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Philosophy Of School Curriculum Structure In Malaysia Education Essay


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According to Orstein Hunkins, philosophy is an important foundation of curriculum because the philosophy advocated or reflected by a particular school and its officials influences its goals or aims and content, as well as the organization of its curriculum. In our drive to study philosophy, it helps us to deal with our personal beliefs and values. It more or less helps us to understand who we are, why we are, and to some extent where we are going.

Philosophy according to Orstein & Hunkins (1988), requires looking beyond the immediate to causes and relationships and to future developments. In the words of William, (1965): cited by Orstein & Hunkins (1988), "our source of direction is found in our guiding philosophy". That is to say, "our philosophy of education influences and to some extent determines our educational decisions, choices and alternatives.

However, philosophy provides educators, most especially curriculum workers and practitioners, with a framework or base for organizing schools and classrooms. The framework relates to the goals of education, content and its organization, the process of teaching and learning, and in general what experiences and activities they wish to stress in schools and classrooms. The importance of philosophy in determining curriculum decisions is articulated by Hopkins L. T (1945): cited by Orstein & Hunkins (1988), "when a state office suggests a pupil-teacher time schedule, this is based upon philosophy, either hidden or consciously formulated. When a course of study is prepared in advance in a school system by selected group of teachers, this represents philosophy because a course of action was selected from many choices involving different values". However, there are several philosophical thoughts or perspectives that shape the education system of various societies and this play a role in development of curriculum.


As highlighted above, there are several perspectives in terms of philosophy of school curriculum. Different perspectives influence the way and type of manner education provided. It also influences people's way of life and thinking. Some of these perspectives are based on cultural differences, views and so forth.


In shaping the ideals of education, different philosophies have emerged in various cultures and regions of the world. According to Aminuddin et. Al. (2011), Western philosophy of education is divided into two schools of thought, traditional and modern. They have their roots in Athens, Rome and Judeo-Christianity. In the other hand, the Eastern philosophy emanated from Islam, Confucianism, Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism. This according to Aminuddin et. al., (2011), as a result influenced their system of life, and certainly creates their education system. This reflects their ways of developing and shaping an individual, in terms of skills and attitudes. Therefore each culture will have different philosophies, which results in different ways of doing things especially in educating the next generation.

The various philosophical thoughts highlighted include perspectives on students' participation in classroom, teaching methodology, and learning approach to name a few (Aminuddin et. al., 2011). For this task only these three perspectives will be discussed.

STUDENTS' PARTICIPATION: In terms of students' participation in classroom, the Westerners stressed more on active learning among their learners. According to Joyce Lin, 2008: cited by Aminuddin et. al., (2011), it encourages students to be more active in giving and sharing the ideas, which is maximizing their role as students than the teacher in creating effective learning and teaching activity. Students are given the opportunity to voice out their views especially when involved in group discussion and present it to the class. Furthermore, students are also given the opportunity to express their ability and solve problems on their own. Problem solving process according to Thornton (1995) becomes one of the aspects of children with regards to their critical mental development.

In the other hand, Easterners prefer passive learning since they normally obtained the knowledge directly from their religious teachings such as Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism and Taoism (Chia Mun Onn, 2009: cited by Aminuddin et. al., 2011). The Eastern education philosophy stressed on the major outcomes from the teachers in the teaching and learning process. Generally, this means that teachers are fully responsible on the class effectiveness, by preparing and planning all activities for the students. As compared to Westerners, students are not encouraged to voice out their own views and perspectives (Aminuddin et. al., 2011). According to Joyce Lin (2008): cited by Aminuddin et. al., 2011, in certain cases, students are not allowed to respond to questions posed by the teacher since they are meant for the teachers to answer.

TEACHING METHODOLOGY: With regards to the teaching process, it can portray how philosophy influences its people through the education system. Generally the teaching method or approach is expected to differ due to differences in cultural beliefs. From the perspectives of the Western education philosophy, students' roles are recognized, by giving the students rights and respects within the teaching and learning process (Aminuddin et. al., 2011). Accordingly, they have the freedom and rights to take charge of their own learning, since they are given the opportunity and freedom to manage their own learning process (Aminuddin et. al., 2011).

In Eastern education philosophy, it holds in the concept of teaching. Students learn and receive knowledge in a rigid way from their teachers. According to Gurney, 2007: cited by Aminuddin et., al. (2011), there is no doubt that a good teacher need to be very hard working in delivering ideas, teaching and maintaining good working relationship with their children.

LEARNING APPROACH: According to Aminuddin et. al., 2011, learning approaches caused the development of various types of students. Westerners believed that the best education is meant to form the society to become a cultural nation in regard of this education and education aim, where the children will be open-minded and tend to give ideas (Kruger, et. al., 1990: cited by Aminuddin et. al., 2011). According to this approach students learn by understanding the concepts and do not memorize. It avails them the opportunity to discuss with their peers and can work independently when assigned to do a research.

In the other hand, in Eastern education the students practiced memorization in the teaching and learning process (Joyce Lin, 2008: cited by Aminuddin et. al., 2011). According to Aminuddin et. al., 2011, the system of education is exam oriented and teachers have to rush through the textbooks to prepare students to sit for tests. Due to time constraints students are compelled to memorize rather than understanding the facts presented.


Looking at the influence of curriculum by philosophical thought, several classification schemes are possible; no superiority is thus claimed for the categories used. These often evolve during curriculum development.

