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Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Ministry of Education formulates the national educational policy in terms of the goals and objectives set by the Prime Minister, Minister of Education, and the Cabinet. It periodically prepares plans, programs, and projects to fit into the national Five-Year-Plans. Although the country's constitution provides for decentralization of certain powers to the states, the federal Ministry of Education has throughout Malaysia's history played a superior role in laying down policies and guidelines for the state-level education departments, and at times, the district level officials in charge of education.

The Ministry of Education functions as two wings: academic and administrative, headed by the Director-General of Education and the Secretary-General. At the apex of policy planning in the Ministry is the Educational Planning Committee (EPC) of which the Minister of Education is the head. Its sub-committees formulate policies regarding curriculum and preparation of text-books, development, finance, higher education, scholarships, and teacher training for approval by the EPC.

Roughly corresponding to these committees are 12 academic divisions. The Educational and Planning and Research Division is a very important division connected to the EPC. Another is the Curriculum Development Center responsible for disseminating effective teaching methods and strategies as well as new curricula programs and for producing support materials. The Textbook Division, which gets the textbooks written in conformity with the revisions in curriculum and printed in time for the beginning of the classes. Support in the form of audio-visual facilities and other kinds of technology is provided by the Educational Technology Division while a still separate Technical and Vocational Division assists the vocational secondary schools and polytechnics in revising curriculum and supply of the state-of-the art technical facilities. A special division, the Computer Services Division provides not only the physical facilities and their upgrading but also consult services. Another division named the Examination Syndicate is responsible for conducting all national-level examinations. Inspection and supervision of effective instruction and management of school of all levels comes under the Federal Schools Inspectorate. Still another division deals with all questions pertaining to the teaching of Islam.

The Ministry of Education requires all educational institutions, whether they are in the public or private sectors, to observe the rules and regulations regarding the registration of schools. The Schools and Teachers Registration Division ensures the academic qualifications of teachers and that the physical facilities in schools follow certain standards. Teachers and academic administrators needing upgrading receive training at the Aminuddin Baki Institute, which functions directly under the Ministry of Education.

The Ministry's Higher Education Division coordinates policies for university education although the universities are considered autonomous. Most work that pertains to connecting with the universities is done by 10-member National Accreditation Board for public and private institutions of higher education. The Board formulates policies on the quality of courses and the accreditation of certificates, diplomas, and degrees. The Board's goal is to ensure high academic standards in keeping with the best universities in the world. In order to provide equity and a balanced representation of various disciplines and programs, the membership of the Board is drawn from faculty of various public universities.

Also working with the Division of Higher Education is the External Affairs Division, which looks after the country's cooperative ties with other institutions of higher education in the region as well as across the world. The Scholarships Division deals with financial assistance to students and teachers within the country as well as for Malaysian students studying abroad Lastly, there is the Computer Services Division, which provides technical expertise in management of information services.

At the state level, the State Education Departments are headed by directors. These departments are responsible for the implementation of all educational programs, projects, and activities in the state. They also conduct monitoring of curricular programs in schools as well as give professional advice to teachers. In service courses, particularly those pertaining to the training and dissemination of new curricula, have become a major activity at state level. Regular feedback on the implementation of educational programs is relayed to the Ministry through regular meetings and discussions between these departments and the Ministry.

Malaysia has, since its inception, been liberal with funds for its educational establishment, spending on education in 1997, the largest portion of the budget at 22 percent. In that year, the allocation for education was augmented by 30 percent. This is exclusive of expenditure on the well-known MARA Junior Science colleges, which because of their rural bias are not funded by the Ministry of Education but come under the purview of the Ministry of Rural and National Development. The major items of expenditure include 11 years of free schooling at primary, lower secondary and secondary levels. There are plenty of scholarships available to the deserving, both on grounds of academic merit and economic need. The Textbook Division of the Ministry of Education makes textbooks available to the needy on a free loan basis. There are residential schools for secondary-level science students for those coming from the less developed northern Malay states or rural areas. Those who are economically disadvantaged are fully subsidized including boarding facilities.

A major item in the education budget is higher education, which includes ten public universities and a number of research institutions. Tuition is free and there are a large number of fellowships and grants available for the economically disadvantaged. The Ministry of Education's Scholarships Division and External Affairs Division jointly assist placement and funding of students going overseas for advanced studies. Until the mid-1980s, the preferred destination was Great Britain. The deep cuts in allocations to universities, which resulted in virtual abolition of financial assistance to foreign and Commonwealth students during the government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, sharply reduced the number of Malaysian students going to the United Kingdom. Instead, thousands of them, as many as 20,000 annually made their way to U.S. universities where the prospects of some funding at some time during a student's academic career held hope of financial relief. Malaysia's growing prosperity based on trade and industry ties with American counterparts also paved the way for an increasing number of Malaysian students from affluent families to prefer the United States over the United Kingdom for higher education. The unit costs in 2000 were estimated at US$350 at the primary level; US$560 at the secondary level for arts and science; US$1,500 for secondary vocational; US$950 for polytechnics; US$5,000 for teacher training; and US$7,000 for university education.

