- Early childhood care and education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Primary and secondary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Tertiary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
The 1996 National Education Act, which covers early childhood care and education to tertiary education includes within the National Education System three categories of educational institutions: government educational institutions, government-aided educational institutions and private educational institutions. The National Education Act (1996), defines a ‘private school’ or ‘private educational institution’ as a school or educational institution which is not a government or government-aided school or educational institution”. Private schools also include the international and expatriate schools. Government-aided schools are defined as those institutions which receive a capital grant and full grant-in-aid. Similarly, the Private Higher Education Institutions Act (1996 as lastly amended in 2017) defines private higher educational institutions as one not established or maintained by the government and only defines a company as one that established a private higher educational institution.
The state schools consist of three categories which are government school, government-aided schools and private schools. Bahasa Malaysia is the medium of instruction in all national schools, whereas Mandarin and Tamil are used in the national-type schools. Most schools from primary to upper secondary education (11 years, 6-16 years-old) are owned and managed by the state (10,224 schools) although only primary education (6 years, beginning at age 6) is free and compulsory.
National religious schools include those under the Ministry of Education (MoE) (285 primary and secondary religious schools in total), the State Religious Department and the private religious schools (3,437 primary and secondary religious schools in total). As all schools in Malaysia, religious schools must follow the national curriculum although some religious schools also teach the religious (dini) curriculum. Religious stream classes (Kelas Aliran Agama (KAA)) have been introduced in national secondary schools.
Non-state managed, state schools
In 2011, the Ministry of Education (MoE) introduced the Trust School Framework to enable Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the management of selected primary and secondary government schools. The non-profit partner, Yayasan AMIR, has the autonomy to manage schools, such as appoint private consultants and make decisions on curricula, in exchange for greater accountability in improving students and teachers’ outcomes. The MoE seeks to have 500 Trust Schools in operation by 2025 including under-performing schools, under-enrolled schools and schools catering to groups with specific needs such as indigenous and other minority groups, students with special needs, and those living in rural areas. Similar PPP programs have been introduced including the “School in Hospital” (SDH) program which is, a collaboration between the MoE, the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MoH), and private companies.
Non-state funded, state schools
No information was found.
Independent, non-state schools
Private education institutions are referred to as academic schools, and they conform with the national education philosophy and align with national aspirations, private schools are required to teach the national curriculum for at least the six core subjects identified in the 1996 National Education Act and follow the regulations from the MoE (Part VII).
Independent Chinese schools are one of the largest components of the non-state provision in Malaysia, especially in secondary education, with 58.29% of total student enrolment in private institutions. They are owned by private institutions and managed by an independently appointed Board of Trustees and funded through tuition fees and philanthropic contributions.
International schools are not included in the national education system in Malaysia (Section 15) although considered by the government as key sectors for economic growth. International schools are owned, managed, and funded by companies that are registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM). These type of schools use international curricula such as the British, American, Australian, Canadian, or International Baccalaureate program, and English as the medium of instruction. In addition, there is a growing number of urban private religious schools (sekolah agama swasta (SAS)) (98 schools) that closely resemble international schools and do not receive government grants.
State-funded (government-aided), non-state schools
Schools built on private land in receipt of direct financial aid from the ministry are called government-aided schools. These schools include several types: mission (Christian), conforming Chinese (i.e. private Chinese schools that agree to conform to the national education policy), and religious schools (Islamic). The MoE aims to convert government-aided schools to state schools to unify the budget.
Government-aided religious schools (Sekolah Agama Bantuan Kerajaan (SABK)) are jointly controlled by the MoE and the state religious authority or school’s board of trustees (224 schools). SABK teach the national and religious (dini) curriculum. In addition, religious schools which are mostly small, rural, and under-resourced (Sekolah Agama Rakyat (SAR) and Sekolah Agama Persendirian (SAP)) receive some government financial assistance (Section 52). In response to the increasing demand for public religious secondary schools, the MoE introduced a registration program for SAN and SAR to convert these schools to SABK.
Contracted, non-state schools
No information was found.
