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Educational Development in Malaysia: Meeting the Challenges of National
Integration Seminar presented by Associate Professor Anna Christina Abdullah
INTRODUCTION Malaysia occupies the southernmost peninsula of Southeast Asia and the northern one-third of Borneo. It became a nation on September 16, 1963 when Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya 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 constitutional monarch.
Population (26,640,200) Malaysia - multi-ethnic population consisting of native (bumiputera) and immigrant (non-bumiputera) ethnic groups. Malays - main indigenous ethnic group. The main immigrant groups -Chinese and Indians Bumiputeras 65.1% (2000). Chinese 26.0 % Indians 7.7 %
|Primitive and Feudal Period
The first human beings arrived in East Malaysia around 35,000BCE and in West Malaysia around 25,000BCE.
On the peninsula, the aboriginal people are collectively known as the Orang Asli.
The modern Malays are the descendents of the Deutero-Malays an amalgam of many early ethnic groups including Indians, Chinese, Siamese, Arabs, and Proto-Malays. During the 13th century, a great maritime kingdom called Srivijaya emerged in the Malay Archipelago. However, as other ports emerged towards the end of the 13th century, Srivijayas influence declined and paved the way for the Malays to emerge as the dominant power in the Malay Archipelago.
Malacca was founded in 1400 by Parameswara, a prince from Sumatra. The strategic location of the port of Malacca at the narrowest part of the Straits of Malacca allowed it to control the lucrative spice trade. Revenue from port taxes and services greatly enriched Malacca. Muslim traders from Arabia and India brought Islam to Malacca. Soon after establishing his kingdom, Parameswara converted from Hinduism to Islam
Malacca fell to the Portuguese in 1511.
Primitive and Feudal Period
|The British colonial period
Captain Francis Light of the British East India Company convinced the Sultan of Kedah to allow them to build a fort in Penang, an island off the northwestern coast of the Malay Peninsula in 1786.
Penang, Malacca, and Singapore collectively came to be known as the Straits Settlements.
The main concern of the British was to maintain peace and order to facilitate the exploitation of the economic resources of Malaysia, especially tin and rubber.
The British encouraged mass immigration of workers from China and India to work in the tin mines and rubber plantations respectively. Rapid urban development took place during the booming colonial economy.
The Malays remained in rural areas; the towns were dominated by the Chinese and a minority of Indians who eventually controlled commerce and industry.
Colonial period can be divided into 3 phases:
1786-1941: laissez faire
The Chinese community actively established
their own schools and imported curricula,
teachers and textbooks from China.
1941-1945. Japanese occupation
1946-1957. After the Japanese
Malay nationalists organized mass
protests against the Malayan Union
and demanded independence.
The Barnes Report (Malaya 1951a)
The Report of the Central Advisory
Committee (Malaya 1951b)
|Early Independence (1957-1970)
The Razak Report and the Education Ordinance of 1957. The Report of the Education Committee, 1956 (Malaya 1956), popularly known as the Razak Report was the governments educational blueprint for post-independence Malaysia to create a national education system aimed at fostering national integration. The Razak Report resulted in Malaysias first legislation on education as an independent nation the Education Ordinance of 1957.
There are two major differences between the education ordinances of 1952 and 1957. Under the former, Chinese and Tamil vernacular primary schools existed outside the national education system but under the latter, such schools were integrated within the national education system as national type primary schools. Thus, the 1957 Ordinance favored the interests of the non-bumiputeras more than the 1952 Ordinance.
The Rahman Talib Report and the
Education Act of 1961
Non-bumiputera domination of the economy accelerated after independence resulting in increasing interethnic tensions which culminated in the violent inter-racial riots of May 13, 1969.
The government launched a 20-year plan in 1970 called the New Economic Policy (NEP) to regulate and restructure the economy. In particular, ownership of equity capital of bumiputeras, nonbumiputeras and foreigners would conform to a ratio of 30:40:30.
In the restructuring of the corporate sector, the share capital of bumiputeras increased from 3 percent in 1970 to 18.5 percent in 1985 and 20.3 percent in 1990.
Impact on educational policies
The Report of the Cabinet Committee to Review Educational Policy (1979).
to recommend steps to improve the
implementation of the Education Act of 1961. In
particular, the Committee was charged with
reviewing the existing primary and secondary
|Liberalization and Globalization Era (1990-the
Although the aim of carving out a 30
percent share of the economy for the bumiputeras by 1990 was far from
being achieved, the government
decided that enough momentum
had been built up to justify the easing
of government regulation of the
Two major pieces of educational
legislation were passed in 1996. The most important impact
of the Education Act of 1996 was to incorporate preschool
education within the national education system. The
Private Higher Educational Institution (PHEI) Act which was
also passed in 1996 aimed to increase private sector
participation in tertiary education. The PHEI Act allows the
private sector to establish degree awarding institutions. It
also allows foreign universities to set up branch campuses
LEVELS OF EDUCATION Malaysia has a centralized system
of education. Until recently, overall control of the entire
education system was in the hands of the Education Minister
who is ultimately answerable to the Prime Minister. Since
March 27, 2004, however, the Education Ministry has been
split into two the revamped Ministry of Education which
encompasses most of the original divisions and departments,
and the Ministry of Higher Education. The Ministry of
Higher Education oversees the Institutes of Higher Education
Management Division, the Polytechnics and Community Colleges
Management Division, the National Accreditation Board, the
Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation as well as 17 universities and
Structure and Curriculum
Malaysias current system of education can be described as a P-13 system, i.e. 13 points or year levels of education preceding university education. The P-13 system is sub-divided into 6-3-2-2 levels consisting of 6 years of primary schooling, 3 years of lower secondary education, 2 years of upper secondary education and 2 years of pre-university education. Under the Education Act of 1996, preschool education of children of age 5+ has been incorporated within the national system of education.
