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0 Overview of Malaysian Education System

Malaysia occupies the southernmost peninsular of Southeast Asia and the

northern one-third of Borneo. It became a nation on September 16, 1963 when Sabah
and Sarawak joined Malaysia which had earlier gained independence from the British
on August 31, 1957 to form a single federation. Malaysia has a democratically elected
Government with a constitution monarch. Malaysia has a multi-ethnic population with
overall of population of 28.3 million; Peninsular Malaysia 22.6 million, Sabah 3.2
million, and Sarawak 2.5 million.
Malaysian education history start before the independent of the nation, the
education prior to independence 1786-1957 were when the British encouraged mass
immigration of workers from China and India to work in the tin mines and rubber
plantations respectively. Furthermore, rapid urban development took place during the
blooming colonial economy. The Malays remained in rural areas, urban areas were
dominated by the Chinese and a minority of Indians who eventually controlled
commerce and industry. The schools were established by British colonial government,
Moslem and Christians missionaries and Ethnic communities (Chinese, Malays, and
Indians). The types of school is divided by English schools, Vernacular schools, Malays,
Chinese, Tamil and Islamic. Moreover, common features of schools is different
curriculum, different examinations, different language of instruction, different education
philosophy and orientation, and decentralized (governance & finance).
Things are different after independence. Educations are more enhanced rather
than the past. There are no different schools, learning. Now, Malaysia has many
different schools such as; Sekolah Kebangsaan, Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan CinaSJK(c), and Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil SJK (t). Even though the schools are
different, but they learning the same thing. Same education, same methods, same
technologies. Now, educations are under control from Kementerian Pendidikan
Malaysia (Ministry of Education).

2.0 National Education System (Malaysia)

The education system were started with pre-school, primary, lower secondary,
upper secondary, post-secondary and higher education. In include government aided
and private schools or education institutions-exception: expatriate & international
schools. National education philosophy is the education in Malaysia is an on-going effort
towards further developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated
manner so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and
physically balanced and harmonious, based on a firm belief in and devotion to God.
Such an effort is designed to produce Malaysian citizens who are knowledgeable and
competent, who possess high moral standards, and who are responsible and capable of
achieving high level of personal well-being as well as being able to contribute to the
betterment of the family, the society and the nation at large.
There were several objectives of national education which is; to produce a loyal
and united Malaysian nation, to produce faithful, well-mannered, knowledgeable,
competent and

prosperous individuals, to produce the nations human resource for

development needs, and to provide educational opportunities for all Malaysians.

2.1 Features of National Education System

National unity
National Language as main medium of instruction (Mandarin in Chinese

primary, Tamil in Indian primary schools)

Common curriculum
Common examination
National education philosophy
Centralized (governance and finance for government institutions)

2.2 Flow of Education System in Malaysia

3.0 Development and Formation of National Education System

The Malaysian education system were develop and formulate through several
report which have been chosen. It comprises Barnes Report (1951a), Fenn-Wu Report
(1957b), Razak Report (1957), Rahman Talib (1961), Cabinet Report (1979), and
Private Higher Education Act 1996.

3.1 Barnes Report (1951a)

A decade before the end of the British rule, the educational system in Malaya
was reorganized along the lines of the Barnes Report of 1951. Up to that point of time,
Malaya's educational system lacked uniformity in curriculum and an articulated rationale
for a policy which would be relevant to the political and socio-economic goals of the
people. The country's three principal ethnic communitiesMalays, Chinese and Indians
(mostly Tamils from South India)ran their own schools, the latter two often importing a
syllabus used in the countries of their origin. The Barnes Report recommended a
national school system, which would provide primary education for 6 years in Malaya
and English, hoping that over a period of time, the attraction to have separate schools in
Chinese and Tamil would wane and disappear. The reaction of the Chinese community
to the Barnes Report was not totally positive. While the community agreed with the
basic recommendation that Malay be treated as the principal language, it felt that there
should be some provision to recognize Chinese and Tamil as important components of
a new definition of Malaya's national identity.
Partly to pacify the ethnic sensitivities, the colonial government approved a
modified formula that would allow bilingualism in Malay schools (Malay and English)
and three language "solution" in Tamil and Chinese schools (either Tamil-Malay-English
or Chinese-Malay-English). It recommended a common curriculum for all schools,
hoping that a national school system would evolve. In 1955, two years before Malaya's
independence, the Razak Report endorsed the concept of a national education system
based on Malay (the national language), being the main medium of instruction. A key
paragraph from it was reproduced in Section 3 of the Education Ordinance of 1957: A

national system of education acceptable to the people of the Federation [of Malaya] as
a whole which will satisfy their needs and promote their cultural, social, economic and
political development as a nation, having regard to the intention to make Malay the
national language of the country while preserving and sustaining the growth of the
language and culture of other communities living in the country.