IDEALISM: According to Orstein & Hunkins (1988), Plato is often identified as giving classic formulation to idealist philosophy, one of the oldest that exist. However, the leading contemporary proponent of idealism is J. Donald Butler. According to the idealist, emphasis is placed on moral and spiritual reality as the chief explanation of the world. Truth and values are seen as absolute, timeless and universal. As a primarily intellectual process, learning involves recalling and working with ideas; education is properly concerned with conceptual matters. According to the idealist, at the top of the hierarchy are the most general abstract subjects: Philosophy and theology and lower in curricular ladder are the natural and physical sciences.

REALISM: According to Orstein & Hunkins (1988), Aristotle is often linked to the development of realism, another traditional school of thought. According to the realists, "the world is viewed in terms of objects and matter". Through their senses and reasons people can come to know the world. Everything is derived from nature and is subject to laws. The realists stressed a curriculum consisting of organized, separate subject matter, content and knowledge that classifies objects. For instance, human experiences can be related to history and animals studied under zoology. To realists "teachers are the source of authority". Modern realists include Harry Broudy and John Wild.

PRAGMATISM: Pragmatism according Orstein & Hunkins (1988), is also referred to experimentalism is based on change, process, and relativity. It construes knowledge as a process in which reality is constantly changing. According to pragmatists learning occurs as a person engages in problem-solving; problem-solving is, moreover transferable to a wide variety of subjects and situations. In looking at the interaction between learner and environment, there is constant change, as with the transactions or experiences. Teaching is more exploratory than explanatory. What is needed is a method for dealing with change and scientific investigation in an intelligent manner. The great educational pragmatist is John Dewey, who sees education as a process of improving human condition.

EXISTENTIALISM: in as much as pragmatism is mainly an American philosophy that evolved before the turn of the 20th century, existentialism was mainly a European philosophy that became popular after World War II. Some of the proponents of existentialism in American Education include Maxine Greene, George Kneller, and Van Cleve Morris who stressed that individualism and personal self-fulfillment (Orstein & Hunkins, (1988).

According to existentialists, individuals have to make their choices and decisions. Whatever we choose varies from other individuals. They prefer to free learners to choose what to study and to determine what is true. Furthermore, they stated that the most important kind of knowledge is about the human condition and the choices each person has to make, and that education is a process of developing consciousness about the freedom to choose and the meaning of responsibility to one's choices.


The educational system in Malaysia as in many countries in Asia encompasses education beginning from pre-school to university. Pre-tertiary education (pre-school to secondary) which is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education (MOE) while tertiary or higher education is under the purview of the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). According to the vision of the Government is to make Malaysia a centre of educational excellence.

According to MOE, the administration and management of education in Malaysia is central. However, the Ministry is organized into four levels that is, federal, state, district and school. Furthermore, the district education departments serve only educational functions rather than administrative needs (MOE, 1990)

The education Act 1996 outlines all the levels of education under the education system, which comprise pre-school, primary and secondary education. With reference to section 18 of the Act, it stipulated that the national curriculum be used in all school (Malaysia - curriculum). There is a common central assessment and examinations at the end of the respective periods of schooling and the national language, which is Malay is the official language of instruction (Rahman & Ahmad, 1998).


According to the National Philosophy of Education (NPE), "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 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 a high level of personal well-being, as well as being able to contribute to the betterment of the society and the nation at large".

The fundamental aim of the NEP was to achieve the country's vision to prepare children to become knowledgeable, highly trained and skilled individuals in order to meet the challenges of the millennium. However, it hoped that in order for this to be achieved, emphasis should be made on science and technology, use of information technology, and inculcating good moral and work ethics that is relevant for the Information Age (Rahman & Ahmad, 1998).

Educational activities and programmes are more specifically intended to achieve the following objectives:

'provide pupils with the essential intellectual, affective and psychomotor skills in a holistic and integrated manner to produce individuals who are intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually balanced and functionally literate';

'inculcate and nurture national consciousness through fostering common ideas, values, aspirations and loyalties in order to mould national unity and national identity in a multiethnic society';

'produce manpower with the requisite skills for economic and national development';

'inculcate in pupils desired moral values and to promote personality and aesthetic development as well as the sense of responsible and disciplined, and progressively enabling them to contribute effectively towards nation-building'.

According to the National Education Act 1996, there is no discrimination against any citizen in terms of access to education and financial support for the maintenance of pupils and students in any educational institution. As enshrined in the Federal Constitution, equality and equal rights are fundamental liberties (www.ibe.unesco.org)


The concept of curriculum is elusive and epistemologically ill defined, because of the fact that education is everybody's business, from the lay person to the educational scientists. This compounded with by the mere fact that there is not much agreement on where curriculum matters finish and where the rest of education begins. Curriculum in Latin means a racing chariot; currere was to run (quoted by A. Van. Loggerenberg, 2000).

According to Tyler's (1958) and Taba's (1962) definition, curriculum is defined as a plan for teaching or instruction. Pratt (1945:5) expanded the definition to "a plan for a sustained process of teaching and learning". According to shepherd and Ragan (Orstein and Hunkins, 1998: 9), stated that a curriculum "consists of the ongoing experiences of children under the guidance of the school where children achieve self-realization through active participation within the school". Therefore, the tendency to define curriculum in terms of experience, and merely a plan, arose as a result of the feeling that what was planned in a written document was not necessarily put into practice by means of experiences (Lewy, 1991:27).

In further looking at other various definitions of curriculum, Van Rooy 1996:92: (cited by Van Rooy Loggerenberg, 2000) defined curriculum as "the interrelated totality of aims, learning content, evaluation procedures and teaching-learning activities and opportunities and experiences which guide and implement the didactic activities in a planned and justified manner.


