The National Education System & the Classification of Educational Institutions

The policies that have gone to make up the education system and its contents are found in several government reports on education and the national economy that are listed below;

  1. 1951 The Barnes Report
  2. 1951 The Fenn-Wu Report
  3. 1956 The Razak Report
  4. 1960 The Rahman Talib Report
  5. 1967 The Higher Education Committee Report
  6. 1973 Committee Report on a Study of Views on Education and Society (Dropout Report)
  7. 1979 Cabinet Committee Report on Review of Implementation of Education Policies (Mahathir Report) 1979
  8. 1991 Cabinet Committee Report on Training
  9. 2001 The Education Development Plan 2001 – 2010
  10. 2006 The Education Development Master Plan 2006 - 2010
  11. 2007 National Higher Education Strategic Plan (NHESP)
  12. 2009 Strengthening Private Education in Malaysia by the Economic Planning Unit

The New Economic Model and Education

In March 2010, the government published a document entitled the ‘New Economic Model (NEM)’ which put forward a radical plan for the transformation of the Malaysian economy. Education was highlighted both as a cause for the parlous state of the economy, the lack of talent as well as the primary lever for its proposed transformation. On 25 October 2010, the Prime Minister launched the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), A Road Map for Malaysia. The transformation plan presented a comprehensive proposal to transform Malaysia into a high income nation by 2020, lifting Malaysia’s GNI per capita from USD6, 700 to USD15, 000. This estimates a GNI growth of 6% per annum to achieve the targets set in the ETP by 2020. Education was slated to play an important role in the ETP and was marked as one of 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEA). However, the focus of the Education NKEA was on strengthening the private education services sector by increasing private consumption and investments as well as expanding education exports.

Education Blueprints

In 2011, the government initiated a major review of the education system to develop a new National Education Blueprint to chart a path for the educational system in the context of what the Blueprint claims are rising international education standards and increased public and parental expectations of educational policy.

In 2013, the Ministry of Education embarked on a review of higher education through the development of a Higher Education Blueprint that was published in 2015. The Blueprint proposes 10 shifts of development to create a higher education system that will rank among the world’s leading education systems and enable Malaysia to compete in the global economy.

Higher Education Reform 2019

One of the promises in the manifesto of the Pakatan Harapan Government that was elected into power through a massive popular vote in May 2018, was the reform of higher education. A committee was established in early 2019, made up of academics from both the public and private sectors, headed by Dr Wan Chang Da, of the National Higher Education Research Institute, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Professor Dato’ Dr Norzaini Azman, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Professor Nik Ahmad Kamal of Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia. Other members of the committee are Professor Aiman @ Nariman Mohd. Sulaiman also of University Islam Antarabangsa, Professor Russayani Ismail and Assoc. Professor Soon Jan Jan, both of Universiti Utara Malaysia, Assoc. Professor Rozilini M. Fernandez-Chung of the University of Nottingham Malaysia, Dr Lee Hwok  Aun of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Dr Ahmad Nazri Sulaiman, Universiti Sains, Dr Mohamed Ali Hj. Abdul Rahman, Monash University Malaysia, Encik Suharmi Ismail, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Mr U K Menon, Espact Sdn Bhd.

The committee was tasked with formulating proposals for the stabilization of governance structures in higher education and harmonizing the legislation on higher education.

The committee presented six papers in November 2019 to the Minister of Education. The papers are;

1.            Creation of a Buffer Organisation

2.            Establishment of an Education Ombudsman

3.            Institutional Funding and Financing

4.            Service Level Agreement

5.            Academic Profession

6.            Universities and Higher Education Institutions

The thrust of the committee’s recommendations in these papers is for the establishment of a higher education system in which institutional autonomy and academic freedom will constitute the mainstay of the system. When translated to law, the proposals in the six documents will make significant and far-reaching changes to the higher education system as now found.

Please watch these columns for more information on the proposed changes to the higher education system.