3.2 Fenn-Wu Report (1957b)

Earlier in January 1951, two educationists, William P. Fenn, then associate
executive secretary of the board of trustees of a number of institutions of higher learning
in China, and Wu Teh-yao, then an official with the United Nations, were invited by the
federal government to conduct a study of Chinese schools in Malaya. The study aimed
to make recommendations that would lead to a greater contribution by Chinese schools
in Malaya to the goal of an independent Malayan nation composed of people of many
races but having a common loyalty. Some of the recommendation made by The FennWu Report were:

vernacular schools continue to exist

Trilingualism in Chinese Malayans, with Malay as the official language,

English as the business language, and Chinese as the cultural language

an increase in government subsidies
formation of a committee to look into existing problems in schools;
formation of a committee to produce textbooks based on modern
pedagogical methods, with Malaya as the focus, while preserving Chinese

culture and tradition;

establishment of an institution to produce more qualified teachers
And an improvement in the terms of service of Chinese school teachers.

Overall, the report supported the idea of constructing a national community that would
preserve existing multiculturalism.
The Central Advisory Committee on Education, Federation of Malaya, reviewed
both the Fenn-Wu report and the Report on Malay Education in Malaya (1951 or Barnes
Report) and made known their findings in a publication titled Report on the Barnes

Report on Malay Education and the Fenn-Wu Report on Chinese Education on 10

September 1951. This report led to the enactment of the Education Ordinance of 1952,
which largely incorporated the Barnes reports recommendation of a six-year free
compulsory education for all children aged six to 12, during which both Malay and
English would be taught.

3.3 Razak Report (1957)

The Razak Report is an educational proposal to reform the education system in
Malaya. Put forward in 1956, it was named after the then Education Minister Tun Abdul
Razak. The report was incorporated into Section 3 of the Education Ordinance of 1957
and served as the basis of the educational framework for independent Malaya and,
subsequently, Malaysia. The Razak Report is a compromise between: the Barnes
Report, favored by the Malays, which was formerly passed into law as the Education
Ordinance of 1952, and the Fenn-Wu Report, favored by the Chinese and Indians.
While the Razak Report forwarded the Malay language as the main medium of
instruction, it allows the retention of other language medium schools. In other words, the
national language is to be the main medium of instruction, and not the sole medium.
The Razak Report provides for Malay, English, Chinese, and Tamil schools at the
primary-school level, and Malay and English schools at the secondary-school level.
Malay-medium schools are referred to as "national" schools while other schools are
referred to as "national-type" schools. All schools are government-funded and use a
common national curriculum, regardless of school type. Other provisions include; (1)
Formation of a single system of national education, (2) Commencement of a Malayanorientated curriculum, (3) Conception of a single system of evaluation for all, and (4)
Recognition of the eventual objective of making the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu)
as the main medium of instruction.
3.4 Rahman Talib (1961)
To speed up the process of national integration and unity, the Rahman Talibs
Report was made to review the education policy in 1960 and became a basis to

establish the Education Act 1961. The act provides the legal basis for enabling national
language to be a compulsory subject in primary and secondary school and in all training
institutions. In addition, it is a requirement to have a satisfied grade to be awarded a
certificate for public education examination especially at the end and upper secondary
levels. All School using English as the medium of instruction were gradually adopting
National language.

