In Malaysia, the Ministry of Education has the sole responsibility of providing education at the pre-tertiary level of education, which includes pre-school, primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels.
Apart from the ministry’s responsibilities of regulating the operations of all public and private-funded schools and homeschools in Malaysia, they have put in place a comprehensive schooling system from pre-school to secondary education.
A child’s education starts at pre-school at the age of four, and then he/she moves onto the first year of the 6-year compulsory primary education when the child reaches the age of seven.
From primary school, the child moves onto secondary school. At this level, most schools are government or government-aided schools.
However, many private schools in Selangor and homeschools in Malaysia are springing up to not only meet the demand of more affluent parents but to offer a better and more focused education to children by offering a richer curriculum.
Curriculum for Malaysian Schools
The National Curriculum provides a list of subjects for all levels of schooling. The subjects are categorised as follows:
- Core subjects: They are subjects that must be learned by school pupils in the government and private schools in Malaysia.
- Compulsory subjects: They are subjects other than the core subjects that must be learned by school pupils in government schools.
- Additional subjects: They are subjects taught following the Educational Act in government schools.
- Elective subjects: They are subjects other than the compulsory and core subjects that are chosen by pupils in the government school according to their interest, talent, ability, and potential.
In Malaysia, kindergartens adopt the National Pre-school Curriculum (NPC) set by the Ministry of Education. The curriculum enables pre-school children to acquire the required communication, personality development, social, and other positive skills that will make them prepared for primary school.
Primary School Curriculum
The national curriculum for primary schools in Malaysia is known as Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Rendah (KBSR). The primary education phase is separated into two parts – Phase I (Standard 1 to 3) and Phase II (Standard 4 to 6).
The first phase focuses on acquiring an active reading, writing, and arithmetic skills, while the second phase focuses on the mastery of the above skills and also to build a strong foundation in content and basic science.
The six years of primary schooling focuses on the development of personality, attitude, values, study skills, and thinking skills as well as the acquisition of knowledge and pre-vocational education.
Secondary School Curriculum
The secondary level of education focuses on the general development of students. It is also known as Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah (KBSM).
It aims to develop a broader base of intellectual capacity, self-confidence, and skills in the students, to cope with new areas of knowledge and technological knowledge, and teach values based on the National Philosophy of Education. The main goal is to develop a strong foundation for life-long education.
In public secondary schools, the medium of instruction is Bahasa Melayu, while the English Language is taught as a second language.
IGCSE for Malaysian Public Schools
Although students in public schools can sit for IGCSE, they are far less equipped for the exams due to many factors — from inexperienced teachers to unfavorable learning environments, overcrowded classrooms and poor student-teacher ratio.
IGCSE Private School Curriculum
Private schools in Malaysia are also expected to use the National Curriculum for primary and secondary education. The Malaysian curriculum for schools includes the Primary School Standard Curriculum or Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah and the Secondary Schools Standard Curriculum or Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Menengah.
These curriculums were enacted to ensure that students are taught the relevant knowledge, skills, and values needed in the 21st century.
Malaysian private schools offer a wide range of elective subjects, general co- and extracurricular activities, facilities for learning, sports, IT and the arts — much more than public schools. Many have longer study hours and smaller classes, and more attention is given to the students.
For example, the private schools in Selangor, Malaysia even provide regular reports for parents and place greater emphasis on the English language, using it as the primary medium of instruction, although these schools follow the Malaysian national curriculum.
Also, students who are enrolled in homeschools in Malaysia are better equipped to sit for the IGCSE because the private homeschools tend to model the school’s syllabus according to IGCSE standard, even though they operate under the jurisdiction of the Malaysian Education Board.
At the end of their schooling years, IGCSE private homeschools produce competitive students in later studies as well as in the workforce.
Because of the compulsory project work, experienced teachers, productive extra-curricular activities, and other educational programs included in the curriculum, private homeschools help the students to adapt better to university or college curriculum.