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Figure 6.2l Indicator 13 and 14 (Retention and Attrition Rate in Primary Schools – Cohorts 1989 - 1993)Not Available

6.59 The high percentage also bears a significant implication towards a high level of literacy rate achieved as a result of reliable primary education system.

6.60 Wastage in terms of student dropping out of the system occurs but at a minimum level. Figure 6.2l also shows the attrition rate of cohorts 1989 through 1993 at the primary education level. However it does not necessarily mean that the number indicates children actually dropping out of the education system. In Malaysia due to the flexibility of the education system, students are free to enter and exit public education and enter private establishments to pursue education. A number of private education enterprises offer varied facilities to cater to the different needs of parents. Parents play a major role in determining where their children would be educated. Hence, it may be assumed that wastage appearing in the data is an indication that, a certain portion of students have opted out of the public education system and joined the private system.

6.61 Percentage in retention rates varies between states and some may extend beyond 100 per cent. This is apparent in a number of states and is the result of the high mobility inter-states taking place. People seeking better prospects in other states contribute to the fluctuating percentage rates.

6.62 At the national level, a high coefficient of efficiency in primary education was recorded. For both sexes, in 1996, efficiency was at 98.5 per cent, with the male students recording a percentage of 95.7 per cent and female, 98.4 per cent. A small percentage of students dropping in and out of the system are the major contributor of efficiency not recorded at 100 per cent.

6.63 The MOE's policy of extending access to basic education has seen students assured of 11 years free basic education. Although education is not compulsory, this policy enables all students who wish to do so remain in school up to grade 11. Currently every pupil in the primary schools is assured of a place in secondary schools. As such, high transition rates from primary to secondary education may be observed in Table 6.2e. A high transition rate is a key indicator of the education system's internal efficiency.

Table 6.2e Transition from Primary to Lower Secondary Education


Transition Rate From

Primary Grade 6 To Lower Secondary Grade 7

( %)

















Source: Educational Management Information System, MOE

6.64 The high level in transition rate recorded for 1996 and 1997 may be traced to a high number of pupils elsewhere entering the public education system especially during the economic crisis.

Basic Learning Competencies

6.65 Learning achievement at the national level is measured through the Primary School Achievement Test (PSAT) administered in Year Six, the end of the primary school education. The PSAT or Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) assesses pupils' academic achievement in four main subjects namely, Bahasa Malaysia (National Language), English Language, Mathematics and Science. The objective of PSAT is to evaluate the achievement of primary students in reading, writing, scientific and numeracy skills in Malay and in the students' own language (Chinese or Tamil).

6.66 The PSAT is a Norm Reference Achievement Test. Therefore the data for Reading and Writing should not be equated with the level of literacy, as candidates who DID NOT meet the level of achievement set for a particular year may still be literate.

6.67 Results of the PSAT were used to measure learning achievement in three basic defined areas that is reading, mathematics and writing from 1994 through 1997. As in the other indicators, data made available covered only those in the public education only. The first of the three areas is discussed as follows.

6.68 Observed in Figure 6.3a is the high percentage of pupils who have mastered reading (comprehension) by the end of their sixth years of primary schooling. The percentage achieved has not been recorded to be below 90. It is interesting to note that the percentage female achievers in reading have surpassed that of their male peers throughout the period. This could be attributed to the biological and early cognitive development apparent in girls.


Total percentage of pupils who have mastered reading against total enrolment in Grade 6

** Total percentage of male students who have mastered reading against total enrolment of male pupils in Grade 6

*** Total percentage of female pupils who have mastered reading against total enrolment of female pupils in Grade 6

Source: Examination Syndicate, MOE

6.69 More than 80 per cent of the pupils surpassed the national minimum achievement level in reading (comprehension). There was however a slight reduction in percentage in 1995. For the year 1994, about 95 per cent of the total enrolment exceeded the minimum level of achievement, about 93 per cent in 1995, 96 per cent in 1996 and about 96 per cent in 1997.

6.70 In the writing domain, the 5-year trend as presented in Figure 6.3b shows an upward movement in pupils' performance even though there is a drop in percentage for the year 1998. In 1994, the percentage was 78.3 per cent, 1995 was 78.7 per cent, and 1996 was 80.4 per cent, 81.4 per cent in 1997 and 79.3 per cent in 1998.

* Total percentage of pupils who have mastered writing against total enrolment in Grade 6

** Total percentage of male pupils who have mastered writing against total enrolment of male pupils in Grade 6

*** Total percentage of female pupils who have mastered writing against total enrolment of female pupils in Grade 6

Source: Examination Syndicate, MOE

6.71 The PSAT also measures numeracy skills in mathematics. Figure 6.3c shows an upward trend in mastering numeracy skills for the first three years beginning 1994 but sees a slight drop in 1997. In 1994 about 88 per cent of the total enrolment achieved the minimum level of mastery in the said domain, gaining an increase of more than 92 per cent in 1995. A similar percentage was recorded in 1996 after which achievement dropped to 92 per cent. Again, the female pupils recorded impressive performance during the four years in record, in comparison to their male peers.

