The 1996 Education Act and the 1957 Constitution of Malaysia with amendments through 2007 neither mention information and communication technology (ICT) nor education technology (EdTech).
The 1996 Education Act does not define distance education, but it does provide a meaning for distance education centres. According to the Act, a distance education centre is a place, an organization or an institution providing instruction or teaching exclusively either through the medium of electronics and correspondence or partly through the medium of electronics and partly through correspondence or other methods of instruction.
The terms ICT, blended learning, and distance education are used in several government plans and reviews, such as the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint Plan, Malaysia's 11th 2016-2020 National Development Plan, Malaysia's 2021 Voluntary National Review (VNR), the 2030 Shared Prosperity Vision Development Plan, with no specific definition of the terms provided. The term education technology (EdTech) is not used in the plans and reviews mentioned earlier. However, Malaysia Qualification Agency (MQA) has described e-learning and open & distance learning (ODL) in their 2019 Code of Practice for Open Distance Learning which has been adopted by the higher education sector (i.e. universities and colleges offering tertiary education).
Constitution and laws: There is no reference to technology in the 1957 Constitution of Malaysia with amendments through 2007 and the 1996 Education Act.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2010 National Policy on ICT in Education aims at leveraging the use of ICT as an enabler for education to create, promote and sustain the development of a knowledgeable, innovative and creative society which ultimately supports the national agenda of attaining a knowledge-based economy.
The Ministry of Education is finalising a Digital Education Policy, with the draft expected to be presented to the cabinet soon. According to the Minister of Education, "the focus given in the policy is improving students' proficiency in digital technology, enriching digital content with quality, empowering teachers' competency, making digital technology usage a culture among education leaders, enabling digital info-structures and infrastructures under the ministry and strengthening strategic networks among competent partners".
Malaysia's 12th 2021-2025 National Development Plan recognised the role of technology in education through the emerging technologies for TVET and the introduction of the Digital Education Strategy to accelerate digitalisation in the education agenda.
The 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint Plan adopted eleven shifts to transform the education system. The effective and meaningful use of technology is required to provide equal access to quality education of an international standard, ensure that every child is proficient in Bahasa Malaysia and the English language and is encouraged to learn an additional language, and scale up quality learning across Malaysia. Further, the Blueprint emphasizes access to online learning and online education by boosting connectivity and empowering education centres and educators to adopt digital technologies to carry out online teaching.
Digital competency frameworks: Malaysia has not yet developed its digital competency framework. But the country adheres to the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) framework.
The Department of Skills Development (DSD) (formerly known as the National Vocational Training Council (MLVK) is a Department under the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR)) that officially recognises five International Computer Driving License (ICDL) modules, which will be widely used by all the Department of Skills Development (DSD) accredited institutes, government agencies, organisations (public and private companies) and individuals in Malaysia. The 5 modules are computer essentials, online essentials, word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation.
The strategic collaboration between ICDL Asia and the Department of Skills Development (DSD) aims to improve digital literacy, competency and qualification for Malaysia through the ICDL programmes (the international digital skills standard). This collaboration helps in supporting the National Transformation Program (NTP) under the Malaysia Plan 11 (RM-11) in developing highly digitally skilled talents of the workforce before the year 2020. Eventually, this joint effort will close or reduce the gaps to achieve the Industrial Revolution 4.0 challenge in Malaysia.
Malaysia is currently drafting the Digital Education Framework which was aimed at creating a digital-savvy generation by nurturing talents with knowledge, skills and ethics in the usage of technology.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: There are no changes that have occurred in laws, policies, plans and strategies as a result of COVID-19.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: Upgrading basic infrastructure facilities ) for all schools, such as electricity supply, has been one of the strategic priorities of many education development plans in Malaysia. The infrastructural facilities for schools are reviewed every five years and included in each national development plan. The 2006-10 Education Development Master Plan emphasised 24-hour electricity supply to improve basic infrastructure facilities. While the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint plan mentions at least 12 hours of electricity per day. Malaysia's 11th 2016-2020 National Development Plan ensured the provision of electricity supply to 36,800 houses in rural areas. In the current 12th 2021 – 2025 National Development Plan, was planned to achieve the target of 99% electricity coverage in rural areas.
