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Chhaapptteerr 99:: C

When you complete this module will be able to:

Describe the education system during the colonial period

Explain how the Razak and Rahman Talib laid the foundation of
Malaysias education system
List the features of the Malaysias philosophy of education
Describe the curriculum development process

9.0 Introduction
9.1 Curriculum during the colonial
The Cheesman Plan
The Barnes Report
The Fenn-Wu Report
9.2 Curriculum initiatives after
The Razak Report
The Rahman Talib
The Cabinet Commission
on Education

9.3 Curriculum Reform

Integrated Primary School
Integrated Secondary
School Curriculum
Teaching Methods
The Education Bill, 1995
9.4 Curriculum development
process in Malaysia
Discussion Questions

9.0 Introduction
Malaysia with a population of over 26 million people, has about 5 million
students in primary and secondary schools. Education under the control of the
Ministry of Education (MOE) is responsible for the development of primary and
secondary education in the country. Of late, administration and development of
tertiary education has been taken over by the Ministry of Higher Education. Primary
education is for a period of six years; aimed at providing a foundation in reading,
writing and arithmetic (3Rs). At the end of the six years, students sit for The Primary
School Assessment Test (UPSR). All students continue to secondary education which

is divided into three main levels: lower secondary level, upper secondary level and
pre-university level.
Lower secondary education in Malaysia prepares students to develop skills
needed in life and to be useful citizens of the country. After completing the third year,
students are required to take the Lower Secondary Assessment (PMR). Performance
in this examination will determine their academic streaming in upper secondary i.e.
whether to be in the science, arts, technical or vocational streams. At the end of the
two-year period in upper secondary education, students are assessed by a compulsory
national examination called the Malaysian Certificate of Examination (SPM) or
Malaysian Vocational Certificate of Examination (SPVM) as in the case of the
vocational stream.
After which students will proceed for two more years (or less) of Form 6,
Matriculation or Foundation Studies before gaining entry into public tertiary
institutions. Others might continue with pre-university studies or foundation courses
before entering private tertiary institutions. Others might continue to pursue diploma
or certificate courses or undergo advance skills training in selected training centres or
join teacher training colleges. Still others will join the work force and some may be
trained on the job.
9.1 Curriculum During the Colonial Period
During British rule, the policy of divide and rule was implemented through an
education system designed to create a divided population. The Malays were only
given six years of primary education. Three objectives were defined for Malay
education (1) to familiarize Malay boys with simple arithmetic to handle small
business transactions, (2) to develop better a sense of hygiene, and (3) to train the
sons of the Malay aristocracy in English to serve the colonial masters.
In 1896 in Perak, the 88 Malay schools succeeded in producing
118 clerks and orderlies, 2070 padi farmers, 2177 small traders
and labourers, and 1000 other types of workers.
- Education Report for 1896 in Perak Annual Report
The Indians were also given six years of elementary education, and expected
to provide labor for the rubber plantations and railways. This was a deliberate policy
to deny them both economic and geographical mobility. The Chinese, on the other
hand, were allowed to establish their own schools and use curricula, teachers and
textbooks from China, as the British colonial government did not consider it their
obligation to provide education to a transient or temporary population..
The colonial government, however, established English schools to supply
sufficient manpower for the British administrative machinery. These schools were
mainly located in urban areas. For example, in 1896 there were 9 English schools in
the main town of Perak. Most of the students in these schools were Chinese and
Indians with only about 15% Malays. Thus, education system divided the population
of Malaysia for a hundred years or so.
The Cheesman Plan (1946)
After the Second World War, a new education policy called the Cheeseman
Plan (1946) introduced free primary education in all languages. The plan advocated

