Abstract. A comparative analysis of state education policy in multicultural societies allows to assess the potential of such policy in providing an interethnic harmony. Through the example of a former colonial power and a former colony, the author reveals resources and restrictions of such policy in building a civic identity. It is shown that in the UK, the key role in preventing an ethnopolitical conflict is played by identity politics based on diversity values. However, the British educational discourse is interpreted at the local level, in light of different approaches to teaching and representing the identity in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as to the phenomenon of “neoliberal rationality” which significantly weakens the state’s ability to impose a certain vision of identity on its citizens. While in Malaysia some elements of the British educational policy can still be found, along with a similar perception of civic identity represented in terms of a diverse society, its educational policy is more homogeneous and more effective due to a number of reasons. The main contribution to establishing a certain level of interethnic harmony in Malaysia, apart from promotion of the civic identity concept, was made, firstly, by improving an access to education for all ethnic groups, the resulting alignment of social imbalances and increase in economic mobility, and secondly, by developing both English and national language teaching as well as improving the latter in order to follow dictates of the present time.
Keywords: ethnicity, national identity, civic identity, multiculturalism, multicultural society, interethnic harmony, ethnopolitical conflict management, education policy, comparative studies, UK, Malaysia
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