Although the 1996 National Education Act obliges parents to send their children to primary schools, parents can apply for exemptions from the MoE. To be permitted to do so, parents must follow the national syllabus. While official statistics were not found on participation in homeschooling, non-government sources suggest families are opting for this option of education.
While no information was found in official statistical sources, the 1996 National Education Act refers to unregistered educational institutions and the consequences for being unregistered.
In Malaysia non-state education provision from preschool to post-secondary education is under the jurisdiction of the Private Education Division in the MoE while tertiary education is under the responsibility of the Private Standards Division (BSS) in the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE). Additional ministries and agencies are involved in education provision, such as the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (MWFCD), its Department of Social Welfare, and Ministry of Rural Development in the case of early childhood care and education, and the State Religious Department in the case of religious schools. The 1996 National Education Act formally recognized preschool education as part of the education system and is overseen by the Ministry of Education, the Public Welfare Department, the National Unity and Integration Department and the State Religious Department.
Vision: The Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (Preschool to Post-Secondary Education) speaks to the continued interest to engage with the private sector to improve the education system in Malaysia: Expand Trust School model to 500 schools by 2025 by including alumni groups and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), as potential sponsors. A greater diversity of private and social sector entities will have the opportunity to get involved in the school improvement process. This will be done through the expansion of the Trust Schools programme which enables a private sponsor to partner with school leadership to manage a school. In addition, the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) also refers to the important role that private sector plays in education.
Early childhood care and education (ECCE) refers to childcare centres (0-3 years-old) and pre-school (2 years, beginning at age 4). Provision of childcare centres in Malaysia is made up of government-owned centres (Taska), private institutions, private religious institutions, home-base centres, tahfiz centres (Islamic religious schools), creativity centers, tuition centers (which offer preschool education but do not label themselves as kindergartens or preschools), and unregistered preschools and home-schooled children. The MoE aims to achieve universal access at the preschool level by 2021 to ensure the balance of educational opportunities in urban and rural areas.
Registration and approval: Childcare centres are to be registered according to the guidelines set under the Childcare Centre Act 1984 which requires centres to be registered with the Department of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development. Childcare centers must comply with the obligations set by the 1984 Childcare Centre Act which include that all centers must be adequately staffed, in regard to the number and the qualifications (or experience) of the persons employed, must be adequately and suitably equipped and maintained, and must comply with any requirement relating to the structure, fire precautions, health, sanitation and safety. A register of all registered childcare centers is kept by the Director General. In the case of the establishment, operation and management of kindergartens, proprietors must follow the requirements set by the 1996 National Education Act, see Multi-level regulations.
Licence: When a childcare center is granted registration, and upon payment of a prescribed fee, the Director General issues a registration certificate in the prescribed form; every registration certificate is valid for twelve calendar months (Childcare Centre Act 1984, article 11)
Profit-making: No information was found.
Taxes and subsidies: To further promote equal access to preschool, the MoE provided Private Preschool Launching Grant from 2010 until 2016 to encourage the setup of private preschools.
Curriculum and education standards: For Kindergarten, the Standard National Preschool Curriculum (KSPK) is mandatory for both public and private preschools, the curriculum is holistic, with a focus on science, technology, communication, spirituality, attitude and values, humanities, physical development and aesthetics. The implementation of an additional curriculum such as Montessori, Waldorf/Steiner, Reggio Emilia, British Curriculum or companied curriculums requires approval from the Registrar General (Section 22). Languages other than the national language may be used as a medium of instruction in kindergartens, but where a kindergarten uses a language other than the national language, the national language shall be taught as a compulsory subject.
Teaching profession: The 1984 Childcare Centre Act dictates that childcare center must be adequately staffed, both as regards the number and the qualifications or experience of the persons employed. Kindergarten teachers must obtain a “Permit to Teach” and must be registered in the Registration of Teachers in order to teach.
Fee-setting: No information was found.
Admission selection and processes: No information was found.
Policies for vulnerable groups: To promote equity in ECE, the MoE provides financial support to low-income families who have their children attend private preschools. In 2015, the Ministry allocated a total of RM30.7 million in fee assistance which benefitted 32,772 children (Annual Report 2015).
