xpanding access and improving the quality of education at all levels has been acontinuing national development objective throughout Malaysia’s sequence of five-year development plans. Thus the First Malaysia Plan, 1966-1970, stated that‘unless the educational system is geared to meet the development needs of the country,there will be a misallocation of an important economic resource, which will slow down therate of economic and social advance.’Upgrading the national education system and broadening educational opportunitieshave been a central part of the government’s strategy to foster national unity and supporteconomic growth. It has also been a strategy to help reduce poverty and expandopportunities and choices for both girls and boys. Government efforts have beensupported at the family level by parents who have perceived education as an opportunityfor providing upward mobility and a better life for their children.The government’s commitment to education, as a prime contributor to nationaldevelopment, is evidenced by the continuous and large capital investments in educationalinfrastructure and supported by substantial recurrent expenditures in the period since1970. Educational expenditure averaged some 17 per cent of total public expenditure, and5 per cent of the ever-growing GDP over the period 1970–2000.The MDG target is to ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike,will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling (Box 2.1). Malaysia had alreadyachieved this target in 1990 when 99 per cent of boys and girls were enrolled, 97 per centof whom completed primary 5. At the same time as it has made tremendous progress inproviding universal primary education, Malaysia has implemented programmes to meetchallenges with respect to educational quality, curriculum relevance and the promotion ofpre-school education. This chapter first describes the key trends in indicators ofeducational progress, and then goes on to discuss the enabling environment, theresources-financial and infrastructure, and specific programmes implemented, insightsgained, and future challenges.
MALAYSIA Achieving the Millennium Development Goals
hree related population-based indicators are used toassess progress towards the MDG of universalprimary education.Thenet enrolment ratio in primary educationis the ratio of the number of children of primary school age to the totalpopulation of children of primary school age. Net enrolmentratios below 100 per cent may provide a measure of theproportion of school-age children who are not enrolled atprimary level.Theproportion of pupils completing year five, is thepercentage of a cohort of pupils enrolled in primary 1 at theprimary level of education in a given school year and who goon to complete year five. This indicator measures theeducation system’s internal efficiency and success inretaining students from one grade to the next.Theliteracy rate of 15–24 year oldsis the percentage ofpopulation aged 15–24 who can read and write, withunderstanding, short simple statement on everyday life. Thisyouth literacy rate reflects the outcome of primary educationover the previous 10 years. As a measure of the effectivenessof the primary education system, it is often taken as a proxymeasure of social progress and economic achievement.