the use of the four different languages as medium of instruction in secondary schools.
The teaching of 'mother tongues' was to be made available in the English schools, and
at the same time the teaching of English was to be made compulsory in all vernacular
schools. The new policy of parallel bilingualism paid no attention toward integrating
the people. However, the policy was abandoned in 1949 with the demise of the
Malayan Union.
The Barnes Report (1951)
Realising the plight of Malay schools, a committee composed of 8 Malays
and 5 English members was established in 1951 to study Malay education and headed
by Dr. Barnes, a social scientist from Oxford University. They were trusted with the
task studying the resources, facilities and opportunities for Malaya education. The
Barnes' Committee was unable to propose improvement in Malay schools without
involving the whole system of education. As such, the Barnes' Report (1951) made a
radical recommendation that all existing schools should be transformed into National
schools in which children of the various ethnic groups would be taught using Malay
and English. It recommended that education would be free and modern teaching
methods would be used with emphasis on active learning, development of thinking
and active participation in school activities.
The recommendations of the Barnes Report implied that eventually vernacular
schools would disappear, including Malay schools (Omar Hashim1961). As expected,
the non-Malays, especially the Chinese reacted strongly against it because they saw
this as a move to eliminate their language and cultural identity.
The Fenn-Wu Report (1952)
A committee headed by Dr. W.P. Fenn and Dr. Y.T. Wu was given the task of
studying the status of Chinese vernacular education in Malaysia to incorporate it into
a unified education system This resulted in the formation of another committee called
the Fenn-Wu Committee which was formed in 1952. It had the impression that most
Chinese were prepared to accept Malay and English as media of instruction, and at the
same time could continue learning their mother tongue to keep their cultural identity.
This system would make Chinese medium students trilingual while others would be
bilingual. The Fenn-Wu Report seemed to make the same claim for the Indians.
Mother tongues of the Indian communities (Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi) were to be
retained in Indian schools.
In summary, the educational system before independence promoted
ethnocentricity as they socialized the child to a Malay, or a Chinese or an Indian
world-view which was relevant to the maintenance of the cultural identify of each
group, but they were all increasingly incongruous in the rapidly changing political
social, and economic conditions of a country preparing for national independence
(Chai, 1977, p. 26).

1. Why did the Malays object to the Cheesman Plan?
2. Why did the Chinese object to the recommendations of the
Barnes Report?

9.2 Curriculum Initiatives After Independence

Razak Report 1956 and the Education Ordinance 1957
As Malaysia moved towards independence, there was growing realisation that
unifying the various ethnic groups was a priority. A committee headed by Dato Abdul
Razak Hussein was established and the recommendations of the Razak Report of 1956
laid the foundation of the Malaysia education system. In many ways the Razak Report
incorporated the ideas of the Barnes and Fenn-Wu Reports. The Report emphasised
that although the intention of the government was to gradually introduce Malay as the
national language, it also had full intentions of maintaining other local languages. The
Report recommended the the followingL
The Malay language was to be the National Language and suggested that the
Roman script be used.
the existing bilingualism in the primary schools would remain,
all schools, irrespective of language medium should use common curriculum
content, i.e. a Malaysian centred curriculum with a single system of evaluation
for all.
the Malay medium schools were called National Schools, and schools using
English, Mandarin and Tamil as medium of instruction were categorized as
National-Type schools.
The use of common curriculum contents irrespective of medium of instruction was
easily achieved. It was hoped that the common syllabus content would inculcate
common values and outlook in life, and eventually forge a new integrated nation.
Still its implementation faced much resentment. Early efforts to achieve unity
through education were too weak and steps taken were not effective to bring about
social integration. It merely endorsed the prevailing status quo with some curriculum
change. The only positive change was that secondary education for the Malays which
was neglected before was made available then.
The policy to establish Malay medium secondary schools was to bring
together children of all ethnic groups under one national education system, in which,
Malay was to be the medium of instruction. That would orientate all schools to have a
common Malaysian outlook (Razak Report, 1956). However, the report also
mentioned that 'that progress towards this goal cannot be rushed' (Razak Report,
1956: para 12 ).
Rahman Talib Report and Education Act 1961
In February, 1960, the Government appointed a committee headed by the then
Minister of Education, Abdul Rahman Talib to review the Education Policy of 1956,
to study its past and future implementation. The Report recommended the following:
The establishment of teacher-training arrangements to facilitate expansion of
the school system
The provision of a place in a primary school using the language medium of the
parents choice for any Malaysian child of primary school age.
The school-leaving age be raised to 15 with abolishment of the Year 6
national examination wherein those students who had failed were not
permitted to continue to secondary school.
That primary education should be made free with effect from 1962.

We recommend that education at secondary level paid for from public funds shall be
conducted mainly in the medium of one of the two official languages (Malay and
English) with the intention of ultimately using the national language as the main
medium of instruction, except that other languages and literatures may be taught and
learnt in their own media.... It is not possible, within the framework of a policy which
is truly national, to satisfy completely all the individual demands of each cultural and
language group in the country. We believe that the present system of providing at
public expense primary education in each of the four main languages goes as far as is
reasonably possible for a national Malayan system to go in satisfying the needs of our
various peoples.
(Rahman Talib Report, 1960:3-4).