Reporting requirements: No information was found.
Inspection: All Preschools will be inspected regularly by the Ministry or the Early Childhood Care and Education Council of Malaysia to ensure that they meet minimum standards. For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Child assessment: The MoE established the National Preschool Quality Standard (NPQS), an online self-assessment tool in 2015. The tool comprises five key quality areas: Teacher and Assistant quality, Governance, Curriculum, Preschool interaction, and Health, Nutrition and Safety.
Sanctions: According to the 1984 Childcare Centre Act dictates the Director General may cancel the registration wherever there has been any contravention of or non-compliance with any conditions imposed in respect of any requirements for registration.
Registration and approval: While all schools must register, different types of schools must adhere to different criteria and standards. For example, according to the MoE’s guideline, International schools (independent non-state schools) must: meet the minimum location, land and facility requirements; have a teacher - student ratio of 1:25 teach Bahasa Malay, Islamic education, and Malaysian history as compulsory subject for Malaysian students. They can be established by a company that is locally incorporated in Malaysia and the owner must be registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM). The letter of approval for establishment of a school is valid for a duration of two (2) years only, and any change of ownership or change in premise/ location is strictly NOT allowed within this period. However, guidelines for the establishment of government-aided or religious schools were not found. For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Licence: No information was found.
Profit-making: No information was found.
Taxes and subsidies: According to the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025), the per capita grant, which is the largest element of grant and covers the operational expense, is calculated as same formula as government and government-aided schools. The formula considers needs-based factors such as school size, subjects taken by students and number of students with special education needs. Teachers’ salaries are also fully covered by the MoE for grant-aided schools. However, the grants for development expenses, such as for construction, are limited to 80% of the incurred cost compared to the full coverage for state schools.
Curriculum and education standards: All school types must adhere to the National Curriculum which includes core subjects such as the National and English languages, Mathematics, Science and History, although government-aided schools may provide non-Islamic religious education (Section 51.). The national language should be the main language of instruction except in national schools where the medium of instruction is in Mandarin or Tamil, in which case the national language is taken as a core course (Section 17) Private secondary schools are also regulated to teach the subjects prescribed in the law (Section 75). Religious curriculum is under the administration of the State Religious Agencies although Islamic Education (for students professing the religion of Islam) and Moral Education (for students not of the Islamic faith) are part of the core subjects of the national curriculum. According to the Guidelines for the establishment of an international school, international schools may implement a foreign curriculum where the medium of instruction is in English; and is approved or subjected to conditions set by the Registrar General.
Textbooks and learning materials: No information was found.
Teaching profession: The National Education Act, (1996) establishes that every teacher must be registered in the Registration of Teachers and obtain a “Permit to Teach” in order to work as a teacher in both private or public schools. According to the Guidelines for the establishment of an international school, foreign teaching personnel is required to obtain MOE support letter to obtain the employment pass issued by the Malaysian Immigration Department (MID), must hold academic and professional qualifications, and secure a service contract with the school concerned and have obtained “Permit to Teach”.
Fee-setting: According to the Guidelines for the establishment of an international school, tuition fees of international schools must be relevant and reasonable in relation to the location and educational facilities provided for by the school. Any increase in fee should obtain prior approval from the Registrar General; with the condition that it can only be sought after three years of the previous approval, and only an increase not exceeding 30 percent is allowed. Additionally, schools cannot charge development or building funds as part of the fee.
Admission selection and processes: The selection and the enrolment process for each private school is managed entirely by the school/institution itself.
Policies for vulnerable groups: To prevent school dropout due to economic reasons, the MoE has implemented the Textbook Loan Scheme (SPBT) for students in government religious and non-religious schools, government-aided schools, and SAR. Government-aided schools can also receive financial aid from the Ministry’s Poor Students' Trust Fund (Kumpulan Wang Amanah untuk Pelajar Miskin (KWAPM)) to support low-income students. The MoE also provides various assistance schemes for low- and middle income families and for special education students. However, it is unclear if they are all applicable for private school students.
