Exploring language and education policies for the indigenous minorities in Australia and Malaysia


  • Sumathi Renganathan Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS
  • Inge Kral Australian National University


This paper examines the implication of language and education policies for the indigenous minority populations in two contrasting multicultural and multilingual post-colonial nations, Australia and Malaysia.  By comparing and contrasting ethnolinguistic and educational policies in these two diverse nations, this paper explores how indigenous minorities have been positioned within each nation’s quest for meeting the challenges of becoming multilingual and multicultural nations.  The authors argue that although both countries promote multicultural ideals, they fall short in their acknowledgement of the dignity of difference for their indigenous communities.  Thus, the authors assert that educational and language policies for indigenous peoples must acknowledge the importance of difference and therefore include indigenous cultural ways of knowing, being and doing to achieve successful educational outcomes.

Author Biographies

Sumathi Renganathan, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS

Sumathi Renganathan is a Senior Lecturer in Language and Communication at University Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP), Perak. She obtained her PhD (Education) from King’s College University of London.  Sumathi’s research interests include indigenous education; schooling and literacy practices of the minority; community-based out of school learning and literacy practices; and multilingual, multicultural identity.

Inge Kral, Australian National University

Inge Kral is a linguistic anthropologist with some twenty years experience in Indigenous education. She is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) & School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics /ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics at the Australian National University. Inge's research interests include community-based out of school learning and literacy; youth, digital media and new literacies; Australian Indigenous languages, literacy and new media; and school to work transitions.




How to Cite

Renganathan, S., & Kral, I. (2018). Exploring language and education policies for the indigenous minorities in Australia and Malaysia. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 20(1), 138–156.