CURRICULUM: refers to the intended learning outcomes, content and subject matter, activity and experiences, and assessment and evaluation, the purpose of which is to enable the achievement of learning goals.

LEARNING OUTCOME: is the measurable performance that student can demonstrate as a result of learning.

EXAMINATION: is a formalized process of evaluation of a student's achievement of theoretical and/or practical learning outcomes.

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT: is the selection and organization of a set of intended learning outcomes (J. Mckimm, 2007).

CURRICULUM ASSESSMENT: is a process of gathering and analyzing information from multiple sources in order to improve student learning in sustainable ways (Wolf, P. et. al., 2006).

CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTATION: entails putting into practice the officially prescribed course of study, syllabuses and subjects (University of Zimbabwe, 1995:8).


Educational philosophy shaped to coordinate in detail how by student curriculum formation unite and form various methods in lesson system and learning. Philosophy of school curriculum is objective to upgrade the education systems for each level of school in Malaysia. Philosophy is also known as references to government which helps them to improve the pupils 'skills and knowledge. Besides, philosophy in education can be one of the elements in teaching methods and how teacher can contribute excellent the learning outcomes and also effective teaching to them. The curriculum of school in Malaysian is one of the phases to upgrade the education system. However, the global were occurred evolution with slowly process, the people's knowledge must be updated through recognizing and initiative to has the education. According to Zamrus A.Rahman and Mokelas Ahmad (1998) says;

"The school curriculum is expected to contribute to the holistic development of the individual (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual) by imparting general knowledge and skills, fostering healthy attitudes and installing accepted moral values. The aim is produce Malaysian citizens who are balanced, trained, skillful, and cherish the national aspiration for unity".

Actually, curriculum at school in Malaysia is performing to improve quality of education and pupils' knowledge indirectly to obtain the aims of the National Education Philosophy (NEP). The NEP has mechanism to implementing the curriculum system towards achieving the nation's vision to enhance pupils' skills and knowledge, other than to train the students to know the situation and importance to society which they has different religion understanding, ethnic and custom.


In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, metaphysics is defined as a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. A person who studies metaphysics is called a metaphysicist or a metaphysician. The metaphysician attempts to clarify the fundamental notions by which people understand the world.)

The word 'metaphysics comes to us from Ancient Greece - meta, meaning higher - beyond earth physics or invisible physics. In other meaning, metaphysics is referred to as a branch of philosophy that deals with first cause (factors contribute the issue) and the nature of being.

Metaphysics has become a description of many field of interest such as philosophy, religion, human science and etc. However, aspects absorption metaphysics in curriculum in school implemented to coordinate learning principle that not only just focus to language field, even student also learn various different subject to achieve Malaysian educational of philosophy. Metaphysics are one of part in principles of students learning and students have options to learn it. For examples;

Science; Physics, Chemistry, Biology

Moral education/ Islamic studies


Mathematics/add mathematics

Information Technology

Technique and Vocational

For example, Moral education subject introduced to coordinate and practiced a moral judgments and moral ethics in their learning. Moral education taught at public and private school focuses on producing citizens of noble character through the appreciation and development of good values in daily life. Metaphysics learning process involved various activities such as, practiced a good behavior, understanding of religion, multi-racial cultural and etc. Moreover, the student can get other benefit such as how to contribute moral and ethics as role-part in all community, other than to improve the personal attitude to them.


The Ministry of Education starts on the Primary School's New Curriculum (KBSR) in 1983, whereas in 1989, the Secondary Schools' Integrated Curriculum (KBSM) was made public. The government was aimed at forming a knowledge and educated community, as well as generating a community that plays a vital part in the development of education country. Their planning is restructuring education curriculum for those institutions and school in Malaysia. Benefits to expose the metaphysic in curriculum system are;

Introduce to produce professionals and skilled - workers in the fields of science and technology.

Develop individuals with morality, discipline and training.

Manipulate living skills like critical thinking, teamwork and problem solving.

Concerned in creating a united nation, integrated in multiracial people in Malaysia.

Interpret as uniting the schoolchildren of various races to provide a workforce geared towards the needs of the economy.

To create a society that would be united, disciplined and well - trained.

To emphasize on producing students with knowledge and good moral values, nurturing balanced individuals who will be able to contribute to the betterment of society and the nation.


The reality in restructuring education curriculum system is emphasis their knowledgeable such as to faced science and technology era. However, the implementation strategies is to make the national language the main medium of instruction like Bahasa Melayu as first instruction in learning and teaching at the primary and secondary school and second language such as English, Mandarin and Tamil can be communicate in other matters. On other than, the National Education Policy requires the development and training of teachers who are eligible as trainers and also the establishment of schools to sustain the increasing enrollment of school - going children.


The national curriculum encourages the integrated unity is ways to unite the pupils through the use of a first method during Penyata Razak (1956) put into practice the use of Malay Language as medium instruction. Then, Malay Language become as provision of core subjects for all students either different race and ethics and emphasize students to pass- compulsory during examination such as UPSR (Ujian Penilain Sekolah Rendah), PMR ( Peperiksaan Menengah Rendah) and SPM (Sijil Peperiksaan Malaysia). Eventually, the cultural diversity of different ethnic groups in Malaysia is conserved through the structuring the National Type School, which are consent to use other major ethnic languages as the medium of instruction like Chinese, Tamil and English languages.

Malaysia's system of curriculum development is federal to implement the mechanism education system to all school at every state. The Ministry of Education through its central agency, specifically the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) has responsible to apply development of the pre-school, primary school and secondary school curriculum. Other authority which has responsible to improve and develop the system of curriculum in various committees is the Ministry of Education, State Education Departments, Division/ District Education Offices and Schools.


