Essay Sample on Preschool Curriculum in Malaysia

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1757 Words
Date:  2022-11-21


Provision of Education in Malaysia is a function of the Federal Government controlled by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry takes the name Kementerian Pendidikan in the country's national language, Malay and it is currently under the leadership of Maszlee Malik. The provision of proper education is an obligation of the national Federal government of Malaysia as well as a Federal function of the state. Each state in the country has its own department of education charged with the issues that relate to education. The system of education is controlled by the Act of Education formulated in 1996, and is divided into levels beginning pre-school to tertiary school (Ministry of Education, Malaysia, 2019).

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The Malaysian Education Ministry was formerly governed by two distinct bodies which were the Ministry of Education and that of Higher Education. While the Ministry of Education oversaw the pre-tertiary education, that of higher Education governed tertiary education. The government combined the two bodies into one entity under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education in 2013 (Malaysia, 2015). Malaysians can acquire education through multilingual public schools or privately owned and operated schools. Homeschooling is also an option for parents who prefer privacy for their children. Multilingual schools in the country are free and government-owned and operated. All Malaysians are subjected to compulsory primary school education. As the education system is wide, this paper will only focus on pre-school education in Malaysia and the development of its curriculum.

Preschool Education in Malaysia

Pre-school education (also known as early childhood education) in Malaysia usually starts when a child is three or four years old and goes all the way to when the child is six years old, where they complete pre-school and join the primary school. Pre-school typically takes about two years to complete. However, it is important to note that unlike primary school, pre-school is not compulsory in Malaysia. Pre-school is divided into playgroup, which is for children between the ages of three and four; and kindergarten, which is for children between the ages of four and six.

Initially, there was no formal curriculum for the pre-school education in Malaysia; however, there are recent initiatives to develop a curriculum for it - an aspect that will be discussed in length in this paper. Existing policies for pre-school education includes formal mandatory training for principals and teachers operating kindergartens and this should be accompanied by certificates. This training covers child psychology and teaching methods, among other aspects.

Pre-school education in Malaysia is coordinated by three ministries. The Ministries include that of Edification (MOE), Rural and National Growth, as well as the Department of National Unity and Integration (Mustafa & Azman, 2013). The three coordinate together in establish pre-schools with the Ministry of Rural Development has set up the most schools so far. As of 2008, the ministry had set up 8307 pre-schools known as KEMAS in the country. These schools are both in rural and urban areas and are established upon request from local authorities.

The Department of Integration and National Unity has also set up their own schools known as PERPADUAN and as of 2008; there were 1496 of such schools. The Ministry of Education has also set up pre-schools, through a project which they launched in 1992 and was rolled out nationwide in 2003. As of 2008, the MOE had 5905 preschools in the whole country (Ministry of Education, Malaysia, 2017). Other pre-schools have also been established by other private bodies such as the State Religious Department (JAIN) and the Islamic (ABIM). There are also pre-schools for special needs children. These numbers have obviously risen over the years, with MOE having a total of 6,092 preschools as of 2017 with the rest totalling 626,706 preschools in the entire country as of 2017 (Ministry of Education, Malaysia, 2017).

The Malaysian government takes early childhood education very seriously and has put great efforts in the sector and this is seen through the budgetary allocations given to the sector each year. The government ensures that those who seek early childhood education can easily get access to it as well as get it for free. As part of its Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy, the Malaysian government puts immense priority in seven factors that directly impact early education. These seven factors include philosophy, curriculum, infrastructure/ facilities, human resource, pedagogical, assessment and finances (Nor, 2016). All these factors are guided by the ministry's efforts in ensuring that the pre-school education structure is scaled up successfully with the aim of achieving a universal pre-school enrolment for all children.

The Development of Preschool Curriculum

Over the decades, there have been countless changes in the curriculum for pre-schools in Malaysia. The development of the curriculum has been an ongoing process which has been heavily influenced by the current trends and issues both locally and globally (Empezardc, 2012). Its development is also closely related to the socio-economic factors and needs of the country, which can be attributed to modernisation. The curriculum has been recognised as a contributing factor to which pre-schools parents in Malaysia will take their children to. It is the fourth contributing factor after the brand of the school, the language medium and the recommendations from others (Mustafa & Azman, 2013).

