A brief summary of the Education System in Malaysia

Written By: Cudy

28th January 2021

The education system in Malaysia is divided into three main stages:

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Tertiary

Primary education in Malaysia is free of charge for all Malaysian citizens, as well as those of Singapore and Brunei. Primary school in Malaysia is a National Schools type. Similarly, with the secondary schools. Both are co-educational.

However, there is a low attendance rate for primary schools in Sabah and Sarawak. The low attendance rate is due to the large number of private schools, which are popular with parents.

Primary education in Malaysia

Primary schools in Malaysia have different levels in every states. In addition, the primary education lasts six years. The students learn in one of the three major languages: English, Malay, or Chinese.

The National Curriculum in Malaysia has five main categories:

  • Language and Communication
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social studies
  • Information and Technology

Although the national curriculum is the same across all of the different states in Malaysia, there are some slight differences.

For example, the Sabah State Education Department has the Malay language as a compulsory subject, while the Sarawak State Education Department does not.

Secondary education in Malaysia

The types of secondary education in Malaysia, as follows:

  • National-type secondary schools
  • Private secondary schools
  • Special schools

National-type secondary schools is called SMK (Malay for ‘national secondary school’) and SMA (Malay for ‘national secondary school for the arts’).

National-type secondary schools in Malaysia offer the ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Level qualifications. Ordinary level (O Level) is equivalent to the GCSE qualification in England, while advanced level (A Level) is equivalent to the GCE ‘A’ level.

National-type secondary schools in Malaysia provide six years of education. Private secondary schools in Malaysia, on the other hand, offer the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) curriculum.

Tertiary education in Malaysia

Higher education in Malaysia is mainly provided by universities, polytechnics and colleges. There are more than 30 universities in Malaysia, and more than 20 polytechnics and colleges.

Applicants for higher education in Malaysia must pass the Malaysian Higher School Certificate (Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia, STPM) examination. The STPM is the equivalent to the GCE A Level qualification in the UK.

There are many universities in Malaysia. However, the country is famous for its private universities. Some of the major private universities in Malaysia including:

Universiti Teknologi MARA, Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka.

Students who want to study abroad in Malaysia can choose from a number of universities in Malaysia.

For example, the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) is a private business school in Malaysia that was founded in 1966. AIM has dedication to providing business management education to students from around the world.

Where can I study in Malaysia?

Malaysia has many universities throughout the country, making it an excellent choice for international students.

The country is particularly popular with students from Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines. Also, no matter where you choose to study in Malaysia, you will find that the country has a lot to offer.

You will be able to experience a blend of East and West, and enjoy the culture and traditions that make Malaysia such an interesting and unique place.

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