The following policy guidelines provide the rationale why school curriculum is essential in shaping the lives and aspiration of the Malaysian people. Laws have been enacted and regulations put in place by government in administering the educational provisions needed. Some of these include the Education Act 1996, Education regulations, and other gazette documents relevant to the education sector.


According to The Education Act 1996, covers all level of education under the national education system, which comprises preschool, primary and secondary education, Section 18 of the ACT stipulates the of the national curriculum to be used in all schools. Specially, section 18 stipulates the following;

The Ministry shall prescribe a curriculum to be known as the National Curriculum which, subject to subsection (3), shall be used by all schools in the National Educational System.

The National Curriculum prescribed under subsection (1) shall specify the knowledge, skills and values that are expected to be acquired by pupils at the end of their respective periods of schooling and shall include are core subjects as set out in the Schedule and such are the subjects as may be prescribed.

In the case of private schools, subsection (1) shall be deemed to have been complied with if the core subjects of the National Curriculum as set out in the Schedule are taught in the schools.

The Minister may from time to time by order published in the Gazette amend or alter the Schedule.


Sharifah Maimunah (1999) says that the Education Regulations is one of the medium to emphasize the curriculum education design on all pupils without seeing their age and knowledge. At the following The Education Regulations present the list of subjects are categorized based on levels of schooling;

Compulsory subjects - that include all subjects other than the core subjects that must be learned by all pupils in government and government -aided schools. If they were failure the subjects, they must be to take again and pass- compulsory.

Core subjects - are subjects that must be learned by all pupils in government and assisted schools and private schools.

Elective subjects - which are subjects other than the compulsory and the core subjects chosen by pupils in government and government - supported schools according to their interests, talents, abilities and potential.

Additional subjects - are subjects taught and strengthening knowledge in accordance with the act in government and government aided schools.

Eventually, the types of subjects will be charging based on the beneficial to all community and has been ability to contribute the good moral and values education to future. Each of subjects has been functions in various perspectives and the implementation has always been characterized by Education Ministry to adapt education to national education policy. Introduction core, elective and additional subjects are one of the part how the government putting ability and mastered to students' knowledge. Other than that, three categorize including in implementation systems KBSM (Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah) for Secondary School and KBSR (Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Rendah) for primary school. In structuring KBSM and KBSR emphasize the teaching and learning (P&P) and efforts the government to develop education systems or method fully - recognizing in every level school.

For Example, Moral education and Islamic education are categorized as core subjects in school. Moral education need to be learned by non- Muslim students and Islamic education for Muslim students. The objective implementing that subject is to understanding conceptual of knowledge via, ethics, moral values and disciplinary matters. The students can also expose to theories and values system that became priority to our society and country.


Under the context of theory of knowledge, epistemology is among the most important areas of philosophy. Which analyses knowledge as justified true belief? However, some justified true beliefs do not constitute knowledge. There are rival analyses of knowledge have been proposed, but yet there is no consensus on what knowledge is. This fundamental question of epistemology remains unsolved. In other words, it is primarily concerned with what we can know about the world and how we can know it. Knowledge is fixed, certain, absolute, predetermined and pre-existing prior to human experience.

Examples of concern in epistemology are:

What is knowledge?

How do we know we know?

Is knowledge given?

From where do we get our knowledge? This is second most important area epistemology. The sources of our knowledge. Two traditions, first is empiricism, which holds that our knowledge is primarily based in experience, and the second is rationalism, which holds that our knowledge is primarily based in reason. Even though the modern scientific world view borrows from empiricism, there are also reasons for thinking that synthesis of the two traditions is truer than either of them individually.

How are our beliefs justified? Another topic in the theory of knowledge, it is important to decide evidence when deciding what to believe, for the reason that by doing so we are more likely to form beliefs that are true. Exactly how this should work, when we are justified in believing something and when we are not. That is the feeling of being certain that something exists or is true.

How do we perceive the world around us? Perception is a complex process, a belief or opinion, often held by many people and based on how things seem .The way we experience the world may be determined in part by the world. It is also determined in part by us. Moreover, we do not passively receive information through our senses. The quality of being aware of things through the physical senses especially sight.


(i). Scientific Knowledge- Consider something of a fact or phenomenon acquired through scientific method. It is knowledge through perception which is inductive not deductive. Scientific knowledge is knowledge through observation and does not arise from planned observation. It is a rapid acquisition and short term prediction. It is about explanations bases on hypothesis, theories, and laws. This scientific knowledge occurs in schools to ensure the students are being prepared from the very start about the scientific perception. In schools, subject like biology, chemistry and physics are taught in formal manners which very closely to scientific methods to expose students about the nature of scientific knowledge. Moreover, students usually have given experiments to conduct in labs with more strict procedures which apply all scientific knowledge to better understanding. Most science subjects in schools deals with hypothesis, theories and laws, this provides a vast understanding of scientific knowledge for students at early age.

To elaborate more science is not only a body of knowledge, but also a way of knowing. Most important for learning science is students' understanding of the nature and structure of scientific knowledge and the process which it is developed. This ensures students' grasp of scientific explanations of the natural world and their ability to successfully engage in scientific investigations.

(ii). Moral Knowledge- Moral principles are more generalized where it is about actions, people, character traits, policies and practices. In moral knowledge is important in terms of rationality and morality were when one makes moral judgment about actions or people by providing reasons supporting them. In schools moral education is being taught to instill good values in students at early age. In today's modern world things change very quickly be it for good or bad. It is important to focus on the trend of social development and educational development, intensify moral education scientific research. Continuously update moral education concept according to reality of the schools and social development changes. In Malaysian schools, government put unconditional effort to bring about better moral education for students. Not only emphasizing on good values but also individual as a person with good behaviors, courtesy and gestures. These values shape students as successful and with good values in future and to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Moral knowledge will enlighten the students in purifying their mind, speech and physical action.

