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Education
 
 
 

General

Education in Malaysia is overseen by two government ministries. The Ministry of Education (Kementerian Pelajaran) handles matters pertaining to pre-school, primary school, secondary school and post-secondary school. Matters regarding tertiary education are dealt with by the Ministry of Higher Education (Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi). Although education is the responsibility of the federal government, each state has an Education Department to coordinate educational matters in its territory. The main legislation governing education is the Education Act of 1996.

Education may be obtained from the multilingual public school system, which provide free education for all Malaysians, or private schools, or through home-schooling. By law, primary education is compulsory. As in many Asia Pacific countries such as the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Japan, standardised tests are a common feature.

Preschool Level

There is no fixed rules on when a child needs to start preschool education but majority would start when the child turns 5 years old. Schooling can begin earlier, from 3-6, in kindergarten. Preschool education usually lasts for 2 years, before they proceed to primary school at age 7. There is no formal preschool curriculum except a formal mandatory training and certification for principals and teachers before they may operate a preschool. The training covers lessons on child psychology, teaching methodologies, and other related curricula on childcare and development.

Preschool education is mainly provided by private for-profit preschools, though some are run by the government or religious groups. Some primary schools have attached preschool sections. Attendance in a preschool programme is not universal; while people living in urban areas are generally able to send their children to private kindergartens, few do in rural areas. Many preschools are located in high density residential areas, where normal residential units compliant to regulations are converted into the schools.

Primary Level

Primary education in Malaysia begins at age seven and lasts for six years, referred to as Year (Tahun) 1 to 6; also known as Standard (Darjah) 1 to 6. Year 1 to Year 3 are classified as Level One (Tahap Satu) while Year 4 to Year 6 are considered as Level Two (Tahap Dua). Students are promoted to the next year regardless of their academic performance. Before progressing to secondary education, Year 6 pupils sit for the Primary School Achievement Test (Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah, UPSR).

Public primary schools are divided into two categories based on the medium of instruction:

• Malay-medium National Schools (Sekolah Kebangsaan, SK);
• non-Malay-medium National-type Schools (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan, SJK), also known as "vernacular schools", further divided into:
• National-type School (Chinese) (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Cina), SJK(C)), Mandarin-medium and simplified Chinese writing,
• National-type School (Tamil) (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Tamil), SJK (T)), Tamil-medium.

All schools admit students regardless of racial and language background.

Malay and English are compulsory subjects in all schools. All schools use the same syllabus for non-language subjects regardless of the medium of instruction. The teaching of the Chinese language is compulsory in SJK(C), and Tamil language is compulsory in SJK(T). Additionally, a National School must provide the teaching of Chinese or Tamil language, as well as indigenous languages wherever practical, if the parents of at least 15 pupils in the school request that the particular language to be taught.


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