Preschool teachers’ training and attitudes towards multicultural education in Malaysia
Keywords:multicultural education, early childhood, preschool teachers, teacher education, attitudes
Multicultural education is crucial in promoting cross-cultural understanding, recognition, and celebration of diversity in Malaysia-one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Preschool teachers play central roles in laying the foundation for cultural acceptance and positive racial interaction during early childhood. This study aims to explore Malaysian preschool teachers’ training and attitudes towards multicultural education. A quantitative questionnaire survey approach was used to gather the required data. The participants consisted of 1,067 preschool teachers from 267 private and government preschools providers in the country. Two validated instruments were employed to measure the variables in this study. The trainings received by the preschool teachers were measured by the Teachers’ Training Multicultural Education Scale (TTMES) while their attitudes towards multicultural education were gauged by the Multicultural Teaching Scale (MTS). Findings showed that preschool teachers were positive about the trainings that they received in relation to multicultural education. However, the extent to which they actually understood the concept of multiculturalism was doubtful in view that two thirds of the teachers demonstrated misconception about the fundamental principles of multicultural education when their attitudes towards multicultural education were examined. Significant differences were found in teachers’ training and attitudes according to the categories of preschools; teachers from mono-cultural preschools displayed the least positive attitudes towards multicultural education. Implications of the study were discussed in the paper.
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