Education in Malaysia

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Welcome to the Wikibook on "Education in Malaysia." This collaborative resource delves deep into the multifaceted world of Malaysia's educational landscape. Education plays a pivotal role in shaping a nation's future, and Malaysia's journey in this regard is both fascinating and instructive.

A tapestry of history, culture, policy, and innovation has been woven together to form Malaysia's educational progress. The education system in the country has seen considerable changes, reflecting the changing nature of Malaysian society, from its colonial origins to its contemporary efforts. To appreciate the varied educational options and challenges Malaysia faces today, it is essential to understand this historical backdrop.

The education system in Malaysia is thoroughly examined in this Wikibook. It explores significant historical events, the complex structure of the educational system, the dynamic interactions between different educational levels, and the urgent concerns that require attention. By the time this voyage is complete, readers will have a thorough understanding of Malaysia's educational system in addition to new perspectives on more general issues like quality assurance, diversity, and the value of education for societal advancement.

Understanding the Historical Evolution of Education in Malaysia

This chapter embarks on a journey through time, focusing on the historical evolution of education in Malaysia. To comprehend the present and envision the future, it is paramount to understand the historical context in which Malaysia's education system has developed. This historical backdrop provides invaluable insights into the shaping of educational policies, the influence of external forces, and the evolution of societal values that have collectively molded Malaysia's educational landscape. Significance of Understanding Historical Context

  1. Policy Insights: Analyzing the evolution of education historically reveals the underlying ideologies and philosophies that have influenced educational policies. Policymakers can make well-informed judgments for the future by reviewing previous policies and their results.
  2. Cultural and Social Understanding: Education and cultural and societal norms are closely related. Understanding how education has contributed to forming Malaysian identity and values requires an exploration of the historical backdrop.
  3. Legacy and Continuity: The historical growth of Malaysia is reflected in many facets of the country's contemporary educational system. It promotes a sense of continuity and heritage to acknowledge this legacy.
  4. Difficulties and Possibilities: Historical trends frequently repeat themselves. Educators and policymakers can foresee prospective obstacles and possibilities in the constantly changing educational landscape by looking at previous struggles and accomplishments.
  5. Global Perspectives: Knowledge of Malaysia's educational past adds to the conversation on education around the world. It provides insights into the difficulties experienced by countries trying to create inclusive educational systems of the highest caliber.

Colonial Influence on Education in Malaysia

Racism-related thoughts or feelings have been promoted through British Colonial Education. The schools are divided from one another based on location and population density because each type of school is specifically for one race. (1990, p. 5; Abdullah Sani & P. Kumar). It is evident that Malayan children have primarily been raised in schools using a variety of philosophies. Schools have also evolved into places where kids can concentrate on and be separated from other kids of a similar race. It is difficult for the Malay, Chinese, and Indian kids to interact with one another. There was little sense of patriotism at the time for Malaya as a whole; rather, it was more of an attitude toward their race and ethnic group. (Ibrahim Saad, 1977, p.40).

The divide between the elite group and the common population in Malaya has also grown as a result of British Colonial Education. Some schools were established as part of the Colonial Education Policy to educate future public servants. People from the top class and Malay monarchs, for instance, are among the elites who enroll in the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK). The Malay Vernacular School is attended by the general public, who are required to follow and conform to these elites. The implication is that the British educational system does nothing to bridge the gap in the Malay community but instead allows it to grow. School has turned into "the great divider," not the great equalizer. Ibrahim Saad (1977), p. 40.

Class and status differences among societies are another effect of colonial schooling. Some students who enroll in a particular school receive greater financial rewards. Consequently, there is a class distinction based on financial benefits. For instance, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil pupils attend schools with lower rewards than English-taught students. (Ibrahim Saad,1977, p. 40.)

Economic disparities between the races are another effect of the Colonial Education Policy. For example, Malay schooling has kept the Malays out of urban and industrial development, which is directly tied to British Malaya's rise to prominence as a major producer of tin and rubber in the globe. p. 18 of Abu Zahari's 1980 book. The Indian community continues to reside in rubber plantations, the Malays continue to settle in the hamlet by working in the paddy fields, and the Chinese community runs businesses.