* Total percentage of pupils who have mastered mathematics against total enrolment in Grade 6

** Total percentage of male pupils who have mastered mathematics against total enrolment in Grade 6

*** Total percentage of students who have mastered mathematics against total enrolment in Grade 6

Source: Examination Syndicate, MOE

6.72 Just as in other skills, pupils' performance in Mathematics (numeracy skills) has also shown an upward trend. In 1994, 68.9 per cent of the total number of pupils managed to perform impressively exceeding the minimum achievement level. This performance improved further to 71.9 per cent in 1995, 77.5 per cent in 1996, 77.9 per cent in 1997 and 79.9 per cent in 1998. The percentage of achievers increased by more than 10 per cent since 1994.

6.73 Pupils' performance in science was first assessed in PSAT in 1997 after its introduction in the national curriculum. Data showed that for the two years (1997 and 1998), a 0.2 per cent increased was attained, 76.3 per cent of the students exceeded the minimum level in 1997 and 76.5 per cent in 1998.

6.74 National norms as perceived within the framework of Educational Testing are not present in the Malaysian school system. This is because the Malaysian school system adheres to a common, national curriculum and as such national norms are implicitly stated as curricular objectives in the curricular documents. The assessment system is based on the national curriculum thus all assessments carried out within the system reflects the needs and realisation of the curricular objectives. Therefore, National norms in the Malaysian context would be embedded in the learning outcomes stipulated in the national curriculum.

6.75 Also made available in the templates attached were the breakdown of the number of achievers according to the fourteen states. It may be observed in certain instances that the percentage of achievers in any one domain is more than 100 per cent in states such as Kedah. An explanation for this is the apparent high inter-state mobility or transfers in the particular year.

Adult Literacy

6.76 Figure 6.4a points to the increasingly high level of literacy among those aged 15+ in the country. The figure represents the attached template for indicators 16, 17 and 18 that was derived from data in relation to literacy made available by the Department of Statistics (DOS) and the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister's Department.

Source: Department of Statistic and Economic Planning Unit

6.77 Literacy rate for the 15 through 24-year age group is not available. Nevertheless, it could be inferred that the high literacy rate achieved has been the result of the existence of a high participation rate and retention in the primary education system in the country.

6.78 The general census, including a survey on literacy, carried out in 1980 showed the literacy rate is 72 per cent, an increase of 14 per cent from 58 per cent in 1970.

6.79 The last general census was carried out in 1991. A review of the characteristics of education amongst the population as revealed by the Population Census in 1980 and 1991 reveals some interesting features. The following summarises the highlights:

6.80 A study relating to reading habits in Malaysia undertaken by Frank Small & Associates (S.E Asia) Sdn. Bhd. in 1996 and published in "Profil Membaca Rakyat Malaysia, 1996" showed that for the category of population of 10+ and above, 93 per cent is able to read and no significant differences in the ability to read is apparent across gender.

6.81 Sampling of the study was targeted at 22,400 respondents aged 10+. The study was not specifically to determine literacy, however since literacy has a high degree of influence upon reading, subjective data was collected as a proxy indicator towards literacy. The term 'Literacy' as used by UNESCO refers to the "ability to read and write with understanding". However, for the purpose of the study the proxy indicator for literacy was used and this includes 'has reading ability or can read; has formal education and has at least some form of informal education.

6.82 The various programmes to eradicate illiteracy carried out by the government have achieved desirable results. Among the programmes that would be continued and expanded are the initiatives of the National Library in promoting reading habits.

6.83 Among the initiatives taken by the National Library are, it has increased collection with the acquisition of 15,920 new titles and publications and 750 rare collections comprising pre-19th century publications and 120 Malay manuscripts.

6.84 Access to library services was further improved with the completion of three new state libraries, two branch libraries located in mosques, an increase of about 34 per cent from 193 in 1996. Access to library facilities in rural areas also improved with the provision of 112 units of mobile libraries in 1998.

6.85 The computerisation and application of IT at the national and state libraries was further enhanced with all state libraries having created their homepage on the internet by the end of 1997. This has facilitated access to a wider network of library services and increased membership from two million in 1996 to 2.4 million in 1997 of whom 50 per cent of the total are children.

Basic Education and Skill Training Required By Youths and Adults

6.86 The youth population comprising those in the 15+ through 24 age group increased by 2.2 per cent per annum from 4.04 million in 1995 to 4.3 million in 1998. The focus of the youth development programme was aimed at inculcating positive values and providing skills development to enable them to contribute to nation building. In this regard, the National Youth Policy was reviewed in 1997 to give emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge, development of skills and entrepreneurship, healthy lifestyle, character-building, social interaction, development of smart partnership as well as international networking.

