Sanen Marshall said at the beginning of his lecture that Malaysia's university landscape can be divided into universities that profess to islamise knowledge, and those that promote liberal education. According to Marshall, universities promoting liberal education have committed themselves to free, critical science, while the universities promoting the islamisation of knowledge always ask whether research and teaching contents are consistent with the principles of the Islamic faith.
The Organization for Islamic Cooperation and individual Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia have supported the setting up of Islamic universities in Malaysia in the 1980s and even more recently, Marshall reported. For a long time both forms of higher education coexisted, but since the mid-2000s there has been a decline of sorts for the liberal education systems in one or two universities, Marshall said: "The attack on liberal ideas began in the 2000s". At the same time, Islamic ideas and principles have had a growing influence on Malaysia's education system: One school history textbook, for example, teaches without evidence about jihad in Malaysia’s anti-colonial history while valourising Turkey as a historical model for the Islamic world. The translation into Malay of Charles Darwin's book is banned in Malaysia. "Many young students", Marshall said, "are hardly prepared to deal with content critically and freely any more".
At one university which has a liberal education programme, the growth of professorships and lecturing positions has been stagnating in favour of technical and applied courses of study, Marshall reported. This is an indicator that applicable knowledge and skills enjoy a high reputation in Malaysia's education system as well as in its society.
With his lecture, Sanen Marshalls provided an interesting input for the Collaborative Research Centre 1342: Not only global and western international organisations may have a significant influence on the educational and social policies of nation states, but also religious organisations such as the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation.
Prof. Dr. Kerstin Martens
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Phone: +49 421 218-67498