School board: According to the 1996 National Education Act (1996), all educational institutions must have a board of governors, with a chairman, for the management of the educational institution by the governors. The Guidelines for the establishment of an international school, dictates international schools must establish a Board of Governors (BOG) and should comprise a minimum of five (5) persons. The principal is automatically selected as the Secretary. A person representing the interest of native Bumiputera, must be a part of the members of Board of Governors.
Reporting requirements: All private schools must comply with the requirements of registering their teaching staff, administrative staff and student records.
School inspection: See Multi-level regulations.
Student assessment: The 1996 National Education Act (1996) dictates that the Minister may prescribe how pupils in educational institutions shall be assessed and the standards to be achieved by the pupils. All students must sit for an Open Certificate Examination (Malaysian Certificate of Education).
Diplomas and degrees: No information was found.
Sanctions: See Multi-level regulations.
While nearly half of Malaysian tertiary education institution are established and managed by private institutions, the market was restricted to the public until The Private Higher Education Institutions Act 1996 (Act 555). The Act was enacted to regulate and encourage the establishment of Private Higher Educational Institutions (PHEI) which are defined as private universities, university colleges, colleges and branches campus of foreign universities that is not established or maintained by the government (Section 2). As of March 2022, there were 20 public universities and 434 private higher educational institutions.
Registration and approval: The provider of PHEI must first incorporate a company under the Companies Act 2016 and request approval for establishment and provision of courses to the Registrar General appointed by the Minister (Section 3(1)). The Registrar General may impose conditions including requirements for admission and tuition fees (Section 40) and has the right to decide compulsory subjects (Subject 43). Once approved (and the payment of the prescribed fee), the application will be recommended to the Minister for final decision (Section 8). Subsequently, the company is required to register with the MOHE (Section 24).
Licence: No information was found.
Profit-making: No information was found.
Taxes and subsidies: The private higher educational institutions do not receive direct subsidies from the government, but they are incentivized through tax reductions.
Curriculum or learning standards: The MQA is responsible for implementing the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF) which is the reference point for the criteria and standards for national qualifications. The Education Programme Standards (EPS) contains criteria and procedures for quality assurance for teacher education in Malaysia. It provides guidelines for Higher Education Providers (HEPs) to design and deliver relevant programmes to produce professional educators for schools at all levels. The Private Higher Educational Institutions Act (1996 as amended in 2017) dictates that private higher educational institutions shall conduct their courses of study in the national language. However, with the minister's approval, private higher educational institutions may conduct courses of study or a substantial part of the course of study in any in any other language as it deems appropriate. . If any course of study or a substantial part of any course of study in any private higher educational institution is conducted in any language other than the national language, the national language shall be taught as a compulsory subject for the students following such course of study in such language.
Teaching profession: Teachers in PHEI must obtain a permit issued by the Registrar General (Section 51). The Malaysian Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 (Act 555) & Regulations requires any person who teach in a private higher educational institution to possess a valid permit to teach.
Fee-setting: No information was found.
Admission selection and processes: Subject to the provision of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, membership of a private higher educational institution, whether as an officer, teacher or student, shall be open to all persons irrespective of sex, race, religion, nationality or class. Additionally, no test of religious belief or profession shall be adopted or imposed in order to entitle any person to be admitted to such membership or to be awarded any degree, diploma or certificate nor shall any fellowship, scholarship, exhibition, bursary, medal, prize, other distinction or award be limited to persons of any particular race, religion, nationality or class.
Board: To assure that PHEIs are operating as the purpose of the Act, PHEI must appoint and register the Chief Executive who will be in charge of general management (Section 31, 33), and subject to inspection from the Registrar General (Section 64).
