Education is the responsibility of the Government and it is committed to providing a sound education to all. The Malaysian education system encompasses education beginning from pre-school to university. Pre-tertiary education (pre-school to secondary education) is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education (MOE) while tertiary or higher education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). The vision of the Government is to make Malaysia a centre of educational excellence.
Primary and Secondary Education
Primary education (a period of 6 years) and secondary education (5 years which encompasses 3 years of lower secondary and 2 years of upper secondary) make up 11 years of free education.
The admission age to the first year of primary education is seven. Primary schooling is mandatory for all children between the ages of 7 and 12. Students sit for common public examinations at the end of primary, lower secondary and upper secondary levels.
Upon completion of secondary education, students can opt to pursue 1 to 2 years ofpost-secondary education. This is the university entrance preparatory course. In total, the 12 years of school education serves as the basic entry requirement into Year One of a bachelorís degree programme in higher educational institutions.
At tertiary education level, institutions of higher learning offer courses leading to the awards of certificate, diploma, first degree and higher degree qualifications (at academic and professional fields). The duration of study for a basic bachelor degree programme is 3 years and the courses of study at this level are provided by both the public and private education sectors, attracting many international students.
Tertiary education providers consist of two major groups :
Public (government-funded) institutions of higher learning, for example, public universities, polytechnics, community colleges and teacher training institutes.
Private (private-funded) higher educational institutions (PHEIs), for example, private universities, private university colleges, foreign branch campus universities and private colleges.
The Government provides more than 95% of primary and secondary education as well as about 60% of the tertiary education, with the private sector providing the balance.
The private education providers in Malaysia can be broadly grouped into 2 categories, depending on the levels of education offered, ranging from pre-school to tertiary education. These two categories of private institutions are :
Private Educational Institutions (PEIs) which provide education at preschool, primary and secondary levels. They comprise private schools and foreign system schools.
Private Higher Educational Institutions (PHEIs) which provide tertiary education leading to the awarding of certificate, diploma and degree qualifications.