The Rahman Talib Report of 1960 reiterated the need for Malay and English to be
compulsory subjects in the curriculum of all schools. The guiding feature was national
unity through making the Malay language the National Language. Realising that
conversion of a Malay medium of instruction would be extremely difficult without
appropriate textbooks, the report also recommended that the Ministry of Education
appoint qualified teachers to translate books into Malay.
The Cabinet Committee on Education, 1979
The Cabinet Report of 1979 proposed the following:
o Stress on 3R basic education . reading, writing and arithmetic
o Stress on a strong spiritual education and the desired elements of discipline
o Stress on a Malaysian curriculum
o Upper secondary education of two streams, academic and vocational
o Opportunity to continue education from 9 years to 11 years
o Facilitation of education management procedures to improve the overall
quality of education

1. What are the recommendation of the Razak Report?
2. What are the recommendations of the Rahman Talib Report?

9.3 Curriculum Reform

The major curriculum reform in the Malaysian education system is the
introduction of the Integrated Primary School Curriculum in 1983 and the Integrated
Secondary School Curriculum in 1989. The curriculum was reformed because of the
demand from society that the existing curriculum was overloaded and the relatively
disturbing number of students who could not read and write at the desired level. The
revamp of the curriculum was based on the National Philosophy of Education.

National Philosophy of Education

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 harmonic, based on a 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 high level of personal well-being as well as being
able to contribute to the harmony and betterment of the family, the society
and the nation at large"

The role of the curriculum is to produce a Malaysian citizen who is wellrounded, skilful and cherishes the goal of achieving national unity. The underlying
principle of the curriculum is the integrated approach. The integrated approach calls
for the infusion of moral values, patriotism, science and technology, proper use of
language, environmental education, study skills, creative and critical thinking.
Infusion of these ideas is to occur across subject areas. For example, patriotism is
discusses in history and local studies. Concepts in environmental education is to be
infused in subject such as geography, science and biology.
The Integrated Primary School Curriculum (ICPS)
The Integrated Primary School Curriculum is divided into two phases that is
Phase 1 (Year1-3) and Phase II (Year 4-6). The curriculum emphasises the mastery,
reinforcement and application of the 3Rs and the acquisition of complex skills and
knowledge. Also, emphasised is the development of positive attitudes and values. The
content is divided into six components: basic skills, humanities, art and recreation,
values and attitudes, living skills and communication skills. The compulsory subjects
are Bahasa Malaysia, English, mathematics, Islamic Education, moral education,
music, art, physical education, science. local studies and living skills.

The Integrated Secondary School Curriculum (KBSM)

The Integrated Secondary School Curriculum emphasised on providing a
general education and consolidation of skills acquired in the primary grades. The
secondary school curriculum continued to focus on the development of positive
attitudes and values among students. The lower secondary curriculum was comprised
of the following subjects: Bahasa Malaysia, English, mathematics, Islamic Education,
moral education, science, geography, history, physical education, art and living skills.
In the upper secondary curriculum, besides compulsory subjects such as history,
mathematics, Bahasa Malaysia, English, moral education/Islamic education; students
select elective subjects from the humanities, pure sciences, Islamic studies, applied
arts, information technology, technology and languages.
Teaching Methods
To enhance student interest and motivation, teachers are encouraged to use
different teaching-learning strategies. Small group techniques should be widely used
to accommodate the different learning styles of students. Remedial activities are

employed to assist students who are unable to achieve the desired learning outcomes
while enrichment activities are made available for more advanced students.
Every effort should be made to encourage students to be independent learners.
Students should be encouraged to reflect on their learning and be able to transfer their
learning across the curriculum to situations outside the curriculum. The use of ICT in
teaching and learning is to enhanced. For example, the resources of the internet
should is to be exploited and the various web tools should be employed to make
learning more meaningful and interesting.
Education Bill 1995
o The national education system is designed to produce world-class education from
the aspect of quality to achieve the nations aspirations
o The National Education Policy becomes the base for the national education
o Duration of primary education is between 5 and 7 years
o Pre-school education is part of the national education system
o Technical and polytechnic education are upgraded
o Allocations are made for the supervision of private education