6.87 Skill training programmes for out-of-school-youths will continue to be conducted by various public and private skill-training institutes. Currently, under the 7MP, a total of 4,072 youths were trained in various fields including hospitality and IT at the national youth skill training institutes or the Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara (IKBN). Another 12,000 youths underwent short training courses in various trades conducted by the MOYS.

    1. The MOYS operates two types of training centres offering a wide range of employability skills training. The Ministry is building another eight IKBNs under the 7MP. Table 6.4a shows the number of centres run by the MOYS.

Table 6.4a Enrolment at Skills Training Centres Run By MOYS (1999)


Number of Centres


Institut Kemahiran Tinggi Belia Negara (IKTBN)


205 trainees

Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara (IKBN))


3,772 trainees

Source: Ministry of Youth and Sports

6.89 MARA, under the Ministry of Entrepreneurial Development (MOED), established several institutes in collaboration with foreign agencies as listed in Table 6.4b. These institutes offer courses at diploma level. In addition, the MOED manages eleven Institut Kemahiran MARA (IKM) and 120 Pusat Giat MARA which are located throughout the country to provide basic skill training, especially for rural youths.

Table 6.4b Enrolment In Skills Training Centres Run By MOED (1999)


Number of Centres


German-Malaysian Institute (GMI)


227 trainees

British-Malaysia Institute (BMI)


360 trainees

Malaysia-France Institute (MFI)


580 trainees

Pusat Giat Mara (PGM)



Institut Kemahiran Mara (IKM)



Source: Ministry of Entrepreneurial Development

6.90 Under the MOHR, there are nine Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and a Centre for Instructor and Advanced Skills Training (CIAST) as observed in Table 6.4c. Five new ITIs, five Advanced Technology Centres (ADTEC) including the Japan-Malaysia Technical Institute (JMTI) are being built under the 7MP. These new facilities, which will be ready by the year 2000, have a higher capacity in terms of student intake and are equipped with sophisticated facilities. The MOHR is also expanding the capacity and upgrading the facilities at the existing ITIs. By the year 2000, the MOHR alone will have a total combined workshop and training capacity for 17,000 full-time trainees, compared to the present capacity of 5000 full-time trainees. Table 6.4c shows the enrolment in training centres run by the MOHR.

Table 6.4c Enrolment in Training Centres Run by MOHR (1990-1999)



ITI (9 centres)

CIAST (1 centre)

JMTI (1 centre)









































Source: Ministry of Human Resource


7.1 Throughout the period between 1990 through 2000, EFA programmes have been formulated based on the thrust of increasing accessibility and improving quality of education at all levels. The accompanying indicators have pointed out effectiveness of the programmes planned and implemented. Although faced with financial constraints, objectives of the programmes were realised by exercising cost-effective measures and prioritising projects without compromising on accessibility and equity.

7.2 The growth of early childhood development programmes in Malaysia is increasingly significant as the enrolment for the childcare centres and the pre-school programmes are increasing every year. Close monitoring and enforcement by the MOE have succeeded in increasing awareness and confidence among parents that ECD is important in the formative years of their children.

7.3 At the primary level of education, facilities have been expanded at lower cost while various measures aimed at improving the teaching and learning process were carried out. This included reduction of class -size in overcrowded classes, amalgamation of small schools wherever feasible and improving class-teacher ratio. Besides reducing overcrowding in schools, the expansion of facilities has succeeded in improving accessibility in the rural areas, including estates and new villages.

7.4 Students from the lower income group and disadvantaged areas have increased access to basic education and benefit from the financial assistance and student-aid provided by the MOE through programmes such as the text-book loan scheme, supplementary feeding and intake into special schools for the physically challenged. In order to ensure safety of students in the interiors travelling to and from school by boats, life jackets have been supplied as of 1999.

7.5 Efforts in developing programmes initiated by the MOE have been well received by the private sector. Private sector participation in education and training has flourished in providing ECD programmes, primary and secondary education, and even tertiary education. Nevertheless, these complementing efforts have been subjected to close monitoring to ensure good quality education is achieved in line with national aspirations.


8.1 Educational development programmes have been effectively implemented with support from substantial budget allocations. Total annual educational (operating and development) expenditure in current prices increased from RM6, 032 million in 1990 to RM9,734 million in 1995. However, a major hiccup that jolted smooth implementation of EFA programmes was experienced almost towards the end of the decade. The financial crisis of 1997 has resulted in a sharp reduction in expenditure across the board; the education sector included.

