The Development of Education Policy in Malaysia

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Towards the end of British colonialism era, a movement was created by the society including several group of educated Malay in restoring our colonial education system. The first Minister of Education and the second Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak led a special committee to make some recommendations. This comprehensive proposal was known as Razak's Report 1956 that was to create a national education system to uphold the cultural, social, economic and political development such as make the Malay language to be the national language and primary mode of instruction in the system.

To establish Education Ordinance 1957, the idea of the Razak's Report became the basic feature. Besides, the government of Malaysia started to create several progressive changes especially of the curriculum in order to endeavour the Malaysian outlook. In 1960, a new special committee was recruited to create the Rahman Talib's report in order to review and analyze the education policy which then became the basic feature in the establishment of the Education Act 1961. The national language was made compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools and in all training institutions by the Education Act 1961. This act also provide that a satisfactory grade must be achieved by the students in order to receive the certificate for public education examination particularly for the lower and upper secondary levels. Mahathir's Report which was chaired by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, who was the Education Minister at that time (later become the Prime Minister since 1981) was provided in 1979 by a special committee which after a six-year study, was then finalized. This report achieves national unity in a multiethnic society, enhancing the patriotic spirit, and generates skilled manpower for the development of nation in order to inspire a balance in every single aspects of education between rural and urban areas. In recent years, the guidelines in reforming the education system has been based on this report.

Major changes in Education Policy of Malaysia

As mentioned in the 46th ICE country report these regulatory frameworks were formulated and revised in line with the government policy of democratization of education. Five of the acts, namely The Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996, The National Council on Higher Education Act 1996, The National Accreditation Board Act 1996, The Universities and University Colleges (Amendment) Act, 1996 and The National Higher education Fund Board Act 1997.

The education Act 1996 has some major changes in its regulation for the primary and secondary education has been reviewed for amendment by the Ministry of Education. The implementation of compulsory education at primary school level is the main purpose of reviewing this act. The Education Act 1996 was amended again in 2002 and 2003. This policy makes sure that every child in Malaysia beginning at age 6, regardless of sex, social and economic background, and residential locality has the right to primary education.

For example, the delivery of mathematics and science subjects has always been in the National Language (Malay) called MBMMBI (Policy for Upholding the Malay Language, Strengthening the Command of English) in Malaysia. However, English language was made the medium of instruction for both of these subjects in 2002. Based on the rationale, a good command of English would enable students to access the internet and read articles published in English. However, the teaching and learning of science and mathematics which reverts to Malay language in national schools will become effective soon. The implementation of this latest policy of using teaching the two subjects in Malay language in Year One and Year Four in the primary school and Form one and Form Four in the secondary school shall start in 2012. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, also the Education Minister said these two subjects in Chinese and Tamil national-type schools would be carried out in mother tongue respectively. Then, the cabinet today approved by empowering the Malay language and strengthening the teaching and learning of the English language at all levels of schooling. However, this change would not affect Form Six and matriculation students. Furthermore, another policy comes out with history will be a must- pass subject in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination from 2013 along with the Bahasa Malaysia subject to enlighten the understanding of Constitution on nation- building process of our country.

The Development of Education Policy in the United Kingdom

In the year of 1870, elementary education fully paid by the government was introduced in England. After the elementary education stage, 80% of the students left school, which after 1918 finished at 14. Free secondary education was introduced in the 1944 Education Act. From here we can see that the UK education policy maker has a different aim.

The main overall principle approach was pursuance of equality. Non-selective or 'comprehensive' schools were introduced progressively. However, in 1960, the comprehensive education became the policy of the government. These comprehensive educations can help to improve the prospects of children of average ability by reducing the discrimination or disadvantage on the basis of class. With the idea of equality and opportunity, the selective system becomes more dependable. Comparing to students that go to comprehensive schools, the working class students that went to grammar schools did much better in their education.

Market Reforms

In the 1980s and 1990s, successive Conservative governments increased the pace of reform and introduced so called "market mechanisms". This mechanism in the UK education system can force schools to raise their standards. The 1988 Education Reform Act notices about a 'quasi-market' in education which introduced the market reforms and also the National Curriculum described in Section 3. Thus, there were widespread fear about poor and falling standard in education of UK about the concerns on widening access and educational in equality in 1980's since too many individuals leaving school too early with little basic skills.

The aim of the package of market-oriented reforms is increasing parental choice and improving the accountability of state funded schools. Parents could choose which school their child attended. Regard to student enrolment numbers to give schools the incentive to attract and admit more students, school funding became more closely to be linked. Some schools could take control of their own budgets or directly from central government which is opposed to being under local government control.

Curriculum Reform

UK introduced two other significant national policies to tackle the problem of poor literacy and numeracy. Firstly, in the late 1980s a standardized national curriculum was introduced for pupils aged between 7 and 16. The aim was to raise standards by ensuring that all students study a prescribed set of subjects up to a minimum level until the age of 16. The second policy reform, in 1998, was e National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies that involve all primary schools to allocate part of the daily curriculum to literacy so the pupils' basic skills are developed.

For the attempts to raise participation in post-compulsory schooling in the UK, there are two major policies. The first is the perennial (and often ineffectual) attempts at qualification reform, which enhances the attractiveness and labour market value of vocational qualifications. Moreover, the second policy was Education Maintenance Allowance, which paid a small means-tested allowance to individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds since they stayed on in full time education beyond the age of 16. As school leavers went on to undertake part-time high quality vocational training, so it resulted in well-respected qualifications with high value in the labour market.


Almost every day, education is a subject that is often discussed by people almost that it can affect the life of a wide range of population. People of the age ranging from 4 to 80 are said to be obtaining education at anywhere and anytime. Therefore, education policy plays a vital role in providing a good teaching and learning environment to these people. The education policies mentioned above has been changed leads to the existence of E-learning such as the Malaysia Smart School (SSP) project, which is an important flagship in Malaysia's multimedia Super Corridor ICT Application and encourages the development of teaching and learning process. The Ministry of Education intended to make ICT to enhance teaching and learning, distance learning, video conferencing and Internet-links leading the government to pay extra attention on the maintenance or improvement of the standard in education.