(iii). Religious Knowledge - Religion is a collection of fact and non-fact (faith). Facts, we can, and must teach students. In Malaysian schools, although religious subjects are taught in national schools, the approach, priority and depth are different. There are attempts to revitalize religious studies in national schools by introducing Jawi, Quran and Arabic. Religious knowledge is crucial for all levels of academic in order to continuously educate students and guide then to the right path. Even, in moral education, students are being taught about the religious views as part of exposure for students with different religious background.


(i) Illusion and Hallucination- Seeing something that seems to be there but apparently it is not there at all. There is no power outside or beyond you, because there is nothing beyond you and we are the power and the presence of infinite love, wisdom, creativity, beauty and every other quality you can imagine, plus many more that we can't imagine. There is no power outside of us. Everything we see is an illusion that was created by us to reflect our state of consciousness. In Truth we are the power and presence of infinite consciousness. Teachers, leaders, heroes, guides, saviours and masters are often seen as special beings that possess greater power and knowledge than we do and all this are illusion.

(ii) Memory- The storage with respect to belief and knowledge. Memory is the storage of knowledge that was learned in the past whether it be past events or current information. To summarize human brain stores knowledge. But at given point in time, it seems to be the source of the majority of one's knowledge. For example, unless you are currently discovering new facts about these things, anything you believe that you know about the other side of the world, the solar system, your past or your family is generally accessible only from your memory.

(iii) Reason- A mental capacity of understanding especially I conceptual reflection or in inference. Reason can be considered a source of knowledge, either by deducing truths from existing knowledge, or by learning things a priori, discovering necessary truths (such as mathematical truths) through pure reason. The view that reason is the primary source of knowledge is called rationalism. Reason also is defined as the process of using known facts to arrive at new facts. In this way reason can help us arrive at new facts or new knowledge but only as long as the original facts we put into the process are correct and the process itself is reliable as whole. Moreover, in reasoning, different things play different roles.

(iv)Testimony -Raises the question of importance of testimony from knowledge and justification. Testimony relies on others to acquire knowledge and communicate it to us. Some deny that testimony can be a source of knowledge, and insist that beliefs gained through testimony must be verified in order to be knowledge.


Epistemology states the difference between believing something and knowing something. This is in fact one of the most useful explanations upon which a lot of other things can be derived upon. You can believe something by all means. It doesn't need to be right or wrong. Epistemology may play a role in students' knowledge, reasoning, study strategies, and participation. It can also be a strong indicator for teachers to understand students' behavior and thinking (Hammer & Elby, 2002).

Teachers are able to apply their plans for instruction based on students' levels of epistemology "The role of epistemological beliefs is likely to be subtle, yet ubiquitous. These beliefs are likely to influence how students learn, how teachers instruct, and subsequently, how teachers knowingly or unknowingly modify students' epistemological beliefs."(Schommer-Aikins, 2004) According to Schommer (Schommer-Aikins & Hutter, 2002), "the results coming from epistemological belief research suggest that individuals' beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning are linked to their comprehension, meta comprehension, interpretation of information, and persistence n working on difficult academic tasks".


The problem of values in education is complex, bringing in issues from philosophy, morality, educational evaluation, the nature of school subjects, etc. A review of relevant literature (e.g. Krathwohl et al. 1964, Raths et al. 1966, Fraenkel 1977, Straughan and Wrigley 1980, Bishop 1988, Beck 1990, Halstead 1996) shows that there is little agreement on the definition of the term values as well as on its categorization.

Lim Chap Sam (1997) says the values education is emphasized in the Malaysian curriculum where 'The 16 moral values' are explicitly spelled out in the Moral Education Syllabus. These values were identified from the four main religion and ethnic groups of the country - Malay (Islam), Chinese (Buddhism and Taoism) Indian (Hinduism) and Christians. They are known as Nilai - nilai murni (the pure, ethical or noble values) and include: compassion, self- reliance, humility, respect, love, justice, freedom, courage, physical and mental cleanliness, honesty, diligence, co-operation, moderation, gratitude, rationality and public - spiritedness. The official policy is that these values are to be taught or inculcated indirectly through all school subjects, including mathematics and science.

According to Bishop 1988, Tan 1996 analyzing the data collected, they were find tentatively group the values from these sources at following three categories;

Epistemological values - values involved with the acquisition, assessment and characteristics of mathematical knowledge and in epistemological aspects of the processes of teaching and learning mathematics such as accuracy, systematic and rationality.

Social and cultural values - values which favour or support the social group or society and which concern the individual's duty to society as related to mathematics education.

Personal values - values affecting the individual as a learner and as a person, such as patience, confident and creativity.

Issue of values is complex and flexibility in various aspects such as philosophy, morality, educational evaluation, the nature of schools subjects and etc.


Institution is an established organization or foundation, especially one dedicated to education, public service or culture. In our discussion, institutions signify educational centers or schools where teaching and learning take place. In Malaysia, the education system is divided in various categories and these include preschool, primary school, secondary school and higher education.