Since the mid-1990s, the Malaysian government instituted a Total Quality Management (TQM) program in all its ministries and departments, including in the Ministry of Education. A major study in the field of education in Malaysia by Professor Gopal K. Kanji of the Sheffield Hallam University (U.K.) and his associates, Abdul Malek Bin A. Tambi and William Wallace in 1999, evaluated TQM in the Ministry of Education and in higher education institutions (HEIs). A merit of the study was its detailed comparison of TQM in Malaysia and the United States.

The government's policy in education, particularly higher education, is to bring it in line with the country's manpower planning and to provide the country with the right and adequate supply of trained manpower to keep pace with economic growth and the country's publicly declared goal to make Malaysia "a regional center of excellence in education." Accordingly, in 1992, the Public Services Department, which is the highest public administrative agency, introduced guidelines in TQM for all the ministries, departments, and other agencies of the government and appointed appropriate certification bodies to conduct audits of their performance in accordance with TQM and ISO 9000. Institutions (HEIs) implement the guidelines and subject themselves to TQM audit. Under these regulations, the Public Services Department regulates Higher Education.

In keeping with these requirements, the Ministry of Education introduced the TQM by launching a "customer charter" on April 1, 1996. The Ministry formed a policy and quality section to monitor the education policy at all levels based on the TQM principles. Within 6 months of the launching of the customer charter, the National Higher Education Council was established in September, 1996 to monitor standards in the government HEIs and a "grading system" was laid down to assess the effectiveness of each academic department and its faculty. In the following year, in July, the government announced the formation of the National Accreditation Commission to assess the quality and standards in private universities on lines similar to those prescribed for public HEIs. The whole process of implementing the TQM and assessment of performance is aimed at improving the "productivity" of HEIs with the obvious intention of linking quality assessment and government funding of HEIs, particularly universities in the public sector.

The study of TQM in the field of education in Malaysia and its comparison with European and American experience in TQM was very effective. Gopal K. Kanji and his associates conducted an extensive survey, collecting data from Malaysia and the United States in December 1997 (Malaysia) and February 1998 (United States) to gauge the extent of TQM implementation in Malaysian HEIs, factors involved in the TQM evaluation, and what critical elements in the process affect TQM results. Their objectives included an assessment of the TQM in HEIs in terms of their "contribution to the organizations' performance and business excellence."

A preliminary report of the study, published in mid-1999 pointed out that while some HEIs in Malaysia introduced TQM as early as 1992, "quality control circles" had been implemented by some as early as 1978. On the other hand, several HEIs planned to get ISO 9000 certification and not implement TQM at all. The study evaluated TQM in the Malaysian Ministry of Education in general and in higher education institutions (HEIs) in particular. A merit of the study was its detailed comparison of TQM in 216 HEIs in Malaysia and 294 in the United States. The "critical success factors" considered were the following: leadership; continuous improvement; prevention; measurement of resources; process improvement; internal customer satisfaction; external customer satisfaction; people management and teamwork.

The study's findings include: (1) Most of the Malaysian HEIs, 88.5 percent of them, are small, having less than 5,000 full-time students, compared to 49.1 percent in the United States. (2) The proportion of HEIs adopting TQM in Malaysia is 50.0 percent versus 95.5 percent in the United States; the adoption in either country of TQM does not depend on the age of the institutions. (3) The correlation between leadership and TQM is very high in both the countries. The institutional leadership was responsible for introduction of TQM in 77.4 percent of the institutions in the United States and 75.9 percent in Malaysia. (4) Some of the barriers to TQM are lack of commitment, insufficient knowledge, and fear of failure. (5) There is less high level expertise in TQM in the United States (25.9 percent) than in Malaysia (17.9 percent). On the other hand, there is a greater acceptance of "quality culture" in Malaysian HEIs (60 percent) than in their U.S. counterparts (47.2 percent). (6) In order to promote a higher degree of "quality motivation," The Malaysian HEIs reward their employees much more than than in the United States. In Malaysia, such incentives are in the areas of job promotion and vacations; in the United States they are given in the form of psychological and sociological rewards such as recognition and organizational support. The study attributes the variation to "typical cultural difference between the two countries."

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