The lack of an integrated national conscience among the Malayan populace is another implication that can be noticed through the Colonial Education system. There is no racial equality in Malaya and the nationalism that exists there is not integrated. Haris Md. Jadi claims that there are Malay nationalist movements as well as immigrant ethnic nationalism movements that resemble their home nations. (Haris Md. Jadi,1990, p. 23–24). The British Educational System, which offers separate education to Malays, Chinese, and Indians, is to blame for this predicament.

Challenges and Progress in Malaysia's Education

The Government of Malaysia requested that the accomplishments and difficulties in five national priority areas of education policy be summarized in the parts that follow. These include: learning assessment, including school-based assessments and exams, teacher development; curriculum creation with a focus on science and math; technical and vocational education and training (TVET); and the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education.

According to national and international surveys, Malaysia upholds high professional standards and offers its teachers working conditions that are superior to those in the Asia-Pacific area. Indeed, teacher incentives and compensation account for a considerable portion of public spending on education. In terms of pay, the ratio of teacher salaries to per-capita GDP is predicted to be 3.9, compared to a range of 1.5 to 2.0 for OECD nations. One of the 27 Institutes of Teacher Education (ITE) that offer Bachelor of Teaching programs, Post-graduate Education Courses, and Diploma in Education courses trains both primary and secondary teachers.

In order to boost the proportion of primary and secondary school teachers with graduate-level training, various reforms, including the Special Graduate Programme and the Degree Programe for Non-Graduate Teachers, have been implemented.  The Teacher Graduate Program will continue on this course during the tenth Malaysian Plan (2011–2015).  In order to meet the demands of a "knowledge-based" economy, further reforms aim to alter the role and teaching strategies of teachers.

Despite these successes, a number of obstacles that could harm excellent educators and their methods of instruction were found, as listed below:

Despite Malaysian certification requirements for teachers, the number of underqualified teachers, particularly in basic schools, may have a negative impact on the standard of instruction. Although teachers in Malaysia are paid fairly, there is still a need to recruit more excellent graduates into the teaching field.

In Malaysia, in-service training is typical, and it is formally mandated for teachers each year. The number of teachers who genuinely gain from beneficial in-service training programs, however, may be increased. Terchins of elementary schools are most affected by this.

Although teachers in Malavasia are generally very committed to their pupils, a lack of administrative support in schools, especially primary schools, and/or an excessive amount of administrative work for teachers may make it difficult for them to spend more time with their students.

The idea of "meritocracy" is accepted and respected, but there are concerns about the potential drawbacks of funding schools based on arguably limited definitions of academic success.

Although there are numerous leadership-focused training programs available to school principals, administrators, and other education leaders, school leaders might still be given more authority to act as "leaders" rather than "managers."

Structure and Organization of Malaysia's Education System

Malaysia's education system is a diversified and multifaceted framework that demonstrates the country's dedication to offering its citizens affordable, high-quality education. This chapter provides an overview of the structure and administration of Malaysia's educational system, emphasizing the numerous educational levels that make up this extensive framework.

Structure of education:

There are five levels in the formal education system in Malaysia: preschool, primary education, lower secondary education, upper secondary education, and higher education. Although the eleven years of basic education (up to upper secondary education) are free, only primary education is required.

The target audience for preschool education in Malaysia is children aged 0–6 years, with childcare and nursery programs for youngsters aged 0–4 and kindergarten for youngsters aged 4-6.  At the age of six, kids are enrolled in primary school for a six-year term. 

Primary schools come in two flavors: national schools, which teach in Bahasa Malaysia, and national-type schools, which instruct in Mandarin or Tamil. All pupils must pass the Primary School Assessment Test (UPSR) to earn a primary school diploma after six years.

In order to be eligible for secondary education, graduates of national-type schools must complete an additional year of education to become proficient in Bahasa Malaysia.

All students must pass an exam to get their lower certificate of education after completing three years of lower secondary education. Students are then enrolled in academic, technical, vocational, or religious (Islamic) schools based on the outcomes of this exam. 

The second year of upper secondary school is two years long.  The Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM) is taken by those in the academic and technical tracks, while the Malaysian Certificate of Education (Vocational) Examination is taken by those in the vocational tracks.