Computers and devices: The Smart School roadmap, introduced in 2005, committed to providing one computer to every 20 students, along with internet access.
During Wave 1 (2013-2015) of the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint Plan, the Ministry of Education focused on delivering more ICT devices that are not necessarily computers (such as tablets or smartphones) to students and teachers and experimented with utilising new, less resource-intensive alternatives for ICT facilities compared to current computer labs, such as a lending library for notebooks and computers-on-wheels. Moreover, the Ministry of Education explored a "bring your own device" scheme to leverage students' existing devices, including computers and mobile phones. The Tabung Cerdik initiative was announced by the government during the tabling of the 2021 Budget on Nov 6 last year and was rolled out in February this year. The initiative involves 13 government-linked investment companies (GLICs) and government-linked companies (GLCs) contributing a total of RM150 million for the distribution of laptops to 150,000 students in 500 schools.
Besides laptops, the initiative provides tablets and data connectivity to students from lower-income families to help them with e-learning and outside-classroom teaching. The initiative has the support of companies under Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Permodalan Nasional Bhd, the Employees Provident Fund and Petroliam Nasional Bhd.
In Wave 3 (2021 – 2025) of the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint Plan, the main focus of the Ministry of Education will be on scaling up and intensifying ICT usage among students and teachers and ultimately bringing the device to student ratio in line with leading countries such as South Korea.
Internet connectivity: The Ministry of Education has identified leveraging ICT to scale up quality learning across Malaysia in the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint Plan as one of 11 shifts that address at least one of the five education system outcomes: access, quality, equity, unity, and efficiency. The roadmap to leverage ICT is divided into significant stages of development known as "Waves."
Under Wave 1 (2013-2015), the main priorities of the Ministry of Education were to ensure students and teachers have sufficient access to ICT devices and provide the education system with a learning platform and adequate network bandwidth to use ICT services. Under the project 1BestariNet, initiated by the Ministry of Education, 10,000 primary and secondary public schools in Malaysia were equipped with 4G Internet access.
Improving internet accessibility is also mentioned in the 2030 Shared Prosperity Vision Development Plan in Guiding Principle 4, but no emphasis is given to schools.
The National Digital Network (JENDELA) initiative, announced by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on August 29, 2020, is a part of the 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-2025). With a budget of RM21 billion, the plan aims to improve digital connectivity in Malaysia by enhancing national infrastructure efficiency and optimizing spectrum usage. The education sector is one of the focus areas of JENDELA. In terms of education and productivity, the availability of broadband services networks will ease the conduct of online learning for both students and teaching staff at the school and university levels.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
During Wave 1 (2013-2015) of the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint Plan, a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) where teachers, students and parents can use and share learning resources, run interactive lessons, and communicate virtually was established by the Ministry of Education under the project 1BestariNet. Moreover, the Ministry of Education explored ICT solutions, including virtual delivery of lessons and online adaptive learning tools as an enhancement activity to classroom learning for groups with particular needs, such as under-enrolled schools or Sekolah Kurang Murid (SKM) and rural schools and gifted students. Under-enrolled schools benefited from a new School Improvement Toolkit that is designed with the unique challenges of SKMs in mind and from the introduction of ICT innovations such as distance and blended learning. Teachers in these schools were also trained to teach multi-grade classes.
Furthermore, during this wave, the Ministry of Education aimed to enhance the e-learning video library for students on EduWebTV to ensure that short videos covering subjects Bahasa, Malaysia, English language, Science, and Mathematics are of high quality and drawn from other websites that offer similar e-learning content such as the Khan Academy or Learnzillion videos for mathematics and science. Engaging local terrestrial and satellite television stations to develop options for televising events like science fairs and robotics competitions and collaborating with museums and science centres were of the utmost importance to the Ministry during the first wave of the plan. Additionally, the Ministry explored expanding its pusat sains bergerak (Science on Wheels) programme to encompass schools in more rural and remote areas.