Pre - School

It is common practice in most societies to make provision for early-childhood or pre-school education programs of various sorts for children below the official school-going age (usually six years) mainly to prepare them for education in primary schools. Malaysian Pre-School is a school for the education of very young children generally five years of age and younger. These schools seek to prepare young children before enrolling to schools with formal education and they only provide childcare with little educational benefits. Pre-schools which focus on education generally teach early social skills including interpersonal interaction, being a part of a group of peers, and classroom skills such as following the instructions of a teacher (Education Development Plan 2001-2010). Some formal education also takes place, such as early reading or language skills. Some nursery schools have adopted specialized methods of teaching and various other pedagogies.

Primary School

The definition of primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. In Malaysia, the first six years of compulsory formalized education take place in primary schools, and starts at the age of seven and will ends at the age of twelve. The primary school years are considered the most crucial in a child's educational and social development. The Integrated Curiculum for Primary School (ICPS) emphasizes the mastery, reinforcement and application of the 3Rs, acquisition of complex skills and knowledge, pre-vocational education as well as the development of personality, attitudes and values (Sharifah, 1998).

Secondary School

In Malaysia, secondary education lasts for five years, and referred to as Form (Tingkatan) 1 to 5. Form 1 to Form 3 are known as Lower Secondary (Menengah Rendah) which at the end of Form 3 they need to take national exam which called Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR), while Form 4 and 5 are known as Upper Secondary (Menengah Atas) and at the end of the upper secondary school the pupils will take another national exam called Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). Most students who had completed primary education are admitted to Form 1. As in primary schools, students are promoted to the next year regardless of their academic performance. Public secondary education in Malaysia is provided by National Secondary Schools (Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan, SMK). National Secondary Schools use Malay as the main medium of instruction. English is a compulsory subject in all schools. Since 2003, Science and Mathematics had been taught in English; however in 2009 the government decided to revert back to using Malay starting in 2012.

Higher Education

Higher education is an educational level that follows the completion of a school providing a secondary education, such as a high school or secondary school. This tertiary education is normally taken to include undergraduate and postgraduate education, as well as vocational education and training (Polytechnic). Universities, colleges and vocational institute (Polytechnic) are the main institutions that provide tertiary education in Malaysia. Higher education includes teaching, research, exacting applied work for example medical schools and dental schools, and social services activities of universities. Within the realm of teaching, it includes both the undergraduate level, and beyond that, graduate-level (or postgraduate level). The latter level of education is often referred to as graduate school.


(i) Pre School

There are 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 are formal preschool curriculum which had been established by Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia but some of the agencies don't follow the structure and they have their own orientations and methods except a formal mandatory training and certification for principals and teachers before they may operate a preschool (Education Development Plan 2001-2010). The training covers lessons on child psychology, teaching methodologies, and other related curricula on childcare and development. Some agencies prefer to orientate to academic aspect and some prefer to orientate to socialization.

(ii) Primary and Secondary School

There are not much difference between primary school and secondary school, where it just have difference in terms of the level of teaching and learning and the subjects the students need to accomplished. The primary objective that the ministry had set is for the curriculum to contribute to the holistic development of the individual (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual) by imparting general knowledge and skills, fostering healthy attitudes and instilling accepted moral values. The aim is to produce the students to be Malaysian citizens who are balanced, trained, skillful and cherish the national aspiration for unity.

(iii) Higher Education

For higher education in Malaysia, it can be simplify as the education that been teach after the pupils end their secondary school. Unlike primary and secondary school, higher education consists of community college, polytechnic and universities; and these three generally different. Education at community college is more to training for skills and unlikely education in polytechnics are more to training for semi-professional level. But, in university level the level is different because the education brings the students to get diploma and degree a level higher than community college and polytechnics. Tertiary education is the primary source in the development of human resource, educated and skilful people to fulfil the needs of the nation to achieve the vision.


Zamrus and Mokelas (1998) said the underlying theoretical principle of national curriculum formulation is that of general education, using an integrated approach in curriculum planning. The curriculum comprises content and skills, with emphasis on the development of basic skills, the acquisition of knowledge and thinking skills. Each subject must also incorporate the inculcation of moral values and attitudes and the correct use of Malay and other languages, such as English, Chinese and Tamil. In designing the Integrated Curriculum for Primary School and Integrated Curriculum for Secondary School, the main focus is the integrated approach. That's why the elements of knowledge, skills and values are incorporated so as to bring the integrated development of the intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of the individual.

At the diagram, we can see the government is always updating the curriculum of the school and the elements in it to make sure the students have more knowledge and skills and benefits them in near future. In The National Philosophy of Education stated that education in Malaysia is an ongoing 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 harmonic, based on a firm belief in and devotion to God. Thus, careful planning is necessary to insure the implementation of the curriculum itself.


1. Educational Planning Committee. (Secretariat: Educational Planning and Research Division, Ministry of Education.) Functions:

to approve and formulate the major policies in the Ministry of Education;

to consider all projects related to policy matters.

2. Central Curriculum Committee. (Secretariat: Central Curriculum Committee, Ministry of Education.) Functions:

to formulate curriculum policies, as well as study their implications;

to determine the direction of curriculum development and co-ordinate efforts to achieve this goal;

to consider and make recommendations concerning education planning and implementation, as well as to present these findings to the Educational Planning Committee;

to study the implications of curriculum programmes and to make decisions accordingly;

to determine aspects which require research and study.

3. Curriculum Implementation Committee. (Secretariat: Central Curriculum Committee, Ministry of Education.) Functions:

responsible for co-ordinating all levels of preparation in implementing any curriculum programmes approved by the Central Curriculum Committee;

to ensure co-ordination between the divisions of the Ministry and the State Education Departments in the implementation of the curriculum;

to gather feedback on curriculum implementation at the State, division/district and school levels;

to organize forums to discuss successful innovative programmes implemented at the State level.

