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Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 UTM Skudai. Tel: (607) ± 550
Fax no: (607)- 550 1918

The relatively brief history of mathematics education in Malaysia can be said to have developed in three
distinct phases. In the first phase, the traditional approach, which emphasised mainly on basic skills (predominantly
computational) was the focus of the national syllabus. In the late 70¶s, in consonance with the world-wide
educational reform, the modern mathematics program (MMP) was introduced in schools. Understanding of basic
concepts rather than attaining computational efficiency was the underlying theme of the syllabus. Modern topics
such as set, matrix, vector, transformational geometry and statistics were introduce into the syllabus. Set, relations
and modern geometry were seen as unifying across all topics. Finally, in the late 80¶s the mathematics curriculum
further revised. It is part of the national educational reform that saw the introduction of the national integrated
curriculum (KBSM) both at the primary and secondary levels. This mathematics curriculum, which has undergone
several minor changes periodically, is presently implemented in schools. The content of the syllabus does not differ
significantly from the MMP, but emphasises on attaining the balance between understanding concepts and
computational skills. The syllabus also emphasises on the importance of context in problem solving. These three
syllabi, as in any other curricular development, can be seen to have evolved from changing perspectives on the
content, psychological and pedagogical considerations in teaching and learning of mathematics, which considerably
in the last four decades. In this paper, I will trace the development of the Malaysian mathematics curriculum from
psychological, content and pedagogical perspectives. I will argue that the development has in many ways attempted
to make mathematics more meaningful, and thus more friendly to students both at the primary and secondary levels.
Within the last five decades, the Malaysian mathematics curriculum has undergone several
changes. The relatively short history of the mathematics education can be said to have begun
with the
traditional mathematics emphasising mainly on basic skills (predominantly computational) in the
grades. In the secondary school, a similar traditional approach in the teaching and learning of
mathematics was used. Arithmetic, geometry and algebra were outlined separately in the syllabus
limited attempt to treat mathematics as an integrated subject (Asiah Abu Samah, 1984). In the
70¶s, the ³Modern Mathematics Program´ (MMP) was introduced to both the primary and
schools. The main aim of the program was to introduce some ³modern topics´ (such as
basics in set theory, statistics, vectors etc.) into the curriculum and at the same time to change the
³traditional´ approach in the teaching and learning of mathematics (Yeoh, Kanasabai & Ahmad,
Beginning in the early 80¶s, as part of the nation-wide curriculum reform based on the National
Philosophy of Education, the mathematics has undergone some significant changes. This
curriculum is
based on the vision that mathematics is a dynamic subject, coherently connected within itself and
almost all other areas of study, and that the main purpose of its study is to solve problems. In
mathematics has a rich historical background and that its discovery is as response to human

The main goals of teaching mathematics at the primary level (ages 7 to 12 years) are to help
students to
a) the basic skills in numeracy (computation limited to the decimal system)
b) the ability to use these skills to solve problems
c) the ability to estimate and make or calculate approximations and
d) the ability to interpret graphs and arrangements of numerical data
More specifically, the curriculum is outlined so that students will be able to:
a) Master the skills in writing numbers, counting and stating place value
b) Acquire the basic skills in the four basic operations of adding subtracting, multiplying and
c) Acquire the ability to measure, weigh, state time and specify the face value of currency
d) Identify and state the shapes of objects and able to know the properties of square, rectangles,
triangles, cuboids, cylinders, spheres, cones and pyramids
e) Solve problems involving numbers, measurement, weight, money, distance, space and time;
f) Estimate and calculate approximations
g) Record and read groups of data in the form of simple tables and graphs (Kementerian
The syllabus specifically emphasised that the knowledge and skills on the operation of numbers
form the basis of the subject (Mok and Lee 1986). In the Special Guide for mathematics
Pendidikan, 1988) the suggested teaching sequences for all the topics in the syllabus are outlined.
guidelines are divided into two parts comprising of the skills to be taught and suggested activities
can be used for teaching the appropriate skills.
All the units in the teaching guidebooks, printed by the Curriculum Development Centre,
Ministry of Education, are structured in the same way. The suggested approach in the teaching of
mathematics is to introduce the skills followed by activities that are real and concrete (Liew and
1988). At the primary level, concrete experiences are emphasised. These concrete experiences
progressively expanded, as the students progress to higher levels, to include those that are
experienced by children at that level outside the classrooms. Problem solving, mainly word
based on everyday experiences, are emphasised at the upper levels.
In summary , the aim of the primary grade mathematics is to enable the child to acquire mastery
in the basic skills and that these skills are to be applied constantly to the child¶s real life
Problem solving is emphasised throughout the curriculum. It is important to note, as stated
earlier, that at
the end of the sixth-year of schooling (age 12 years) are required to sit for a national examination
in 4
basic subjects; mathematics, English, National Language and science. Although all students are
to continue their education at the secondary level regardless of the results they obtain, doing well
in the
examination can be used as passport for entry into selected schools. Obtaining good results in
mathematics is of great importance ( see also Christiansen, Howson and Otte, 1986 for similar

