2 minute read


Secondary Education

The lower secondary stage consists of three years (seventh to ninth grades or Forms I to III) at the end of which students take the Lower Secondary Assessment Examination (Sijil Rendah Pelajaran or PMR). Many of those who fail the PMR end their education and join the labor market. Students who pass the PMR move to more specialized fields of study at the upper secondary school based on choice and aptitude for the arts or sciences "streams." They may join technical or vocational school for two years. Both the categories of students are evaluated at year 5 through the Malaysian Certificate of Education examination (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or SPM). At the upper secondary level, several schools are set up to provide a technically-biased academic education and preemployment skills. Some secondary schools offer the Malaysian Higher School Certificate (Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran or STPM) program which qualifies students for entry into the national universities, colleges, or teacher-training institutions.

In 2000, some of the students in lower secondary schools joined the upper secondary programs offered by the MARA Institute of Technology and colleges. They offer courses in technology, commerce, business management. MARA's polytechnics offer training courses in commerce and engineering to train technicians and junior executives. In 2000, there were 1,538 lower and upper secondary schools with 1,794,515 students and 96,523 teachers, with a teacher-student ratio of 1:18.6.

Technical education has had a longer tradition than higher education in humanities or social sciences. In 1925, a technical school was opened at Brickfrields, Kuala Lumpur, which a half-century later, in 1972, became the University of Technology, Malaysia. After the country's independence in 1957 and formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, the successive five-year plans focused on creating a "market-sensitive" education system, which would train enough people to meet the needs of industry and business. Efforts were also made to locate the technical school close to the location of industries so that the students could take advantage of practical training through observation or apprenticeship. Other objectives of vocational education included encouraging those who are not oriented to white collar jobs to take training in short-term and diploma courses and acquire technical skills to enter a vocation.

The technological education would include computer technology to keep the country in the league of developed countries. Another aim was to close the digital gap between the urban and rural populations in Malaysia. The prime Minister, Dr Mahathir's "Vision 2020" included technical and vocational education among the priorities for the nation. Consequently, the percentage of those who opted for these categories of education jumped from the 7 percent of those passing the PMR, in 2000.

Two kinds of students tend to take up technical and vocational education. Those who fail the Sijil Rendah Pelajaran or PMR given at the end of Form III or the ninth grade and those who pass the PMR, and move on to upper secondary school and choose technical or vocational school as one of the "streams" (some others being arts and sciences) for two years. There has been an increasing trend to include some technical and vocational education as a part of the regular curriculum in the regular secondary schools. An increasing number of students join the MARA Institute of Technology taking diplomas in engineering or business.

Additional topics

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