Grades in Malaysia

Like many other nations, Malaysia uses a letter grading system in its educational institutions. The basic framework of the grading system is as follows, albeit it may vary significantly between various educational levels and institutions:

  1. Primary Education (Primary School):
    • A (Excellent)
    • B (Good)
    • C (Satisfactory)
    • D (Pass)
    • E (Fail)
  2. Secondary Education (Secondary School and Upper Secondary School):
    • A+ (Excellent)
    • A (Good)
    • A- (Satisfactory)
    • B+ (Satisfactory)
    • B (Satisfactory)
    • B- (Pass)
    • C+ (Pass)
    • C (Pass)
    • C- (Pass)
    • D (Fail)
  3. Pre-University and Higher Education:
    • A (Excellent)
    • A- (Very Good)
    • B+ (Good)
    • B (Good)
    • B- (Satisfactory)
    • C+ (Satisfactory)
    • C (Satisfactory)
    • F (Fail)

The Grade Point Average (GPA) system, which gives each grade a numerical value and computes an average GPA for a student's academic achievement, may also be used by higher education institutions. The precise GPA scale can differ depending on the institution, but generally speaking, it runs from 0.0 (Fail) to 4.0 (A or Excellent).

Quality Assurance in Malaysia's Education System

Malaysia has a long history of systematic formal evaluation. Since gaining its independence, the nation has committed a lot of resources to building the infrastructure required to support a unified national evaluation system throughout the 13 states and three federal territories. The school education system has undergone extensive change and adjustments over time to suit the demands and ambitions of a rapidly rising economy, where graduates must possess cross-disciplinary abilities in order to address modern problems. In order to remain effective, assessment tools, such as the well-known centralized exams, must adapt to new requirements. This entails making the most of the already-existing expertise in centralized exams, streamlining programs that provide little value, and investing in new knowledge in alternative forms of assessment, notably in support of the reform of school-based assessment.

Establishing clear priorities and a direct line of sight between aspirations, objectives, instrument design, and implementation are essential for successfully guiding this novel assessment modality through its still difficult developmental stage. Additionally, change in the area of assessment rarely focuses solely on the content of the policy; it also has a great deal to do with execution, buy-in, and trust in the governing institutions. It is best practice to establish trusting connections with all parties involved in the education supply chain, including its end users, as this will support an effective assessment reform.

Positive sides of Malaysian education which we can bring to Uzbekistan's education system

The educational system in Uzbekistan may benefit from incorporating Malaysia's system's strong points to make changes. The following are some advantages of Malaysia's educational system for Uzbekistan:

Language competency in Uzbekistan can be improved by Malaysia's multilingual strategy, which places a strong focus on English alongside national languages. Immersion in a second language and bilingual education can encourage multilingualism from a young age.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET): The effective TVET system in Malaysia synchronizes academic instruction with business demands. The skills gap in Uzbekistan can be closed by putting in place a strong TVET system that gives students real-world, employable skills.

The quality of higher education institutions and programs in Uzbekistan can be ensured via Malaysia's quality assurance processes, such as accreditation and external evaluations. The universities in Uzbekistan may benefit from this in terms of legitimacy and reputation.

To encourage cultural diversity and globalization in Uzbekistan's educational system, Malaysia established branch campuses of foreign universities and attracted international students. Additionally, it can raise the nation's standing in the world of education.

Uzbekistan can use Malaysia's efforts to achieve equitable access to education for all citizens as an example of how to ensure inclusivity in education, including initiatives for students with disabilities and underserved communities.

Uzbekistan can invest in programs for teacher training and professional development to give educators the most recent pedagogical strategies, expertise integrating technology, and a dedication to lifelong learning.

E-Government projects: Improving administrative procedures, cutting down on red tape, and increasing efficiency and openness in education management can all be accomplished by taking a cue from Malaysia's e-government projects.

Uzbekistan's educational system might be significantly improved by adopting these advantageous components from Malaysia's educational system and modifying them to fit the country's particular circumstances and requirements. To execute these beneficial changes, cooperation between educational institutions, governmental organizations, and international partners will be crucial.


Malavsia has always placed a high priority on education as it works to become a prosperous country. The Malaysian government devotes a significant percentage of its annual budget to investing in human resource development as well as infrastructure and funding for education. Due to globalization and the rapid advancement of technology around the world, Malaysia is working harder than ever to keep up with the latest trends.


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