The Integrated Secondary School Curriculum (KBSM) implemented in the mid 80¶s replaced the
curriculum and is considered to be the most extensive educational reform that the country has
experienced in its history. Based on the National Educational Philosophy, the mathematics
curriculum in
KBSM is planned to provide students with experiences that may consists of the:
a) integration of knowledge, values and language
b) Integration of mathematics with other branches of knowledge
c) Integration of mathematics with other branches of knowledge
d) Integration of various topics in mathematics
e) Integration of mathematics learned in the classrooms with those experiences outside the
classrooms (Kementerian Pendidikan, 1989).
Related to the above, several aspects of mathematics are being given special emphasis in the
mathematics curriculum. These aspects are:
a) The balance between understanding of concepts and the mastery of basic skills
b) The use of mathematics in real-life situations
c) The development of problem solving skills
d) The appreciation of history of mathematics, and
e) Human societal and spiritual values inherent in the subject (see also Bishop, 1991)
The mathematics curriculum is ³general´ in nature and is structured as a continuum from Forms
1 to 5.
The content of the syllabus is planned in three areas      . These three
are chosen based on the assumption that generally, in real life situations, a person encounters and
needs understanding and the attainment of appropriate skills in the areas of:
a) Numbers such as in counting and calculating
b) Shapes, such as recognising and identifying the properties of shapes and their measurements
c) Relationships, such as to be able to recognise and using patterns, rules, general principles,
associations and so on in numbers and shapes.

The goals of the secondary school mathematics are to develop students¶ abilities in logical,
systematic and critical thinking; to develop students¶ ability in problem solving and in applying
mathematical knowledge acquired so that they will be able to function effectively and
responsibly in their
daily lives. In addition the curriculum hopes, through various learning activities , that students
will be able
to appreciate the importance and beauty of mathematics.
Specific objectives of the secondary school curriculum are:
a) to know and understand the concepts, definitions, rules, theorems, principles, related to space
and the number system.
b) to strengthen and expand the use of skills in addition, subtraction, multiplication and addition.
3) to master the basic skills (other than the four basic operations) such as
a) making approximations in numbers and measurement
b) ability to identify the shapes existing in the environment and at the same
time recognise their properties
c) ability to measure and construct using the basic tools of mathematics
d) ability to gather, record, represent and interpret data
e) ability to identify and represent a relation mathematically
a) mastering the skills in carrying out steps in certain algorithms and thus able to obtain certain
results mathematically
b) developing problem solving skills that involve various steps such as interpreting the problem,
devising a plan, to carry out the plan and be able to check backwards the answers obtained
c) ability to use the knowledge and skills in the management of one¶s daily affairs effectively and
responsible ways, and
d) attainment and appreciation in the process of doing certain mathematical tasks logically,
systematically, heuristically and accurately (Kementerian Pendidikan, 1989)

