Vernacular education in a multilingual setting: A framing perspective

Sheau Wen Ong, Samuel Chibundu Ihediwa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The medium of instruction has always been a controversial issue in multilingual and multicultural settings. Although vernacular education is a controversial topic in Malaysian society, few studies have examined it from a framing perspective. This study intends to fill this gap in the research by investigating the differences in the framing of vernacular education over a three-year period and by exploring the views of journalists and the sources toward the representation of the vernacular education issue in Malaysian newspapers. The content analysis of 2,735 news articles in four newspapers revealed that Utusan Malaysia was critical of the issue of vernacular education, whereas Sin Chew Daily and The Star supported it. In contrast, news articles with a neutral tone were reported in Malaysiakini. The analysis of data collected in in-depth interviews with 10 participants revealed a divergence in views regarding whether Malaysian media fulfilled their responsibility of providing information in a comprehensive and balanced manner to help the public understand the issue. A tense relationship between journalists and their sources was revealed in the coverage of vernacular education issue, and a high level of distrust was demonstrated. However, all participants agreed that education is highly politicized in Malaysia and that ethnicity is a significant factor. The implications of the findings are discussed, and recommendations for future research are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-461
JournalChinese Journal of Communication
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ethnic identity
  • framing
  • Malaysian media
  • national integration
  • vernacular education


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