4. State Curriculum Committee. Functions:

to monitor, assess and guide principals, headmasters and teachers in the implementation of the curriculum;

to gather and analyze information and take the necessary follow-up action;

to co-ordinate the implementation of activities between policy makers and implementers at the Ministry, division/district and school levels;

to co-ordinate the use of resources for curriculum implementation;

to plan, manage and co-ordinate courses organized for teachers by the State Education Department;

to plan, manage and implement innovative projects;

to improve professionalism among teachers.

5. Division/District Curriculum Committee. Functions:

to plan activities and curriculum implementation strategies at division/district levels;

to arrange and organize courses and seminars to disseminate the latest information to teachers and all personnel concerned;

to advise and guide teachers in curriculum implementation;

to monitor, supervise and evaluate the implementation of the curriculum;

to provide feedback to the higher authorities on the implementation of the curriculum;

to plan, manage and implement innovative projects at the division/district levels.

6. School Curriculum Committee. Functions:

to plan, organize and evaluate teaching/learning activities in schools;

to work towards increasing the knowledge and competence of teachers and students;

to study the suitability of the subject content and inform parties concerned;

to study, evaluate and determine the suitability of textbooks or other materials;

to assess the scheme of work;

to assess pupil performance and to identify follow-up action;

to plan and conduct in-house training programmes for all teachers;

to disseminate information to all teachers on the latest progress and development in education;

to produce more educational resource materials in schools;

to identify suitability of educational electronic media programmes in teaching-learning activities;


The importance of curriculum development and its implementation in any given country most especially in Malaysia cannot be overemphasized. Concerted effort by both the government and stakeholders in the educator sector invest huge resources and time to ensure the realization country's goals. In every process though there are bound to be successes and constraints. This calls for mapping out strategies that show the strengths and weaknesses of the process and design mechanisms to address the shortcomings.

4.1 Strength of curriculum development in Malaysia

Curriculum plays a main role in education of Malaysia. As we know, the strength of curriculum development in Malaysia is collective and encourages students in participation of decision making in classroom. The curriculum design and development are plays a main role in planning, developing, and evaluating of the latest curriculum which is implementing in all schools Malaysia. They have to co-operation and contribute the planning and designing curriculum. The participation is ensured the current curriculum plan would be coordinated and developed.

In 2010, Ministry of Education issued a circular on the implementation of new Standard Curriculum for Primary School (KSSR) in stage/phase (grade 1-3). KSSR are started on 2011, this curriculum builds on and improved the Integrated Curriculum for Primary School (KBSR). (UNESCO, 2010/11) KSSR are contain content and learning standards that describe the knowledge, skills and understandings that pupils need to demonstrate as they progress through the different stages of schooling. The standards specify the knowledge and skills that pupils need to demonstrate as they talk, listen, read and write in English and Malay.

When pupils engage the learning experiences as described in this curriculum, they will develop the ability to speak, listen, read and write in meaningfully, purposefully and with confidence. The approach taken in this syllabus stresses the need for pupils to develop all four language skill: listening and speaking, reading, writing. Pupils will for example learn how interact with peers, listen attentively, express themselves orally or in writing with confidence, read with comprehension and write with minimal grammatical errors in the language arts module, pupils are trained to show appreciation of and demonstrate understanding of texts read, sing song, recite rhymes and poems as well as produce creative works for enjoyment.

English is second language of all Malaysian except their own mother tongue in primary and secondary schools. All pupils are essential and compulsory to gain access the information and knowledge by written in English. Ministry of Education are planned a policy on strengthening English, the curriculum has been designed to produce pupils who will be proficient in the language. The curriculum goal is want to ensure the students would exposure and acquire the language in order to help them use it in their daily lives and future.

According with Ministry of Education, The Standard-Based English Language Curriculum for Malaysian Primary Schools is designed to provide primary school students with a strong foundation in the English language. To build a strong foundation for students, qualifications of teachers are very important to improve students' English level. So, teacher should use Standard British English as a reference and model in their teaching. It should be used as a reference in terms of spelling and grammar as well as pronunciation for standardization.

From this current curriculum, it is show that pupils should be able in their 6 years primary school life, which are communicate with peers and adults confidently and appropriately in formal and informal situations; read and comprehend a range of English texts for information and enjoyment; write a range of texts using appropriate language, style and form through a variety of media; appreciate and demonstrate understanding of English language literary or creative works for enjoyment; and use correct and appropriate rules of grammar in speech and writing.(KPM, 2010, page 4)

There are some approach adapted in the Standard-based curriculum is underpinned by the following principles: First of the approach, it is also the important reason which is let the students back to basics. It is important for teachers in their teaching which to build a strong foundation of language skills. Teachers have to introduce and exposure the basic language and grammar to pupils and increase their interested in English language. Second is time of learning is fun, meaningful and purposeful. English lesson should be more fun and creative teaching to pupils. It would allow pupils to learn the English language, meaning and language skill. Teachers have to do some creative and funny activities to provide the language skill to them. The creative activity will lead pupils fully attention on the teaching.

Third is teaching should be learner-centered. Different needs and level of pupils are requiring different types of teaching in learning. Teachers need to suit the different teaching skill to pupils which can approach pupils to learn. So teachers are needed to do some preparation and material before going to English class. The teaching strategy will make sure the pupils to approve their English skill and knowledge. The last is assessment for learning. Continuous assessment is an integral part of learning which enables teachers to assess whether pupils have acquired the learning standards taught. The formative and summative assessments will be used to gain the pupils performance in learning English.