8.2 The school construction programmes identified under the 7MP has been interrupted to a certain extent resulting in the delay in the construction of new classrooms, hostel facilities for rural students and housing for teachers in rural areas where private accommodation is unavailable. Nevertheless, access to basic education has not been seriously affected as established in the Project Implementation Plan, World Bank Education Sector Support Project, 1999.

8.3 Universal Primary Education has been a reality since 1990 with the enrolment rate of 99.8 per cent is a testimony to this fact.


9.1 Towards the end of 1995 and 1997, a number of legislative reforms were undertaken. The Education Act, 1996, the National Council on Higher Education Institiution Act, 1996, the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act, 1996, the National Accreditation Board Act 1996 and the Universities and Universities Colleges (Amendment) Act 1996 and the National Higher Education Fund Board Act, 1997 were passed in Parliament.

9.2 The Acts seek to introduce new legislations to provide for the implementation of an education policy to meet the needs of rapid developments in the country. The Education Act 1996 outlines a National System of Education, which provides for Bahasa Melayu as the main medium of instruction, a national curriculum and common examinations. It provides for a varied and comprehensive education that is expected to fulfil Malaysia’s needs and promote national unity through cultural, social, economic and political development.

9.3 A standardised pre-school curriculum known as "Peraturan-peraturan Pendidikan (Kurikulum Prasekolah 1997)" was gazetted on the 31 December 1997. On 27 November 1998 the MOE issued a circular on the usage of the Pre-school Curriculum Guidelines a guideline prepared by the CDC.

9.4 The reforms, among others, also provides for students to start primary education at the age of six and the compulsory registration of pre-schools which were formerly not governed by the regulations of MOE. In addition, emphasis is given to technical education together with greater government assistance for Islamic schools.

9.5 In the higher education sector, the most important new development is the provision for the setting up of private universities in Malaysia. A number of public corporations have been invited to establish Institutes of Higher Education offering courses in information technology and engineering. They are:

Currently, three foreign universities have established campuses in the country. They are:

9.6 In an effort to enhance the quality of higher education, the Private Institutions of Higher Learning Act provides for the regulations of the establishment, registration, management and supervision and control of private institutions by the MOE.

9.7 The government, particularly the MOE will continue to place emphasis on enhancing quality and access to education because education forms the foundation of the long-term national development. Education plays an important role in producing specialists and skilled workers needed for the nation to be able to compete internationally. The MOE has also implemented better-organised educational programs for the indigenous people and other marginal population groups in order to bring them at par with other students in the national education system.

9.8 With the implementation of the 7MP, efforts to expand and improve educational infrastructional facilities, especially in the rural areas, will continue. To contend with globalisation and modernisation, technological success and the application of information technology, the MOE has introduced the electronic resource centres in the schools. The MOE has also participated in the flagship application for the implementation of the MSC with the plan to establish the Smart Schools. The implementation of such schools is congruous with the NEP and the national vision.

9.9 Towards this end, education and training efforts for all are being taken and intensified, not only to equip individuals with the appropriate knowledge and skills but also to produce responsible citizens with strong moral and ethical values. In addition, such efforts will help develop a technically competent labour force that will be essential for the attainment of Vision 2020 , in making Malaysia a fully developed nation by the year 2020.


10.1 Since its independence, Malaysia has achieved much in education. The country can boast of an official literacy rate of 93 per cent. Student enrolment in primary schools is higher than 90 per cent of which around 92 per cent go on to secondary schools. Tremendous changes and development have taken place in education. A national system has evolved from a fragmented and diversified system of schooling. There is also a manifold increase in enrolment at all levels.

10.2 At the pre-school education level, the curriculum, facilities and teacher training in the public and private sectors were required to conform with the standards stipulated in the Education Act 1996. The number of children enrolled in pre-school centres increased from 253,675 in 1995 to 281,397 in 1998.

10.3 At the primary education level, the number of students enrolled at the primary level increased from 2.80 million in 1995 to 2.89 million in 1998. Emphasis was also placed on capacity expansion and improvements in teaching and learning facilities.

10.4 At the secondary education level, enrolment in government and government-aided schools increased from 1.63 million in 1995 to 1.74 million in 1998.

10.5 In anticipation of developments there was a need to review the Education Act of 1961. The reviewed Act had a wider scope in that there was an inclusion of private institutions of education at all levels.

10.6 In relation to that PED, formerly known as the Registrar of Schools and Teachers Division, was set up for the purpose of establishing, registering and monitoring all levels of private educational institutions. The main concern of this department is to ensure the extent to which the private sector is contributing towards providing educational opportunities. Its role is primarily that of complementing and supplementing government efforts in the educational development in Malaysia.

10.7 EFA in Malaysia owes its success to the government’s emphasis on education and its allocation of more than 20 per cent of the national budget for education, the single largest public expenditure allocation. This is complemented by a strong commitment and awareness among parents generally of the importance of education.

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