Preschool education is offered both by government agencies and the private sector. All preschool centres have to abide by the curriculum guidelines set by the Ministry of Education under the Education Act of 1996. Although Malaysia has achieved near universal primary education (exceeding 96 %), the preschool enrolment rate at 64 %. However, it is envisaged that this will increase to 95% by the year 2010. As might be expected, the participation rate in rural areas is lower than that in urban areas.
Primary School Education
Only in 2003 that Malaysia implemented a policy of compulsory primary education. The enrollment rate for primary education increased steadily from 93 % in 1991, 94 % in 1992, 95 % in 1994 and 96 % in 1995 and is expected to reach 99 % by 2010. The primary education system is divided into the national schools (Sekolah Kebangsaan or SK) and vernacular or national type schools (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan or SJK). The medium of instruction in the SKs is Malay. Chinese vernacular schools or SJKC conduct classes in Mandarin and Indian vernacular schools or SJKT use Tamil. Recent attempts to establish vision schools (Sekolah Wawasan). Vision schools share facilities among two or more national and national type schools, ostensibly to encourage closer inter-ethnic interaction.
Secondary School Education
learners are streamed into three types of lower secondary schools, regular day schools, fully residential schools, and MARA Junior Science Colleges. Fully residential schools and MARA Junior Science Colleges are elite schools reserved largely for bumiputera students. Lower secondary education for most students lasts three years. However, all students from the SJKC and SJKT, apart from those who achieve excellent results in Bahasa Malaysia in the UPSR, are retained in Remove Classes for a year before commencing secondary schooling. Entry into upper secondary education depends on the learners performance in the PMR. Upper secondary education is divided into three streams the academic, technical and vocational streams. There are four kinds of upper secondary schools in the academic stream regular day schools, fully residential schools, Science Secondary Schools and MARA Junior Science Colleges.
The vocational stream offers practical training in trade skills for less academically-inclined learners. The technical stream, on the other hand, provides training in highly specialised technical skills. At the end of the two years of upper secondary education, students sit for the SPM, a national examination equivalent to the British General Certificate of Secondary Education. In Malaysias centralized educational system, all secondary school students follow the KBSM curriculum. Under the previous secondary school curriculum, pupils were streamed into science and arts streams, whereby they had to select more or less preset science or arts subject packages. Under KBSM, pupils are allowed to select between two to four elective subjects from a minimum of two elective packages: Humanities, Vocational and Technological, Science and Islamic Studies.
Post-Secondary/Tertiary Education. Post-secondary education is divided into
college, polytechnic and pre-university education. Students who only wish to
pursue their studies up to the certificate and diploma levels enter Teacher
Education Colleges, Polytechnics, and the Tunku Abdul Rahman College where
professional courses are offered. STPM and matriculation serve as two parallel
filters for university entrance. The two systems of examinations are not
equivalent as the matriculation program is internally examined by the individual
matriculation colleges while the STPM is examined according to a central
ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION National Integration and Equity Issues. Malaysia
has made tremendous strides in terms of creating an integrated national system
of education from the chaotic legacy of the British colonial administration.
At the same time, Malaysias record in providing universal access to education
regardless of social and cultural background is good.
Sponsored mobility Out of necessity, the government was forced to suspend
meritocracy in 1970 and implement a preferential education selection policy in
favour of Malays and other bumiputeras to enable the bumiputeras to catch up
economically with the non-bumiputeras. The Malays have made tremendous strides
in education and a vibrant professional, managerial and entrepreneurial
bumiputera class has emerged. Nevertheless, the progress made in education
amongst the bumiputeras has been uneven. The drop-out rate from primary schools
for the Orang Asli and minority bumiputera communities in Sabah and Sarawak
stands at a staggering 62% against the national average of 3.1% in 1995
(Ministry of Education, 2001).
Natives vs Non-natives On the larger question of national integration
between natives and nonnatives, the national school has clearly failed in its
role as the catalyst for national integration as it is only attended by 2 % of
the Chinese school-going population. Worse still, the preferential educational
policy has created a dual meritocratic carriageway where entrance into choice
university programs is apparently made easier for bumiputeras through the
matriculation track while non-bumiputeras have to take the more challenging
route. The dual meritocratic system is also evident in the sharp dichotomy
that exists in enrolment in public and private HEIs where the former is attended
mainly by bumiputeras and the latter by nonbumiputeras.
Access by Gender Where educational access by gender is concerned, Malaysia has more than achieved gender parity in educational access. The participation of males decreases as they move up the educational ladder until females account for more than 60% of the enrollment in public universities.