To achieve the aims of the curriculum, several factors are given priority. Students active
involvement in
the learning process is emphasised. The learning activities, the types of questions asked and the
given to students should be geared towards upgrading the ability to think and assisting students
through real life experiences. The simulated experiences should involve activities that encourage
and provide opportunities for students to reach certain conclusions or solve problem
These experiences could also include the use of
mathematics in situations that are meaningful to students.
In planning the teaching of a topic, a mathematics teacher should consider how and when the
factors could be effectively used
a) Activities that give meaningful learning experiences
b) The use of mathematics in real life situations
c) The effective use of problem solving skills
d) Instilling of Malaysian societal values
e) Imparting and appreciating the elements of history of mathematics
The teaching of mathematics should also provide means through which values, mathematical as
well as
human (see also Bishop, 1991) could also be inculcated to students. These are to be transmitted
directly or indirectly. For example, certain values can be transmitted through
a) Co-operation as in co-operative learning activities.
b) Analogies such as the importance of following certain procedures in mathematics as compared
to the importance of following procedures in other areas of study
c) Problems in suitable contexts such as the ³value´ of equity can be elucidated through lessons
fractions and so on
The elements of history are to be revealed and appreciated whenever appropriate. This can be
transmitted through either a short story about famous mathematicians or a short historical
account about
the development of a symbol or concept. The problem solving skills should be taught directly
planned through the use of examples. The problems used should be relevant to students
and appropriate with the mathematical maturity of the students.
The above teaching aspects can be included in any level of a mathematics level of a lesson,
a) whether at the beginning of a topic
b) when certain skills or concepts is being taught
c) in certain exercises taken directly or adapted that are suitable with the students¶ backgrounds
d) as an enrichment activity for deeper understanding of the subject
The mastery of various concepts together with reasoning and logical thinking should form the
basis of all
topics of all topics. For this purpose, all teachers are provided with ³Further Elaboration of the
Syllabus´ (Kementerian Pendidikan, 1991) to guide teachers in sequencing the topics and
activities. Following is an example extracted form the guideline:
Concept Skills Further elaboration
a) The measure of
dispersion Range as a
measure of dispersion of
a group and it refers to
the difference between
the highest an the lowest
values for a given set of
To determine the range for certain
sets of data
To determine;
a) median
b) first quartile
c) third quartile
d) the range between quartiles
The example chosen should be for
both discrete as well continuous
b) First quartile is the «.
The use of everyday examples is not specifically stated in this guide, but has already being
emphasised in
other supporting materials. The teaching of concepts and skills should be taught in single units
its hierarchical order.
other considerations that are to be part of the teaching mathematics are that:
a) teachers make the necessary connections for further students¶ understanding of concepts when
b) exercises that are given to students should involve various situations. Soon after challenging
students have grasp the meaning of certain skills, they should be guided to attempt problems or
exercises that are challenging.
In the teaching of mathematics no fixed teaching strategy is recommend;. unlike the previous
where teaching by the discovery method is encouraged. Teachers are encouraged to use varied
techniques and attempt to make the mathematics lesson meaningful, fun to learn and at the same
intellectual challenging.
In summary, the above outline describes the basic factors that are to be emphasised in the
planning and implementation of mathematics lessons. It is also believed that the teacher is the
qualified person to decide or chose the most suitable or effective strategy. Teachers are also
to follow the syllabus, using it as a guide, but is allowed to make the necessary adjustments or
modifications depending upon the characteristics of students under his/her care.
The new curriculum, when compared to the previous ones, is more open in nature. It regards
mathematics as forming a major part of one¶s daily life and that it can become a very powerful
tool in
solving problems experienced in our daily lives.

The approach taken in planning the mathematics curriculum in Malaysia is that the subject
should be a
friendly one and thus is planned or structured to meet the needs of students regardless of their
This approach differs from the previous approach where mathematics is approached in a
manner. The curriculum is organised on three main strandsV  

three bases are chosen based on the belief that in everyday living one is often faced with these
in t he order listed. In addition, solving mathematical problems encountered in one¶s daily life
the overriding concern in the curriculum.
Although the definition of problem solving may differ to that of NCTM¶s (1992), it, nevertheless,
becomes the significant elements to be emphasized in the teaching and learning of mathematics.
Teachers are expected to intentionally teach students on the heuristics of problem solving.
teachers are free to chose the strategy suitable for his/her students, they are encouraged to follow
recommended by Polya (1974). Teachers are also encourage to simulate mathematical problems
on their daily experiences. More specifically, teachers are expected to provide varied experiences
through students can work individually or in groups in tackling mathematical problems. The
places heavy emphases on relationships between mathematics and real life problems. Problem
solving in
real contexts are considered essential in helping students appreciate mathematics. In short,
solving becomes the focus in the curriculum.

The curriculum clearly states that on of the objectives in earning mathematics is to acquire the
ability to
communicate ideas through the use of mathematical symbols or ideas. An essential part of the
is to help students attain the ability to comprehend mathematical statements encountered, for
example, in
the mass media. For example, students are expected to be able to interpret the statistics used in
reports they encounter in the mass media. In mathematics lessons, students are encouraged to
work in
groups on certain projects or problems.
The main goal statements clearly states the students need to develop the ability to think logically,
systemically, creatively and critically. Although this is not clearly stated in the syllabus, teachers¶
and further elaboration of the syllabus specially encourage teachers to use approaches that can
mathematical thinking or reasoning. The use of statistics to critically examine information as part
of the
lesson, for example, can be said to be in correspondence with the aim of promoting the above

There is a strong emphasis in making connections within mathematics it self and across other
subjects. In
fact, the title of the curriculum suggests that making mathematical connections within itself or
other areas of study is strongly suggested. Making the connections between mathematics studied
in class
and material from everyday life or the environment are explicitly stated in the documents
the syllabus . Through the introduction of certain facts concerning historical development in
the curriculum hopes that students will be able to see that mathematics has its origin and in many
and is developed as responses to human needs that are both utilitarian and aesthetic.

