This chapter explores curricular challenges to multiculturalism in the Mekong subregion of Southeast Asia by looking at human rights and history textbooks in Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. Although these countries are part of an elite effort aimed at constructing a multicultural regional identity through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which partly relies on common educational practices and policies, the countries are perhaps best known for their human rights abuses, illiberal policies, and undemocratic polities. These issues are counter to much thinking on human rights and are revealed by analyzing textbooks. To unpack the curricular challenges, this chapter looks at the disputed histories and contested national identities in short case studies from each country's upper-secondary history textbook. In Laos, the conflation of socialism and capitalism is contextualized to the changing geopolitical realties of the country. This is the explicit curriculum-that which is purposefully taught as mandated by the government. In Thailand, the xenophobic origin story of the Thai race shows a negative historical memory toward migration and mobility. This is the implicit curriculum-that which is hidden inside the curriculum. In Cambodia, the selective history of the Khmer Rouge offers an entry point into the disputed histories among countries in Southeast Asia. This is the null curriculum-that which is not taught for political reasons. Collectively, the three cases of the explicit, implicit, and null curriculum underscore the challenges facing supranational efforts to create a curriculum advancing human rights-and therefore multiculturalism-in the Mekong.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)