3.5 Cabinet Report (1979)

Education curriculum is the heartbeat of the education system. The primary and
secondary educations have adopted a new curriculum based on the Cabinet Report on
Educational Policy Implementation in 1979 (Mahathirs Report). It is to realize the
National Education Philosophy and the requirement for the human resource in the
country. The school curriculum are categorized as New Primary School Curriculum
(NPSC) and Integrated Secondary School Curriculum (ISSC) for lower and upper level.
NPSC emphasizes reading, writing and arithmetic skill. They covers the communication
skill; the man and environment; and individual self-development.
NPSC together with ISSC will foster the holistic and integrated development of
individuals in the intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical aspects towards
producing a balanced, harmonious and responsible citizen. At the lower secondary
level, there are core and additional subjects and divided into such component: Malay,








Education/Moral Education, Physical and Health Education, and Integrated Living Skills;
and additional subjects are Chinese and Tamil Languages. The Integrated Living Skills
are divided into two sections. First, the core subject comprises three components:
manipulative skills, commerce and entrepreneurship and family life education. Second,
the elective subject also comprises three components: additional manipulative skills,
home economics and agriculture. Student will choose one component in the elective
3.6 Private Higher Education Act 1996

The Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 is a seventy page document
by the Malaysian government that regulates the private tertiary educational institutions
(PHEIs) and tertiary students. The following important areas are covered by the Act:
regulations pertaining to establishment of a PHEI as a university, University College or
branch campus, registration of the PHEI, management of the PHEI, conduct of courses,
discipline and conduct of tertiary students. Other areas include permits to teach,
revocation and cancellation of a registered tertiary institution, statutory inspection of a
tertiary institution, closing down of an institution, proceedings for investigation of an
institution, offences and penalties for institutions and the Ministers powers in
overseeing the operation of PHEIs.
The important focus will be on how the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act
impacts on the actions of tertiary students. The section on discipline and conduct of
tertiary students will be discussed and the consequences of violation clarified. This will
serve to inform, protect and safeguard tertiary students throughout their duration of
study in Malaysia. This can result in huge cost savings and priceless value addition to
the student who has made the smart decision of benefiting from the best value
information and services we provide free to tertiary students. Moreover, prospective
students intending to study in Malaysia can also benefit in being more prepared for
study life in Malaysia.

4.0 Development Master Plan

The Education Development Plan for Malaysia (2001-2010), henceforth referred

to as the Blueprint, takes into account the goals and aspirations of the National Vision
Policy to build a resilient nation, encourage the creation of a just society, maintain
sustainable economic growth, develop global competitiveness, build a knowledge-based
economy (K-economy), strengthen human resource development, and maintain
sustainable environment development. The Third Outline Perspective Plan (2001-2010)
and the Eighth Malaysia Plan (2001-2005) outlined the strategies, programs, and
projects to increase the nations economic growth towards building a united, just and
equitable society as well as meeting the challenges of globalization and K-economy.
The ultimate aim of these long and medium-terms plans is to build Malaysia into a
developed nation based on its own mound. These plans have great implications on the
national education system.
It comprises Six Strategic Thrusts; (1) Nation Building, (2) Human Capital
Development, (3) Strengthening National Schools, (4) Reducing Education Gap, (5)
Improving the Prestige of the Teaching Profession, (6) Promoting Institutional
Excellence. Furthermore, the higher education were established new plan towards year
2020. This include; (1) Increasing Access and Equity, (2) Improving Teaching and
Learning Quality, (3) Enhancing Research and Innovation, (4) Strengthening Higher
Education Institutions, (5) Increasing Internationalization, (6) Enculturation of lifelong
learning, (7) Strengthening Delivery by Minister of Higher Education.

5.0 Repositioning Quality Assurance in Malaysia (MQA)

In 1997 National Accreditation Board (Lembaga Akreditasi Negara, LAN) was

established for Quality Assurance (QA) of programs in the private higher education
sector. In 2002, Quality Assurance (audit) Division (QAD) in the Ministry was setup for
public universities. MQA was established under the Malaysian Qualifications Agency Act
2007. The merger of LAN and the QAD provides for a common quality assurance









governments policies, trends and societal needs and the need to strengthen and
consolidate. Moreover, other bodies playing a very important role higher education is
the Department of Public Service and The Statutory Professional bodies.
The Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) aspires to become a credible and
internationally recognized higher education quality assurance body that inspires the
confidence of its stakeholders through competent, responsible, accountable and
transparent good practices. The main role of the MQA is to be the guardian of the
Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF) as a reference point for national
qualifications, and to oversee quality assurance practices and accreditation of national
higher education.