Whether homeschooling a child who is of primary school age (6-12 years) is legally permissible because of the statutory provision on compulsory education mentioned above, can only be determined by examining the ambit of the law and the discretion granted to the minister to exempt any pupil or class of pupils from that provision.
As noted earlier, every parent of a child attaining six years on the first day of January of a current school year is duty-bound to ensure that child is enrolled as a pupil in a primary school in that year and remains a pupil in a primary school for the duration of the compulsory education. This is the effect or s. 29A of the Education Act 1996. However, subsection 29A (2) of the same Act provides that the minister may, ‘if he considers it desirable and in the interest of the pupils or the public to do so, by order published in the Gazette, exempt any pupil or any class of pupils from the requirement to attend compulsory education, either absolutely or subject to such conditions as he may think fit to impose, and may at any time in his discretion revoke the exemption or revoke or alter or add to such conditions’.
The Ministry of Education Website at http://www.moe.gov.my/v/harian on 16 July 2015 displayed the following information, which is reproduced in full. Since compulsory education is limited to primary education, it would seem that homeschooling beyond the primary level will face no legal obstacle.
EXEMPTION FROM COMPULSORY EDUCATION (HOMESCHOOLING)
1. POLICY STATEMENT
Homeschooling is a method of schooling available to parents whose children have such problems as a chronic health condition which requires close attention by the guardian. However, this is a privilege and not a right. Normal schooling is preferred for children as it allows them to interact and communicate with other children.
2.1 To provide the opportunity for children with health problems which require close attention by their parents to obtain formal education at home
2.2 To ensure the children are not excluded from receiving compulsory education as stipulated in the Education Act 1996
2.3 To educate parents to discharge their responsibility of schooling their children
3. POLICY IMPLEMENTATION
3.1 Education (Amendment) Act 2002
Sub-section 29A (2) of the Education (Amendment) Act 2002 provides that the minister may, "if he considers it desirable and in the interest of the pupils or the public to do so, by order published in the Gazette, exempt any pupil or any class of pupils from the requirement to attend compulsory education, either absolutely or subject to such conditions as he may think fit to impose, and may at any time in his discretion revoke the exemption or revoke or alter or add to such conditions.
3.2 Professional Circular No. 14/2002: Implementation of Compulsory Education in Primary Level in 2003 dated 27 November 2002
3.3 Guidelines for Implementation of Compulsory Education in Primary Level in 2003
4. METHOD OF IMPLEMENTATION
4.1 Application for homeschooling can be submitted to any state education department in the country using the form provided. The application will be forwarded to the School Division of the Ministry of Education by the state education department to be processed and granted special approval. To date, only those with chronic health problems requiring close attention by the guardian have been granted approval. All conditions for application are set out in the form which is available without charge in all state education departments in the country.
4.2 Cases of application for exemption from compulsory education and to carry out home schooling are referred to the Director-General of Education for review and then forwarded to the Minister of Education for a decision.
4.3 In general, the conditions are as follows:
4.3.1 The applicant must be a Malaysian citizen.
4.3.2 The applicant must have a professional teaching qualification.
4.3.3 One of the parents must be prepared to tutor the child at home on a full-time basis.
4.3.4 The national curriculum must be followed.
4.3.5 Ability to provide education infrastructure which is conducive and proper for the purpose of teaching and learning
4.3.6 A visit to the home of the applicant will be made for the purpose of ascertaining the education infrastructure suitability by officials from the Ministry of Education, the state education department and the district education office.
4.3.7 The applicant shall allow officials from the Ministry of Education, the state education department or district education office to visit the home at any time during a school day for the purpose of monitoring the teaching and learning process without prejudice.
4.3.8 A child undergoing homeschooling is not allowed to attend any school whether private or government for daily tuition.
4.3.9 If the applicant is found to violate the conditions contained in the approval granted by the Ministry of Education, the ministry shall have the right to revoke the approval forthwith and the child shall be instantly registered at a normal school.
5 EFFECTIVE DATE
5.1 The "Criteria for Exemption from Compulsory Education at Primary Level" paper was approved by the Minister of Education on 28 June 2003 and the task of processing applications for exemption has been implemented effective from that date.
The exemption policy and regulations take a very restricted view taken of homeschooling. The exemption given is to ‘provide the opportunity for children with health problems which require close attention by their parents to obtain formal education at home’. This may not serve the needs of parents who desire to home educate children with no health problems.
There is no discussion on homeschooling in the Malaysia Education Blueprint.
The legal restrictions on homeschooling arising from the compulsory primary education provisions of s. 29 of the EA 1996 do not apply to the homeschooling of students who have cleared primary education.