes in Multicultural Early Childhood Education
Posted on 03 January 2017 by Azlinda Abd Rahim (Library Manager)

Abstract Multicultural education is important in multicultural societies. Multicultural education should be introduced in the early years as the preschool years are a critical time when young children develop the moral values and ethical standards of their society. Therefore, it is crucial for preschool teachers to be equipped with the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes to promote multicultural education. This paper reports the findings of a survey involving 854 preschool teachers who were serving in both public and private preschools in Malaysia. The preschool teachers completed a questionnaire to demonstrate their understandings of multicultural education, their perceptions of its importance in early childhood education and their opinions about other preschool teachers’ attitudes towards multicultural education. The findings indicated that the Malaysian preschool teachers had a limited understanding of multicultural education. Although most of them acknowledged the importance of introducing multicultural education at preschool level, the extent to which they actually understood the concept was still doubtful. Even though a majority of the preschool teachers believed that other preschool teachers had favourable attitudes towards multicultural education, there were a considerably high percentage of preschool teachers who actually possessed unfavourable or condition-dependent attitudes. Thus, it is critical to focus on supporting teachers in developing more critical and deeper understandings of multicultural education. Efforts such as reviewing teacher training programmes as well as enhancing teachers’ openness, self-reflective abilities, commitment to social justice and positive intercultural experiences are needed to promote teachers’ positive beliefs and attitudes towards diversity.

Keywords: Multicultural education, Early childhood, Teachers, Perceptions, Attitudes

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