The total framework of the intended curriculum places a heavy emphasis on problem solving,
communications, reasoning and connections in mathematics. Other than these, another important
that is being emphasized is to present mathematics is enjoyable, and yet challenging to their
development. The relationships of mathematics to the real world is the basic theme used in all
the topics
of the syllabus. The curriculum is also responsive to the development of the information age.
This is
clearly seen in the ³smart schools´ program currently planned and implemented in students.
It is often argued that mathematics curriculum should not only provide students with the relevant
knowledge to function well in society, but should also prepare them for further study at the
education level. The present mathematics curriculum provides a broad-based mathematical
essential for students of higher learning in non-mathematically related areas of study
curriculum. The secondary school curriculum provides the Additional Mathematics course for
who intend to embark on studies related to scientific and technological areas, The content of this
curriculum is said to be sufficient for further studies in mathematics related areas. Studies that
into the adequacy of this curriculum in providing students with the necessary mathematical skills
understanding for advanced scientific and technological studies is yet to be conducted



In a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country like Malaysia, national unity is

an overriding goal in the formulation of socio-economic policies. The
nations' ideology, m   (RN) proclaimed in 1969 forms the basis
for the consolidation of national unity. Since the proclamation, it has
provided the direction for all political, economic, social and cultural policies
and constitutes an important milestone in the development of education in
Malaysia. Development in education was further grounded through the
National Philosophy of Education (NPE), established in 1988 and the
policy statement of the National Development Plan (NDP) in 1991.

The essence of the NPE is to develop the potential of individuals in a

holistic and integrated manner, so as to produce citizens who are
intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and
harmonious based on a firm belief in and devotion to God. The NPE is
regarded as a statement of vision for the Ministry of Education (MOE) in
the pursuit of educational excellence. The NDP on the other hand forms a
basis in the development of education vis-a-vis the nation¶s goal to
become an industrialised country by the year 2020.

The government¶s committment towards education is contained in the

Federal Constitution and the Education Act of 1996. It is realised through
the provision of free education to every child of school-going age, for a
period of eleven years, in the country.

Formal education is provided at four levels - primary, lower secondary,

upper secondary and post secondary. The age of admission to the first
year of primary education is six years old. Promotion from grade to grade
is automatic. Continuous school-based assessment is administered at all
grades and at all levels. However, at the end of each level, students sit for
common public examinations. Successful completion of secondary
education can lead to a number of opportunities for further study and
training at post-secondary and tertiary levels, both in the academic and
professional fields provided by universities, colleges and other educational
training institutions.



1.1 Education for all (EFA) programmes in Malaysia are not carried out
selectively nor in isolation but rather in tandem with other educational
development programmes that have been synchronised with efforts to
mould a national identity, and to achieve unity in a multi-ethnic society as
well as developing human resources essential for the next century. The
implementation of the Sixth Malaysia Plan (6MP) (1991-1995), and
Seventh Malaysia Plan (7MP) (1996-2000) saw the undertaking of
programmes focused on expanding capacity and increasing access to all
levels of education, strengthening the delivery system and improving the
quality of education. The goals and targets of these programmes that are
of concern to EFA are reported under six dimensions below:
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1.2 Early childhood development (ECD) programmes are instrumental in

preparing the nation¶s young to participate in nation building. In Malaysia
there are two types of institutions that cater to this need; the childcare
centre and pre-schools. The childcare centre is defined as any premise
where four children or more from a household is received to be looked
after for a fee. The centre admits children below four years of age. This
centre is categorised into i) Home Based Centre and ii) Institutional Centre.
The former receives less than 10 children, while the latter receives more
than 10 children. These centres offer childcare services ranging from half-
day to full day basis. The objectives of the childcare centre are as follows:

u Assisting working parents so that their children get good

u Enhancement of standard of living of the family.
u Provide opportunities for people who love children to work in
the childcare centres.
u Encouraging involvement of the society in the caring and
nursing of the children.

1.3 The pre-school, is a non-formal and flexible programme for young

children aged 4+ through 5+ years. The programme runs for a duration of
one to two years. These centres are mostly privately-run and are highly
concentrated in the urban areas catering for children from high and
middle-income families. The fees charged by these pre-schools vary and
are largely determined by overhead costs and market forces. Pre-school
classes conducted by the MOE and other government agencies enable
under-privileged children in the urban and rural areas access to pre-school
education for free or at a minimal charge. Priority for admission to these
classes is given to those who could not afford to attend privately-run pre-

1.4 Pre-school education aims at providing a firm foundation for formal

education. All pre-school centres have to abide by the curriculum
guidelines set by the MOE. The curriculum which is in line with the NPE
enables pre-school children to acquire basic communication, social and
other positive skills in preparation for primary schooling. Specifically, the
aim of pre-school education is to develop children¶s skills in the following

u Social skills,
u Intellectual skills,
u Physical skills,
u Spiritual skills,
u Aesthetic values (Creativity and Appreciation).

1.5 For each aspect, the specific objectives are clearly stated. The social
skill components focus on children¶s interaction with the environment and
the people in their surroundings, development of positive self-concept,
discipline, social responsibilities, and positive attitudes towards learning.

1.6 The intellectual skill components emphasise physical environment, the

concepts of space, numbers, alphabets, and prerequisites for writing,
reading and language competencies. The physical skill components focus
on the physical activities that involve co-ordination of the various parts of
the body such as the head, hand, leg, eye and fingers.