In Wave 2 (2016 - 2020) of the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint Plan, the transformation of ICT usage in the classroom, such as through EduWeb TV, was executed. During this wave, the Ministry of Education piloted and launched ICT education programmes to create interactive, culturally relevant content for indigenous students and improve access to high-quality learning materials for students located in remote regions.
In 2019, the Ministry of Education also launched its online learning platform called the Digital Educational Learning Initiative Malaysia (Delima). The platform is averaging 1.7M monthly active users to date, making it one of the largest national deployments in the world, and has engaged 10,000 schools, 370,000 teachers and 2.5 million students throughout the country.
During the pandemic, in Malaysia, the educational television program slots were organized by a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Communication. A program named TV Pendidikan started on April 4, 2020, via TV Okey and was broadcasted by the Malaysia Radio Television (RTM). Private television Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd. (Astro) also collaborated with the Ministry of Education to broadcast their education television program slot starting from May 4, 2020, namely Tutor TV.
Malaysia’s Digital Economy Blueprint has laid out the following initiatives for all students to have access to online learning: 1) Introduce the “My Device” programme to ensure all students in Malaysia can access digital learning; 2) Introduce digital packages to ensure all schools in Malaysia have good connectivity; 3) Introduce the “My Digital Teacher” programme to encourage teachers to fully embrace the use of digital tools and technology.
According to subsection 18(2) of the 1996 Education Act, science and mathematics are essential core subjects for learners at the primary and secondary levels.
Cultivating the culture of embracing 21st-century skills among students is one of the critical goals of the 2010 National Policy on ICT in Education.
During Wave 1 (2013 - 2015) of the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint Plan, the Ministry of Education reviewed the existing primary and secondary school Science and Mathematics curricula based on international standards. The reviewed curriculum emphasised higher-order thinking skills such as analysing, critical thinking, hypothesising, and decision-making. The curriculum also aimed to encourage project-based and inquiry-based learning, for instance, through the increased use of laboratory work, student-directed inquiry, and ICT games-based instructional materials.
Wave 1 of the plan also explored the possibilities of providing tax relief for parents with children in the Science stream and increasing the monthly scholarship amount for Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM)/Malaysian Higher School Certificate students in the Science stream. Other incentives included awards for outstanding STEM teachers.
Wave 2 (2016 - 2020) of the plan mainly focused on upgrading existing science equipment and facilities in schools to ensure optimal teaching and learning of STEM, extending the Ministry's STEM awareness programmes to primary school students and their parents, and encouraging teachers and students to take more significant advantage of informal learning centres such as Petrosains and the National Science Centre.
The 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint Plan also recognises the active role of parents in their child's learning and aims to strengthen the parent-teacher association or Persatuan Ibu Bapa dan Guru (PIBG) that provides input on school-based management matters and parent toolkits to support student learning. To support student learning, parents will be offered online access to their child's progress on school-based and national assessments (via the School Examination Analysis System or Sistem Analisis Peperiksaan Sekolah (SAPS)), and parents will also be supported by initiatives that promote adult literacy, ICT and parenting skills.
Developing new curricula and embedding the skills and competencies identified as essential for success in today's globalised environment, for example, the continued emphasis on science practical lessons and the use of ICT, is one of the main priorities of the Ministry of Education during Wave 3 (2021-2025) of the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint Plan.
Malaysia's 2021 Voluntary National Review (VNR) highlights the importance of STEM education in fostering the knowledge and skills needed to capitalise on the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The review also emphasises the importance of lifelong learning and digital literacy to achieve sustainable growth and fair and equitable distribution across all levels by 2030, as mentioned in the 2030 Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV 2030).
Malaysia's 11th 2016-2020 National Development Plan also highlighted the importance of STEM to improve the quality of education for better student outcomes and institutional excellence.