The current curriculum structure and will be implementation on coming years which is School-based Assessment (SBA). According to SBA purpose, this is a process of monitoring, evaluating and implementing plans to finding the strength, weakness, opportunities and treats of the school. Minister and educator are looking for SBA as an education transformation and reformation. It is because this curriculum would be replacing the public examination of UPSR and PMR in coming year. So, this new curriculum structure will be implementation at all primary and secondary schools in Malaysia. SBA curriculum is implementing based on academic component and non-academic component.

This new curriculum SBA is starting to approach in all secondary schools in Malaysia. We know that SBA has adopted coursework and paper work for a few subjects in secondary schools such as History, Geography, Living Skills and Islamic Education for the lower secondary classes and Biology, Chemistry and Physics for the upper secondary classes. Start from 2003, school-based oral assessment for Bahasa Malaysia and English Language are still as compulsory subjects for SPM candidates. It gives all educators, parents, students and the community to improve the school teaching and learning practices. By transferring SBA decisions to schools, Educators will empower in helping students perform better in SBA and observation the learning level of all students.

According to SBA, teachers have to observe all the students and marking based on students' attitude, learning level and interesting on certain subjects. First, teachers will choose the standard curriculum and subjects that will teach in class. Teachers have to plan and do preparation on every classes and materials to effective the SBA marking. Teachers will do observation on each student and record their performance in every class. The report should be preparing based on the evidence. So teachers could observe all the students and try to increase students' interesting of every subject. So teacher could be more high effective and high quality in their teaching. Students would also become more interesting and concentrate in their learning and make the high quality in their learning and acquiring.

Weakness of Curriculum development in Malaysia

Ministry of Education is restructure the primary school curriculum from Integrated Curriculum for Primary School (KBSR) to Curriculum for Primary School (KSSR) and started on 2011. Besides, secondary schools also restructure the curriculum from KBSM to KSSM. This restructure program in curriculum are improved the education system in Malaysia. But, there are bring up the weakness of the curriculum in Malaysia. We will talk about the weakness of curriculum. There are three factors that will be the weakness of curriculum in Malaysia.

According KPPK, the statement of standards comprise of content standards and learning standards which need to be achieved by a student in a specific period and level of schooling. The Content and Learning standards are defined as Contents Standards are specific statements on what the students must know and can do, within a specific period of schooling, covering the areas of knowledge, skills and values. Second, Learning Standards are set criteria or indicators of education quality and achievements which can be measured for each content standard.

The restructure and changing curriculum in short period are brings that teachers cannot to be adapt with new curriculum. That is because of they can't handle all the curriculum and syllabus in a short period. Teachers are trying to handle and understanding the curriculum, but they are not much time for doing preparation in their teaching. So, teachers would not able to achieve the goals and aims from curriculum. When the new curriculum is planned and develop, teachers are felt stressful because they would not able to handle and get further information from Ministry of Education.

Second, teachers are facing a main problem which is lack of training and courses about the current curriculum. Ministry are not able to arrange the briefing and additional information to all teachers. Furthermore, there are lacks of information for teachers to search and find out the answer of the problem. Teachers need to carry out all the curriculum and transfer the knowledge to pupils without any further information and knowledge with the curriculum.

Beside of teachers' factor, the pupils' factors also bring up the weakness of curriculum of Malaysia. Pupils are lack of interest in such subjects, for example of the Standard-Based English Language Curriculum. Pupils are not willing to learn more about the other language from their mother tongue. From this curriculum, teachers will provide another teaching skill likes creative teaching skill and provide more English communication in class. It may be a reason that pupils cannot accept and adapt the teaching skill and new syllabus.

Last is school factor. We can be finding out the problem from school culture. For example the school culture does not encourage pupils in reading. So pupils cannot reach on the goals of KSSR which is improving the pupils reading skill. School culture are important in ensure the curriculum can be apply in the certain school. Besides that, principal of school is play a main role in encourage the curriculum move forward and apply to pupils and teachers. We can imagine that if principal does not fully support and apply the latest curriculum, the curriculum would not be fully utilized and benefits to all pupils in Malaysia.

In fact, we have to know about the truth that if teachers possess low levels of knowledge in SBA assessment, it would nor able to help students to improve their learning and acquiring knowledge from the teaching. So, it will lead the teachers feel frustrated and consequently might not present a good and efficiency teaching and assessment in SBA. If efforts are not made to investigate and to improve the best practices of teachers in SBA, the noble aspirations that the Education Ministry hopes to achieve with the implementation of the SBAs may not be fulfilled. According to Rohizani Yaakub & Norlida Ahmad (2003), improving best practices of teachers in testing and assessment should be an important objective in order to improve the levels of their teachers' knowledge in SBA.


To improve with the curriculum and education system in Malaysia, curriculum reports not more like statements, but it should be a specific curriculum report. After implementation of latest curriculum, Ministry of Education should be release reports to the public on the steps taken and what have been implemented and achieved. The review is very important for curriculum development to increase the quality of Malaysia education system, so that can do the best and be more competitive in global race.

Teachers are important person who implementing of the curriculum. Teachers are under the ministry's system are currently appointed by the Education Services Commission. It is intended to improve the quality of teachers and ministry should be give more training and courses to them. So teachers can be exposure with the curriculum knowledge and information. Ministry need to solve the teachers shortage problem, because these shortage always be an issue. If the shortage gap is quite big, it will be a problem in implementation of curriculum.

SBA is a good assessment of current curriculum in Malaysia structure. But it is because many of teachers are haven't receive and attend any training course for those assessment implement. So Ministry of Education should provide and lead the teachers would accept this new and reform education plan. B

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