1.7 The spiritual skill components emphasise the inculcation of noble

values and believe in God. The aesthetical aspects on the other hand,
train the children to express themselves through their hand-made
creations, drawings, music and movements.

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1.8 In Malaysia, universal primary education (UPE) refers to formal

primary education that emphasizes on acquiring strong reading and
writing skills as well as building solid foundation in mathematics and basic
sciences. The six years of schooling at this level admits children between
the ages of 6+ through 11+ years.

1.9 Even though education is not compulsory, a very high percentage of

children in this age group are enrolled in public primary schools
throughout the country. This is possible since education in Malaysia is free.
Moreover, under the primary school programme, access to and equal
opportunity for education is provided to every child, including those from
remote and rural areas. However, parents can also choose to enrol their
children into private schools of their choice. These private schools are
commercially run and they are now growing in popularity.

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1.10 To minimise the slide in academic performance of students, the MOE

implements remedial education. Remedial education aims to improve the
overall performance of slow learners and low achievers, with particular
concentration on rural students. Under the remedial programme students
are organised into separate groups based on their academic performance.
Also a step taken was the introduction of simpler and more effective
teaching methods as well as the utilisation of audio-visual aids.
1.11 An initiative to cater for fast learners is the introduction of the Year
Three assessment or the !
     (PTS). The PTS offers
optional double promotion to outstanding 8+ year old students. This
initiative accommodates accelerated learning for these high achievers.

1.12 National assessment in Year Six is to evaluate students¶ performance

at the end of the primary education before entering lower secondary
education. At the end of the lower secondary education students sit for the
Lower Secondary Assessment or the !
  m (PMR).
The PMR is a combination of centralised and school-based assessments.
The school-based assessment follows the guidelines set by the
Examinations Syndicate.

1.13 In line with the policy of expanding universal education to include

upper secondary education, the PMR is no longer made a terminal
examination; rather it is more of a diagnostic evaluation. After the PMR
examinations students are allowed to specialise into either science,
technical or arts stream. At the end of the upper secondary level students
sit for the Malaysian Certificate of Education or the  

(SPM). Successful SPM students can enrol into post-secondary
programmes. After the post-secondary programmes students can enter
colleges and institutions of higher learning to pursue their degree

1.14 Among the post secondary programmes offered are the A level
foundation programmes, matriculation, Sixth Form, Polytechnics and,
teacher training. At the end of these programmes, students sit for their
respective tailored examinations. Students who are enrolled into Sixth
Form sit for the Malaysian Higher Certificate of Education or   

  (STPM). The STPM is a national
examination administered by the Malaysian Examination Council.

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1.15Malaysia is fully committed to eradicating illiteracy by the year 2000,

if not earlier. The various literacy and functional literacy pogrammes
carried out for adults are geared towards fulfilling the importance and
goals of life-long education.

1.16 Among the efforts to reduce adult illiteracy is the implementation of

the adult functional-literacy and the reading habit promotion programmes.
These are readily made available by the government through the Ministry
of Rural Development (MORD) and other relevant ministries. The
programmes areespecially designed to meet the needs of the lower
income group. There is no age limit for entrance into these programmes,
neither is there restrictions with regards to gender.

1.17 The multi-pronged approach taken to eradicate illiteracy, to extend

universal education to 11 years of schooling and the emphasis towards
the acquisition of knowledge will prepare Malaysia towards the realisation
of a literate and learning society by the turn of the century.


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1.18 The future of the country depends very much on the knowledge and
skills acquired by the nation¶s youth today to face an increasingly
competitive and challenging world of tomorrow. As such, the government
has accorded high priority to education and skills training for youths.

1.19 Current education policy implemented by the MOE that addresses

the education of youths is the expansion of universal education from nine
to eleven years of schooling. This policy has made it possible for PMR
students with minimum achievement to continue to upper secondary level.
These group of students who are usually less academically inclined follow
the "School To Work Programme" based on an Abridged Syllabus
developed by the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC). The programme
exposes students to relevant generic skills at the work place in order to
enable them to gain hands-on experience that would assist them to enter
the world of work in the future.

1.20 The MOE also provides technical, vocational and skills training to
youths between the ages of 15+ and 16+. These are offered in secondary
technical (STS) and secondary vocational (SVS) schools. These schools
are upper secondary schools specially equipped to teach technical and
vocational subjects. These schools cater for students who have an
aptitude and interest in technical subjects and also for students who are
interested in vocational education and skills training. The primary aim is to
provide the students with practical training in employability skills. Besides
providing general education these schools also provide foundation in
technical and vocational education to enable students to further their
studies particularly in engineering and commerce.

