An analysis of gender and ethnic representations in Chinese and Malay primary school reading textbooks: Grades 2--6

Peck-Chong Liew, Tennessee State University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine how gender and ethnicity were represented in both Chinese and Malay language reading textbooks currently used in primary schools of Malaysia. The aim of this textbook analysis was to determine the extent and manner in which the various groups in Malaysia were represented in early reading instructional materials. ^ The research method of quantitative content analysis was utilized in this study to examine both narrative and pictorial contents of the reading textbooks used in Malaysian national primary schools and national-type Chinese primary schools in grades 2 to 6. The recording sheets were utilized to measure gender and ethnic representations with regard to the categories of age, character role, traits, occupation, setting, and activity. ^ Tables of frequencies and percentages were used to summarize gender and ethnic representations in the 16 reading textbooks examined. A comparison of the data from Chinese and Malay reading textbooks was made to determine significant differences, if any, between the two sets of textbooks comparing the main categories and subcategories. ^ Based on the findings, the study found that both Chinese and Malay reading textbooks did not present a balanced gender and ethnic portrayal of story characters. In fact, women and ethnic minorities in Malaysia continued to be portrayed stereotypically in terms of age, character role, traits, occupation, setting, and activity. Furthermore, this study sought to determine whether or not the contents of Chinese and Malay primary school reading textbooks represent the ethnic balance found in the general population of Malaysia. The results showed that the narrative and pictorial contents of both Chinese and Malay reading textbooks did not represent the ethnic make-up of Malaysia. ^ This study demonstrated that the issues of fair and equitable representations continue to be a problem in Malaysia's school textbooks. In order for children to foster understanding of and respect for other culture, school curriculum along with textbooks should provide students an accurate view of Malaysian society and culture. ^

Subject Area

Education, Reading|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Education, Curriculum and Instruction|Gender Studies

Recommended Citation

Peck-Chong Liew, "An analysis of gender and ethnic representations in Chinese and Malay primary school reading textbooks: Grades 2--6" (2007). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3290735.
http://digitalscholarship.tnstate.edu/dissertations/AAI3290735

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