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Preprimary & Primary Education

In Malaysia, the preschool education, outside the home, begins at the age of four or five in kindergartens, which are run both by the government as well as nongovernmental agencies and the private sector. The Ministry of Education interferes the least at this level of education. It does provide broad guidelines in terms of a "curriculum," teaching approaches and how to provide a "secure and stimulating environment" for preschool children, but it also allows considerable flexibility to the managements and teachers of such schools to make variation in the style and content of teaching. Such variation is specially allowed at the preschool and tertiary education (university education) levels. In 2000, there were 1,076 public kindergartens with 27,883 kindergarten students and 1,699 teachers. Additionally, there were 2,161 private kindergartens.

Education is provided free by the government. It is not compulsory. Yet, 99 percent of all six-year-olds attend the primary school and 92 percent of all students go on to the upper secondary schools. Sensitive to the multi-ethnic character of its population, Malaysia has set up two categories of schools: national schools and national-type schools. Schools of all levels operate on a semester system for a total of 41 weeks in a year. Because of a shortage of school space, some schools in urban centers operate in two shifts: morning and afternoon.

While most of the primary and secondary schools are run by the government, there is a growing number of private schools. They are becoming increasingly popular because they give students a greater degree of mobility. At any stage, they can opt out of the private schools and join the national schools and vice versa. Such private schools use either a Malaysian syllabus or one from an overseas school. Some private schools also offer a 2-year Sixth Form program which prepares the students for entry into local or foreign universities.

The Malaysian system of education comprises four levels: primary, lower secondary, upper secondary, and postsecondary schools. Parents are free to choose the type of school, national (Bahasa Melayu) or "nationalist-type" Chinese or Tamil. Students completing six years of primary education are automatically promoted to lower secondary level. Those from the "national-type" schools are required to spend a year in transition class in order to acquire sufficient knowledge of Bahasa Melayu to be able to follow the instruction at the lower secondary school level (or Form I as it is called), where the medium of instruction is only in the national language, Bahasa Melayu. At the primary level, the emphasis is on the acquisition of strong writing and reading skills as well as a good foundation of maths and basic sciences. Two assessment examinations at the end of the third and the sixth years enable an evaluation of the student's performance. Those who perform extremely well at the third year examination are often allowed to skip the fourth year and go directly to the fifth year. The government also runs some residential schools providing a stimulating environment for some specially gifted students interested in specializing in sciences. In such schools, there are special facilities for students to cultivate fluency of English so that they are better able to assimilate advanced knowledge in science and technology. In 2000, there were 7,084 primary schools with 2,870,667 students and 150,681 teachers giving a teacher-student ratio of 1:19.

The Ministry of Education's policy is to try to accommodate the particular needs of the visually and hearing impaired as well as of those with learning difficulties, within the mainstream school system. Special facilities may be given to some students for some time, but the goal is to integrate them in regular classes as early as possible. In 2000, there were 283 schools that were equipped with special facilities and qualified teaching staff to help integrate such children within the general school system. However, there were 31 "special education schools" for those who need more intensive and personal one-on-one care and attention and who cannot be integrated into the mainstream schools.

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Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceMalaysia - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education