1.21 In the skills training programme, more emphasis is given to practical

work to develop competency in trade skills as required by the related
industries. Students are trained to acquire the Malaysian Skills Certificate
awarded by the Malaysian National Vocational Training Council (NVTC)
after two years of training. In addition, a one-year specialised skills training
in specific trades is provided both to students with the Malaysian
Vocational Certificate and the Skills Certificate.
1.22 Apart from the above-mentioned programmes, a system of
polytechnic education for youths between 17+ through 20+ years old are
established. The polytechnic programmes also address market demands
for skilled manpower. The primary objectives are :

u to provide broad-based education and training to upper-

secondary school-levers to enable them to acquire the
necessary skills to become technicians and technical
assistants in the various engineering fields or junior and
middle-level executives in the commercial and service
u to provide relevant technological or entrepreneurial
education and training to upgrade the basic skills.
u to promote collaboration with the private or public sector
through Time-Sector Privatisation as well as research and
development programmes.

1.23 In addressing the issue of unemployed out-of-school youths, skills

training centres are set up to cater to their needs. These centres
established by various government agencies provide formal and non-
formal training to both youths and adults between the ages of 15+ through
40+ years whose education ranges from primary to tertiary level. The
centres conduct these courses with the aim of imparting technical know-
how to the participants in order that they may gain employment in various
industries or initiate their own businesses. The training programmes also
provide avenues for instilling discipline in accordance with the national

1.24 Among the objectives of the programmes are:

u to produce skilled workers to fulfill the needs of the industrial

u to upgrade the skills of industrial workers so as to enable
them to contribute effectively towards national development,
u to provide opportunity for out-of-school-youths to get jobs
through systematic skills and vocational training.

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1.25 Besides literacy and functional literacy programmes the government

is also committed in propagating better living. The initiatives for enhancing
quality of life emphasizes on enhancing family well-being, health and civic
consciousness and promoting income-generating programmes. These
programmes are offered to out-of-school youths aged 15+ years and
above as well as adults from the rural and urban poor areas.

1.26 Among the programmes to address issues pertaining to improving

family-income undertaken by the MORD is the Hard-core Poor
Development Programmes or the !! m   
!!m Among others, the PPRTs provide opportunity for adults to enrol
into specially designed courses that would expose them to income-
generating activities and the working environment. Families of five earning
a monthly income below RM202.00 are given priority.

1.27 Among the programmes undertaken by the MORD to enhance family

well being are; the Family Development Programme, the Adult Education
Programme and the Religious and Moral Education Programme.

1.28 The Family Development Programme is intended to enhance the

well- being of rural families by fully utilizing women's potential in fostering
the desired socio-economic and cultural values. The activities carried out

u Home Economics classes in tailoring, handicrafts and

u Work-oriented classes in tailoring, handicrafts and
u Home visits by Home Economics workers to initiate actual
improvement in the homes.
u Mobile Demonstration Units to deliver talks and
demonstrations on nutrition, sanitation, health and

1.29 Activities under the Adult Education Programme include work-

oriented classes for women in areas traditionally handled by males, such
as crop production, animal rearing, aquaculture and other new vocational

1.30 A new emphasis on the Religious and Moral Education Programme is

not just religious and moral education per se but also the use of religious
traditions to bring about positive changes highly related to development
and work.


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2.1 The EFA National Plan of Action for the country was prepared in 1991.
This was possible through meetings and discussions among several
ministries and agencies. The Plan of Action was spelt out in the form of
projects and activities under the purview of various ministries and
agencies. All programmes and activities for EFA, conducted by these
various ministries and agencies impose no restrictions based on gender,
ethnicity or socio-economic status.

2.2 The government, through the MOE, other ministries and agencies
gives adequate publicity to the importance of formal and non-formal
education through the mass media and other government information
dissemination networks. This strategy has succeeded in encouraging
parents to admit their children into educational institution and for adults to
continuously pursue knowledge and upgrade their skills and competencies
for a better living condition. More structured programmes undertaken are
as reported below:

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2.3 The guidelines for the setting up of childcare centres is outlined in the
guidebook on rules and regulations of setting up childcare centres
produced jointly by the Department of Social Welfare, the Health
Department and the Local Authority. These agencies are authorised to
approve the licensing of such centres. The Childcare Centre Act was
implemented in the state of Selangor and Federal Territory in the year
1985 and eventually, throughout the country in 1986.

2.4 The Department of Labour registers and monitors the childcare

centres in the plantation sector. The management provides this service
free for the children of the workers. The provision for childcare centres in
the plantations areas is mandated in the Standard Act Minimum Housing
and Workers Facilitation 1990.

2.5 The provision for the establishment of pre-schools is enacted in the

Education Act 1996. Pre-school programmes are undertaken by a number
of ministries and agencies, including the private and voluntary sectors.
Curriculum guidelines of the MOE serve as the base for pre-school
education. Nevertheless, the agencies running the pre-schools are free to
choose the medium of instruction to be used in their establishments.

