Education in Malaysia
Education in Malaysia is overseen by the Ministry of Education (Kementerian Pelajaran) and Ministry of Higher Education (Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi). Ministry of Education oversee all matters pertaining to pre-school, primary school, secondary school and post-secondary school while Ministry of Higher Education will look into tertiary education.
The school year in Malaysia is divided into two semesters. The first begins in the beginning of January and ends in June; the second begins in July and ends in December. You can see the example of school calendar (takwim takwim) in our earlier post.
The education in Malaysia is divided into few categories :
- Preschool education
- Primary education
- Secondary education
- Post-secondary education
- Tertiary education
Education in Malaysia : Preschool education
Schooling in Malaysia can start when the child turns 5 years old and most of the parents will send their 3-6 years old kid for kindergarten.
At this level (preschool education) there is no standard syllabus however the government control it via training that they imposed to preschool operator and this covers lesson on child psychology, teaching methodologies, and other related curricula on childcare and development.
|Preschool Education Grades
|Level / Grade||Age|
||3 – 4|
||4 – 6|
Education in Malaysia : Primary education
At age of 7, Primary education will start in Malaysia and will lasts for six years from Year 1 to 6. Students will be promoted to the next level automatically every year irrespective of their examination result.
Penilaian Tahap Satu (PTS) / Level One Evaluation
At year 3, students will sit for PTS and excellence is allowed to skip Year 4 and attend Year 5 instead. However, the test was removed from 2001 onwards.
Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah, (UPSR) / Primary School Achievement Test
The final test before year 6 students enter Secondary education is UPSR. In the UPSR examination they will be tested on 5 subjetcs i.e Malay comprehension, written Malay, English, Science and Mathematics.
For students from Chinese / Tamil schools they are required to sit for Chinese comprehension and written Chinese and Tamil comprehension and written Tamil respectively.
|Primary Education School Grades
|Level / Grades||Age|
What Next After UPSR ? Read our previous post on this.
Education in Malaysia : Secondary education
After UPSR, all students will then continue to secondary school at Form 1 (Tingkatan 1). Public secondary education in Malaysia is provided by National Secondary Schools (Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan, SMK) and they use Bahasa Malaysia as the main medium of instruction.
Secondary education lasts for five years, referred to as Form (Tingkatan) 1 to 5 and the is further brekadown as follows :
- Form 1 to Form 3 are known as Lower Secondary (Menengah Rendah),
- Form 4 and 5 are known as Upper Secondary (Menengah Atas).
|Secondary Education School Grades
|Level / Grades||Age|
|Tingkatan 6 (Bawah)
|Tingkatan 6 (Atas)
Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR)
At Tingkatan 3, all students will sit for Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR). The result of PMR is important to determine their future course in Tingkatan 4either Science stream or Arts.
What Next After PMR ? Read our previous post on this.
Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) / Malaysian Certificate of Education
The final examination at Secondary Education is know as Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia. The SPM was based on the old British ‘School Certificate’ examination before it became General Certificate of Education ‘O’ Levels examination, which became the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education).
Type of School available
- Sekolah Menengah
- Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan (Tamil/ Chinese School)
- Religious Secondary School (Sekolah Menengah Agama),
- Technical Schools (Sekolah Menengah Teknik),
- MARA Junior Science College (Maktab Rendah Sains MARA)
- Sekolah Berasrama Penuh (SBP)
What Next After SPM ? Read our previous post on this.
Education in Malaysia : Post-Secondary education
After SPM, students will have few options to pursue their studies. In general the options are :
- Form 6 – Students from public secondary school would have a choice of either studying Form 6. If they are accepted to continue studying in Form 6, they will also take the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) / Malaysian Higher School Certificate examination (its British equivalent is the General Certificate of Education ‘A’ Levels examination or internationally, the Higher School Certificate).
- Matriculation – the matriculation certificate is only valid for universities in Malaysia. This matriculation is a one or two-year programme run by the Ministry of Education.
- International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme
- Canadian Matriculation programme
- Australian Foundation Programme
Education in Malaysia : Tertiary education
Students who have completed STPM / Matriculation programme will then have opportunities to pursue studies at institution of higher learning. The bachelor degree programme in Malaysia will take 3-4 years to complete.
Few options that students can choose are :
- Public Universities / Institut Pengajian Tinggi Awam (IPTA)
- Public University College
- Private Universities / Private University College
- Private College
- Vocational programmes and polytechnics
- Foreign University Branch Campus
A body that control the accreditation of private universities/college in Malaysia is Malaysia Qualification Agency (MQA).
Relevant website for you to study in Malaysia :
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