Before colonisation, the earliest form of education in Malaysia was in huts, which were Islamic schools or madrasah. Following colonisation and eventually independence in 1957, there was a variety of schools that had been founded by the British colonial government. These included schools taught and specialising in English, which served the colonialists; and vernacular schools which taught in Malay, Chinese, Tamil and also has subjects on religious education (Samuel, Tee, & Symaco, 2017). Coming out of the colonisation era brought with it a lot of challenges in the education sector in Malaysia because of the variance in the language of communication in the two types of schools as well as a lack of a good curriculum to cater for the education sector. Because of this, there was a need to evaluate the education sector in order to streamline it nationwide and reduce the discrepancies. This then resulted in the filing and adoption of several reports over the years, which included The 1946 Cheeseman Report and the 1950 Barnes Report. Other reports were those of the Fenn-Wu Report (1951) as well as the Razak Report (1956). Later, the Rahman Talib Report (1960) and the 1979 Cabinet Report was adopted. Eventually, all the reports were merged into one final report which was then passed as law and has been in use since then - The Education Act of 1961 & 1996 (Samuel, Tee, & Symaco, 2017).

The Razak Report of 1956 was perhaps the landmark of the education curriculum in Malaysia, which suggested that there should be the execution of a shared prospectus in all schools as well as the adoption of English in all Secondary and Primary schools (Empezardc, 2012). Early childhood centres have slowly been on the increase due to a demand brought about by the development of township areas, which then led to the child care institutions being sources of business and revenue. Many private ECD centres were first introduced to cater to parents who went to work. Institutionalised centres by the Ministry of Education were only introduced in the early 1950s, however, at that time it was not free and was only limited for the privileged individuals in the country. These CDs would prepare children to join primary school by teaching them the basic 3R skills; that is reading, writing and arithmetic (Samuel, Tee, & Symaco, 2017).

Because of the variance between public and private ECD centres as well as the economic factors that limited some children from accessing the schools, there was a further imbalance that prompted the government to set up policies and authorities to streamline and bring balance to the sector. Some of these policies include the 1984 Act of Child Care Centre, (Amended in 2007), which put in place a set of minimum criteria for the running for pre-schools. Another policy is the 1996 Act of National Education (Act 550) which recognises pre-school education as part of the schooling system in Malaysia. After the establishment of this Act, a Standard National Pre-School Curriculum (SNPC) and quality standards were formed in 2010.

The National Pre-School Curriculum is centred in creating a balanced human being and this is done through six strategies (Nor, 2016). These strategies include:

  • Communication; where the child is taught language skills on Malay, English, Chinese and Tamil
  • Spirituality, attitudes and values; where the child is taught religious matters
  • Humanity; which teaches subjects on the civil society, local environment and developing patriotism.
  • Grooming; where children are fostered to be leaders
  • Physical development and aesthetics; where there is an emphasis on health and well-being
  • Science and technology; where children are given skills on ICT, math skills and problem-solving.

Issues in Preschool Education in Malaysia

Despite the developments and great achievements that have so far been made in the pre-school education sector in Malaysia, there are still a few issues that are hampering it from reaching its full potential. There is no doubt of the benefits as well as the achievements that pre-school education has had in society. Some of these benefits include the overall academic achievement in students from pre-school and beyond, less grade repetition by students, increased high school graduation, and primary school readiness.

There are several major issues in pre-school education, especially for public or government sponsored pre-schools. The first challenge is financial constraints more so for the public pre-schools which results to them having inadequate infrastructure to their avail. This is further exacerbated by the fierce competition from the privately sponsored pre-schools, which have adequate resources for children to develop themselves. Private pre-schools are equipped with modern teaching equipment, favourable learning environment and vibrant extra curriculum activities such as ballet. Due to subjects such as ICT, pre-schools need to be equipped with computers that the children can use. The school should also have teachers who are competent in computer skills in order to properly teach the students.

Another challenge includes teacher incentives such as salary increment, which might be lacking due to financial constraint, as highlighted above. Teachers in public pre-schools are also often less qualified as compared to private teachers, who may have acquired further education outside the country. This challenge can be clearly seen with teachers who have difficulty in teaching and communicating in English with their students. Often than not there are discrepancies pronunciation of words, vocabulary, sentence formation, grammar, lack of interest from both the teacher and the student, as well as a negative attitude towards English as a language (Mustafa, Ngajib, Isa, & Omar, 2018). Because of this factor, public pre-schools are lagging behind private schools in terms of the quality of education offered.


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