2.6 The main strategy in ensuring high participation rate in public pre-
school is that the government, through various programmes, provides
meals and other support facilities and services such as per capita grant
allocation, pre-school activity packages, indoor and outdoor pre-school
equipment and apparatus for pre-school education.

2.7 Pre-school teachers are trained by their own agencies and

establishments using varied approaches and methodologies. To this end,
the MOE has trained 178 trainers from the Community Development
Division .a  of the National Unity Department. These trainers in turn
train other teachers. The government through its agencies also provide
trained teachers, teaching-learning materials, and funds to facilitate
running of the public pre-schools.

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2.8 There are two types of public schools at the primary level, that is the
national schools and national type schools. The national schools provide
instruction in Malay; the national type schools provide it either in Mandarin
or Tamil. Both the public and private schools follow the È  

 m (KBSR) or the New Primary School Curriculum. The
national curriculum, fully implemented in 1988, is continuously evaluated
and upgraded to meet current developments in education and
accommodate new challenges, aspirations and values and future
demands of the changing technology.


2.9 To provide quality education, trained and qualified teachers as well as

other educational resources in the form of audio-visual aids, educational
television and books are provided for primary education. Financial
assistance in the form of per capita grants and scholarships are also
provided. Other support services such as textbooks on loan, boarding
facilities, health and dental care, and supplementary milk and meal, to
children from the rural areas, and urban poor implemented by the
government contribute to high participation rate in the public schools.


2.10 The Teacher Education Division (TED) of the MOE formulates

policies and guidelines pertaining to teacher training. The Division also
implements and evaluates the curriculum and examination system while
being responsible for the selection of candidates into the teacher training
programmes. As part of its core business, the TED identifies areas of
needs in terms of expertise; levels of skills required and type of courses to
be offered before such programmes are carried out.

2.11 To enhance teachers' professionalism and to improve teacher quality,

the MOE offers special diploma courses running over a period of one year
for non-graduate teachers apart from other professional development
courses offered to all teachers.

2.12 To this effect, pre-service and in-service courses have been

formulated as the backbone of the various teacher-training programmes.
Three types of pre service courses are made available for teacher
aspirants and they are:
u Diploma in Teaching (for primary level) - 3
u Post Diploma Certificate in teaching (for
primary and Secondary level) - 1 year; and;

u Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching (for

secondary level) - 1 year

2.13 In-service teachers who wish to upgrade their knowledge and skills of
the profession may register for any of the courses listed below:

u Special Diploma (for non-graduate

teachers, Primary and secondary) - 1 year,

u Professional Development Courses (Primary

and secondary) 14 weeks

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2.14 Student assessment in Malaysia had over the years undergone many
changes. An on-going effort towards this effect is the collaboration
between the MES and the Cambridge Examination Syndicate in reviewing
the SPM. This initiative would propagate an open certification system that
is internationally recognised.


2.15 There is no law to compel illiterates to attend functional literacy

classes. The number of participants depends on the relevance of the
curriculum to the daily problems faced by them. However, in places like
Sabah and Sarawak, geographical conditions of the countryside, distance
and poor communication deter some people from attending classes.
Extreme poverty of certain isolated communities is also a factor that
discourages them from participating in literacy programmes.

2.16 Efforts in improving literacy include inculcating reading habit and

increasing access to global information. Such efforts are implemented
through a nation-wide ý or reading campaign, the
upgrading of reading materials in public libraries and the establishment of
new libraries. The training of librarians in the use of information technology
(IT) has been stepped up in order to serve the public better.

2.17 Malaysia has introduced a special relevant functional literacy

curriculum that is designed to suit the demanding needs of the target
group. Besides the curriculum, the literacy programmes are "packaged"
with other socio-economic programmes since education alone is not a
strong motivator for the poor to learn. The income-generating programmes
initiated under the !!m s are more successful as the point of entry to
make the literacy programmes effective.



2.18 The strategy undertaken to increase participation of unemployed

youths and adults into the workforce and national developmernt is by
recruiting them into vocational and skills training programmes. Through
these programmes these group of youths and adults are given on-the-job
training in industries as an exposure to the working environment. It is
hoped that through these programmes, youths and adults of Malaysia can
use their potentials and capabilities to the fullest to help the country realize
the vision of achieving a developed nation status by the year 2020.

2.19 Among the resources provided to run these programmes are training
allowances, trained and qualified trainers as well as relevant technical and
vocational curriculum. Among the Government agencies providing these
programmes are the Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Human
Resources (MOHR), Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Ministry of Rural
Development (MORD) and Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS).

2.20 Efforts by the government are supplemented by increasing

participation from private training institutions. This will provide opportunity
for more youths and adults to participate in skills training to meet the
demand for skilled manpower. Measures undertaken to increase private
sector participation in training programmes is in the form of the Human
Resources Development Fund (HRDF) established in 1993 by the Ministry
of Human Resources.