The 1996 Education Act emphasises the importance of upgrading teachers' technical and vocational skills in polytechnic institutions only.
The 2010 National Policy on ICT in Education aims to develop 21st-century skills from the ministry level to the school level including the heads of schools and education institutions, teachers, ICT coordinators, and ICT technicians.
During the implementation of Malaysia's 11th 2016-2020 National Development Plan a comprehensive, competency-based professional development programme was rolled out for in-service teachers and school leaders. These programmes were delivered by a pool of skilled master trainers and conducted in selected institutes of teacher education (ITE) and Pusat Latihan Guru dalam Perkhidmatan (PLGDP), based on teacher and school needs. In addition, each PLGDP will specialise in specific topics: STEM for PLGDP Northern Zone, educational technology for PLGDP Central Zone, language and LLL for PLGDP Eastern Zone, and social science and humanities for PLGDP Southern Zone.
In Wave 1 of the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint plan, the Ministry of Education enhanced its existing set of training programmes to ensure that all teachers meet a minimum level of ICT literacy, based on ICT competency developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), by the end of 2015. ISTE has established a set of internationally recognised benchmarks known as the National Education Technology Standards (NETS). These benchmarks include facilitating and inspiring student learning and creativity, designing and developing digital-age learning experiences and assessments, modelling digital age work and learning, promoting and modelling digital citizenship and responsibility, and engaging in professional growth and leadership.
The Ministry of Education, together with UNICEF Malaysia, has developed online resources and training to assist teachers in conducting online teaching and learning with the Digital Learning Teachers Community.
Malaysia’s Digital Economy Blueprint has introduced the “My Digital Teacher” programme to encourage teachers to fully embrace the use of digital tools and technology.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 1997 Computer Crime Act and the 1999 Consumers Protection Act appear to have addressed the issue of data privacy to some extent by specifying penalty clauses for unlawful acquisition and illegal interception of data and unauthorised disclosure of information. However, both acts do not mention data privacy from the use of technology in education.
Malaysia's first comprehensive personal data protection legislation, the 2010 Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which deals with personal data and focuses on regulating the processing of "personal data" in commercial transactions, requires a private higher educational institution registered under the 1996 Private Higher Educational Institutions Act and private schools or private educational institutions registered under the Education Act 1996 to register under the 2010 Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). According to the Act, the Personal Data Protection Commissioner can undertake research into and monitor developments in the processing of personal data, including technology, to consider any effects such developments may have on the privacy of individuals concerning their data. Note that the act does not mention students and teachers.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
Despite the absence of a specific cyberbullying law, Malaysia has two national-level programmes that address cyber safety issues. One is the Cyber Security Awareness for Everyone (CyberSAFE) programme is an initiative by CyberSecurity Malaysia (a national cybersecurity agency under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM)). The programme seeks to enhance the awareness of the general public on the technological and social issues facing internet users, particularly regarding the risks they face online. The mission of the CyberSAFE programme is "to impart practical knowledge on cyber safety and provide necessary information and resources to a wide spectrum of the community to ensure their online experience is positive and secure".
Under the CyberSAFE programme is the CyberSAFE in Schools programme, a joint effort by a primary telecommunications provider, DiGi Telecommunications, and Cybersecurity Malaysia, Childline Malaysia, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the Ministry of Education. The CyberSAFE in Schools programme seeks to educate school children in Malaysia on cyber safety and other child welfare issues. It reaches out to school children in Malaysia through various methods, including school outreach programmes using CyberSAFE ambassadors and teacher training workshops. In 2014, the programme extended its outreach through six pilot workshops at People’s Housing Programme communities. It also trained more than 130 ICT teachers and engaged with 38,000 students and more than 4,100 schoolteachers. In addition, in 2014, the CyberSAFE in Schools programme conducted an in-depth study that surveyed the internet-related behaviour of almost 14,000 Malaysian school children. The CyberSAFE in Schools programme has produced various books such as the ''Guide to Mobile Internet Safety'' and has created videos (available on YouTube) that deal with such topics as cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking and cyber-grooming. The programme also maintains an interactive website on which children can register and learn about cyber safety through contests, games and videos.