1. What is meant by integration in the integrated primary and
secondary curriculum?

9.4 Curriculum Development Process in Malaysia

Curriculum in Malaysia is developed centrally and within the Ministry of Education
(MOE). The three main departments responsible are for the design and development
of school curriculum are the
Curriculum Development Centre (CDC): designs and develops curriculum for
preschool to upper secondary
Department of Technical and Vocational Education: designs and develops
technical and vocational curriculum for technical and vocational schools
Department of Religious and Moral Education: designs and develops
curriculum for religious education including the teaching of Arabic.
However, all matters regarding curriculum policies have to be approved by the
Central Curriculum Committee (CCC) headed by the Director-General of Education.
The Committee comprises the various directors of the divisions under the MOE such
as the Textbook Division, Teacher Education Division, Examination Syndicate,
Educational Technology Division and the School Division. For example, the
introduction of a new subject has to be discussed and approved by the Committee
before it can be implemented in schools.

Curriculum programmes that have been approved by the CCC have to

discussed and approved by the Curriculum Implementation Committee (CIC)
comprising of 14 state directors of education and representatives of various agencies
of the MOE. This Committee would discuss in detail aspects relating to
implementation of the curriculum plan.
The process of curriculum development is based on a cyclical model
beginning with a needs analysis, followed by planning, development, piloting,
dissemination and implementation and evaluation (see Figure 10.1). The idea for a
curriculum initiative may begin with a directive from policy makers such as the
government; from changing world trends, or just from the realisation that existing
curriculum suffers from certain weaknesses identified. A team headed by the CDC
consisting of MOE officers, academics, professional bodies and industry
representatives is appointed. to plan and design the new curriculum or revise an
existing curriculum. The first task of team members is to review available literature
and reports of practices in other countries. The aim is to provide a theoretical and
philosophical framework for the new or revised curriculum.
Teachers and teacher trainers are brought in to discuss the design of the
curriculum and the most effective delivery of the curriculum. Discussion focuses on
selection of content, the breaking up of content for each year of schooling and
suggested learning activities and teaching methods. This job is done by the CDC
together with its committee of subject matter specialists, educationists, teachers and
teacher trainers. The curriculum specifications agreed upon form the basis for
textbooks and other supporting materials. Also produced are general teacher guides
and guides for specific topics.
The curriculum is than piloted in selected schools. At this stage, the education
department of the states involved are brought in. Based on the findings of the piloted
schools or limited implementation, decision is made to proceed to full
The nationwide implementation of a curriculum is undertaken by the
following agencies of the MOE:
The Curriculum Development Centre is involved in the dissemination of the
curriculum and key personnel are appointed who consist mainly of senior
teachers and teacher trainers and are charged with the responsibility of
disseminating the curriculum.
The Textbook Division undertakes the preparation of textbooks and other
supplementary material.
The Educational Technology Division undertakes preparation of multimedia
material to support the implementation of the curriculum.
The Examination Syndication is involved in student assessment.

Need Analysis

Supervision & Evaluation

Research & Planning

Dissemination & Implementation

Design & Development

Trial / Limited

Figure 9.1 Curriculum Development Cycle

[source: Development of Education, National Report Malaysia]

At the state level the State Curriculum Committee headed by the State
Director of Education monitors, assesses and facilitates implementation of the
curriculum by principals and headmasters (see Figure 9.2). The state committee
organisers meetings and workshops with principals, headmasters, district education
officers and teachers. It also assists in the coordination of resources while acting as
intermediary between Division/District Curriculum Committee and the MOE.
At the district level, the planning and implementation activities are carried out
by the District Curriculum Committee. It provides guidance and assistance in
implementing curriculum at the school and classroom level.
At the school level, the curriculum committee is headed by the principal or
headmaster who supervises the implementation of the classroom in the classroom.
The committee facilitates implementation of the curriculum by providing teachers
with relevant resources, guidance and support. The committee also provides feedback
on implementation to their respective district committees.

1. Describe the curriculum development and implementation
process in Malaysia.


Chairman: Minister of Education


Chairman: Director General of Education


Chairman: Deputy Director General of Education


Chairman: State Education Director


Chairman: Division/State Education Officer


Chairman: Principal/Headmaster

Figure 9.2 Curriculum Implementation Process

[source: Development of Education, National Report Malaysia]

1. If the recommendations of the Barnes Report were fully implemented, the
Malaysian education system would be different. Discuss
2. To what extent has school system produced Malaysians as enshrined in the
National Philosophy of Education?