Reporting requirements: Private higher educational institutions must keep and maintain a register in a format prescribed by the Registrar General containing information on ‘(a) the students; (b) the persons who have been appointed to teach in the private higher educational institution; (c) the programmes conducted or provided by private higher educational institutions; (d) the persons who have been conferred with degrees at the doctoral level, including an honorary doctorate; (e) the persons who have been appointed as professors and include persons who have been conferred with the title of Professor Emeritus and (f) any other matter relating to the private higher educational institution which the Registrar General deems necessary.’ The register is to be accessible to the Registrar General as and when he requires it, and to be updated periodically as determined by the Registrar General (Private Higher Education Institutions Act 1996 amended 2017)
Inspection: To control and assure the quality for both public and private institutions of higher education, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) was approved by the Government on 21 December 2005 by merging the National Accreditation Board (LAN) and the Quality Assurance Division, Ministry of Higher Education (QAD). The MQA was established on 1 November 2007 with the coming in force of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency Act 2007. This entity is responsible for quality assurance of higher education for both the public and the private sectors. The main role of the MQA is to implement the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF) as a basis for quality assurance of higher education and as the reference point for the criteria and standards for national qualifications. The MQA is responsible for monitoring and overseeing the quality assurance practices and accreditation of national higher education.
Assessment: No information was found.
Diplomas and degrees: According to the Private Higher Education Institutions Act (1996 as amended in 2017) No private higher educational institution may award a degree unless such private higher educational institution is a University or a University College or a foreign branch campus. All certificates, diplomas and degrees shall only be awarded upon satisfying the minimum standards.
Sanctions: The Registrar General may, under the direction of the Minister, serve on a private higher educational institution a notice of intention to revoke or cancel the approval of such private higher educational institution if the Minister is satisfied that it is expedient so to do on any of the following grounds (a) that any false or misleading statement obtained the approval of such private higher educational institution, (b) that there has been a breach of any condition imposed by the Minister, (c) that the standard of education in such private higher educational institution is not adequately maintained or (d) that the private higher educational institution has been convicted for an offense under the law. A private higher education institution may also cease its operations on the board of directors decision, in which case, the institution must give notice of its intention at least for one calendar year before closing down.
While most of the regulations of non-state provision are specific to each education level, regulations regarding the establishment of non-state education institutions is specific to all education levels.
Registration and approval: The 1996 National Education Act regulates preschool education to higher education and prescribes the establishment requirements for education provision. All educational institutions must register with the Registrar General and follow the legal requirements and additional terms and conditions (Part VIII). The legal requirements include keeping standards of health and safety; sufficient educational facilities; and the qualification of the board of governors (Section 84). The education institution must also register the governors or individuals managing the education institution and employees (Section 88), students (Section 98), and teachers (Section 103). Specific requirement regarding infrastructure might be left to the local authorities, including the need for toilets in schools. All applications must be accompanied by the prescribed registration fee.
School inspection: To ensure the education quality, the Inspectorate of Schools (Jemaah, Nazir (JN)) of the MoE is fully responsible for monitoring preschools and schools. The inspection is conducted by the legally authorized Inspectors whose role includes providing advice to schools and submitting reports to the Minister (Part X). The JN conducts inspections at least once in 5 years for at least 70 percent of all preschools and schools. In carrying out the inspection, the Registrar General may enter any premises and examine books, documents, electronic media material or other articles as considered necessary.
Sanctions: According to the Education Law, the Registrar may refuse to register an educational institution (Section 84), close any unregistered educational institutions (Section 102) or cancel an educational institution registration when fail to comply with the requirements for the institution’s authorization. An individual who acts as the manager/administrator or worker at an educational institution that is not registered in accordance the regulations is deemed to have conducted an offence, which upon conviction can be fined or face imprisonment.
Private tutoring is perceived as a household necessity in Malaysia which is provided in various forms: private tuition centers, individualized or small group tutoring in a teacher’s or student’s home.
License to private tuition centers are given to institutions that provide tutoring based on Malaysian curriculum, which leaves other tutoring institutions out of their monitoring scope. In 2013, the MoE has formulated detailed regulations for establishing private tuition centers which is aligned with the regulations for private schools (independent non-state schools).
No information was found.
Although the MoE does not legally prohibit teachers from engaging in private tuition, the government restricted their service in 2006 by implementing a preliminary application system and limiting tutoring hours.
This profile was drafted by Miwa Okajima during her internship with the GEM Report. It has been reviewed by the Permanent Delegation of Malaysia to UNESCO.