The other national programme - 'Klik Dengan Bijak/Click Wisely' (KDB) Programme does not specifically refer to schools but is of utmost importance to address cyberbullying. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) introduced the 'Klik Dengan Bijak/Click Wisely' (KDB) Programme in July 2012 to educate and raise awareness about the safe and positive use of the internet while at the same time reminding the public to be wary of cybercrimes. The programme is also supported by other ministries: Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science, Innovation and Technology, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Royal Malaysian Police, National Service Training Department and the Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia.
In collaboration with internet Service Providers, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has implemented a "Parental Control Tools initiative" to give internet users, especially parents, the ability to monitor and filter content accessed by their families and children to prevent the spread of harmful content.
Besides the police, reports of cyberbullying can be made to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Kasih 15999 hotline, Mercy Malaysia, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram and the Malaysia Computer Agency Response Team (MyCERT) Cyber999. Last but not least, the Government of Malaysia, in partnership with international organizations: INTERPOL, UNICEF and ECPAT International, is conducting a study (expected to be completed by the first half of 2022), "Disrupting Harm: Evidence to Understand Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse", to address child online protection.
Malaysia's 11th National Development Plan 2016-2020 also stressed the need for creating safer online environments for students.
Pursuant to the 1998 Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act, the role of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is to implement and promote the Government's national policy objectives for the communications and multimedia sector. The Commission is also charged with overseeing the new regulatory framework for the converging telecommunications and broadcasting industries (for example, DiGi Telecommunications which is running the CyberSAFE in Schools programme in partnership with other government stakeholders) and online activities.
Under the purview of the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR), Malaysia and regulated under the 2006 National Skills Development Act, the Department of Skills Development (DSD) is the national and certification body that responds to manage, coordinate and promote digital skills training program and career development based on digital skills competencies in Malaysia.
The Education Resources and Technology Division (Bahagian Teknologi Pendidikan (BTP)) is responsible for planning and monitoring the computer labs and school-based ICT infrastructure delivery.
Furthermore, according to the 2010 National Policy on ICT in Education, the Educational Resources and Technology Division (ETD)'s prominent roles and responsibilities include “analyzing and defining technological and infrastructural requirements based on user requirements and feedback from the community of practice (COP); determining the specifications for procurement of technology and infrastructure including ICT hardware, tools and applications; planning and strategizing regarding the development of teaching and learning materials per user requirements; disseminating the most-updated teaching and learning materials to all the schools and education institutions; preparing and providing guidelines for teachers on the use of technology; coordinating and updating training agencies with the latest development on the integration of ICT in education”.
According to the 2010 National Policy on ICT in Education, the Institute of Teacher Education (ITE) is responsible for “conducting and managing teachers' pre-service training programs and assisting teachers in developing skills to integrate ICT in education to improve student outcomes, inculcating the culture of integrating ICT in education as part of the daily teaching and learning process, training teachers on how to use ICT to improve students' creativity, innovativeness, analytical skill and problem-solving skill”.
The 2010 National Policy on ICT in Education also defines the roles and responsibilities of the Aminuddin Baki Institute (ABI) in conducting and managing training for in-service training programs and assisting heads of schools and education institutions in developing skills to manage an ICT in Education environment; training heads of schools and education institutions on inculcating the culture of integrating ICT in education among teachers and students as part of the daily teaching and learning process; training heads of schools and educational institutions on how to encourage teachers to use ICT to improve students' creativity, innovativeness, analytical skill and problem-solving skills.
In the Circular Number 2 of 2018: Guidelines for the Implementation of the Policy on Pupils Bringing Personal Devices to School, the Ministry of Education has set guidelines on the usage of digital devices for learning purposes in schools. The guidelines do not specify a ban on the usage of digital devices.
This profile was reviewed by Nantha Kumar Subramaniam.