2.21 Standards and quality of the training programmes are maintained

through the National Industrial Training and Trade Certification Board
(NITTCB) established by the National Advisory Council for Industrial
Training. The NITTCB sets a common trade standard for all training
programmes. It also serves to review and to improve such training
programmes. Certification for most courses is through the NITTCB and the

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2.22 Programmes in propagating better living undertaken by various

government agencies emphasizes on enhancing family well being, health
and civic consciousness among the participants as well as promoting
income-generating activities. The main strategies of the programmes are
based on the potential, needs and requirements of the community.
Financial assistance and other incentives are also given to participants.
More specific programmes as mentioned in para 1.27 are; the Family
Development Programme, the Adult Education Programme and the
Religious and Moral Education Programme.

=    a .  a a

3.1 In 1987, Malaysia established its National Co-ordination Committee for

the Asia-Pacific Programme of Education for All (APPEAL). The task of
the committee was to co-ordinate the implementation of programmes that
would meet the goals of achieving universal primary education,
eradicating illiteracy, and providing continuing education. To this effect,
the Committee meets biannually to discuss progress of projects and
activities undertaken during each administrative year.

3.2 The Committee lead by the MOE comprises the following ministries
and agencies:

u Ministry of Rural Development (MORD)

u Ministry of National Unity and Community Development
u Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS)
u Ministry of Information (MOI)
u Ministry of Enterpreneurial Development (MED)
u Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR)
u Universiti Malaya (UM)
u Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

3.3 EFA programmes initiated through the committee are incorporated into
the administrative functions of these ministries and agencies. Each
ministry and agency has its own technical working group that forms a
mechanism for co-ordinating and monitoring programmes at the national,
state and district levels, using its own modalities and indicators. The main
programmes that are undertaken by the various ministries and agencies
are as follows:

' "

u Ministry of Education (MOE)

u Ministry of Rural Development (KEMAS)
u Ministry of National Unity and Community
Development (National Unity Departmnet)

u Associations, private agencies and religious bodies

u Ministry Of Education (MOE)
u Private Agencies and Religious Bodies


u Ministry of Rural Development (Community Development



u Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS)

u Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR)
u Ministry of Rural Development (KEMAS)
u Ministry of Enterpreneurial Development (MARA)
u Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)

3.4 The policies and plans for EFA are set based on the NDP, the Outline
Perspective Plan (OPP), and the five year plan, approved by the Cabinet,
and Parliament of Malaysia; the nation¶s highest decision making body.

s  '

4.1 The MOE plays a dominant role in the education enterprise in

providing education and training to meet development and manpower
needs of the country. In doing so, there is close co-operation with other
governmental agencies, private enterprises, non-governmental
organisation, community-based organisation, religious institutions and
industries. These agencies carry out parallel programmes to supplement
the MOE¶s efforts.

4.2 An example of such co-operation is in strenghtening the early

childhood education programme to ensure young children have access to
quality childhood development programmes. The government is working
closely with private institutions and NGOs to bridge gaps between various
agencies organising child care centres and kindergartens. This is
important because each establishment has its own style of management,
organisation, mode of operation, training, and so forth.

4.3 A National Committee was set up to co-ordinate matters concerning

early childhood education including the curriculum, the training and the
development of the overall programme. In addition, sub-committees with
the same role and function have also been set up at state levels. The
effort of the committee has resulted in the development of the Pre-school
Curriculum Guidelines by MOE. All ECD centres currently use the
guidelines. The curriculum guidelines contains the philosophy, long-and
short term goals; objectives of the programme; identifying the different
skills components to be imparted as well as the suggested list of books
and other resources to help teachers of pre-school centres.

4.4 Malaysia receives external aid for education and training in the form of
technical assistance and investment programmes. The World Bank and
the Asia Development Bank, still remain the major source of external
assistance. Bilateral assistance is also available. The principal sources
are Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom which focus on industrial and
vocational training, human resources planning and research as well as
higher education. The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the
United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO)
provide support for ECD programmes.

1  /

5.1 In terms of new investments, primary schools have seen the

introduction of science, living skills and music into their curriculum
together with the greater emphasis on language teaching and the use of
information technology in education.

5.2 The development of Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) and the rapid
increase in the use of information technology is creating a major challenge
for the educational system. As the pioneer for making a world-class quality
education centre a reality in Malaysia, the MOE has initiated the Smart
School Programme and encouraged the use of multimedia and other
materials in the teaching and learning process. As the children at the pre-
school classes are feeders to the programmes, the government has given
more allocation to improve the educational infrastructure e.g. the building
of new schools, updating materials and resources for teaching and
learning e.g. developing CD-ROMs, and in getting teachers to participate
in childcare courses.

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