Wake up, Malaysian Education!

Student“Just follow the answer on books, keep practicing and don’t ask why!”

Once a while, I asked my teacher a question during history class and this was the answer. In general, the examination-oriented education in Malaysia emphasizes on how much information we can remember after revising and practicing for hundred, or even a thousand times.

During my schooling, I remember we had to memorize vocabulary, essays, formula, definitions, theories, etc. I had no idea why we had to remember them since they could be searched online just with a click. (I’m not a computer though)… Most of the time, I could see my teachers were rushing to finish all the syllabus appointed by the ministry.

Well, at the end we might not necessarily understand how mathematical formulas were formulated but we still could get the right answers. That’s the result of practice repeatedly, which I found if the teacher tells me the story behind the theories and how it was formulated, I will be more understandable and no need to practice so many times and get it right.

Primary School (Year 1 – 6): 7 subjects ~ Malay comprehension, Malay writing, English, Chinese comprehension, Chinese writing, Maths, Science.
Lower Secondary (Form 1 – 3): 8 subjects ~ Malay, English, Chinese, Maths, Science, Geography, History, Living skills. *Abolished in 2014.
Higher Secondary (Form 4 – 5): 12 subjects ~ Malay, English, Chinese, Moral studies, History, Maths, Add. Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Visual Arts (Optional)* Funny fact: Since there is no limitation on subject choices, a student got 21 A’s in 2007 and broke the record in the Malaysian education history. So, to prevent students focus too much on studies and abandon extra-curriculum, the authority imposed a 10+2 subjects policy since 2010.
Pre-University (Form 6): 4 subjects ~ General Studies, Malay, Geography, Business studies (subjects are different for science stream) and Malaysian University English Test (MUET) 

In order to get into the public university, we have to pass all these examinations set by the ministry. Apparently, our education is not a strength based assessment system, means if you are musically gifted, you have no exceptional to get an admission into the university without passing these exams. Most of us spent more than a decade in school to learn theories from books and had little time to discover our potential. At the end, we have no idea what to do after graduation.

Every time when the national examination results were released, students have to face pressure from their parents, school teachers, peers, society when choosing courses, which they need a really strong determination if they want to choose courses that are defined as “less marketable courses” here. During special occasions, you might often hear people asking: “What are you going to do with this degree?”

The sad thing is, even you achieved good grades, you think you have more choices. In fact, the entire society convinces you to better take courses like medicine, engineering, law, accounting, etc., to ensure your future employment and reputation. Otherwise in their perspective: it is a waste of effort and your parents’money.

In reality, many students found that they don’t like the course they chose after a year of studies in the university. So, the gap year concept is good for exploring our real passions. But I know this gap year concept is hardly to be imposed here, as the society forces you to get a degree as fast as you could and find a well-paying job after finished your studies.

So, this is basically how the education system works in my country.

What do you think? Is this happening at your place too? Feel free to share your opinion about the education system in your country.

The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.
~ Herbert Spencer (English philosopher)
~ Photo credit (modified): Ross Hong Kong / Flickr / CC BY-NC

13 thoughts on “Wake up, Malaysian Education!

  1. Completely understand your predicament. Sad state of affairs. It takes a lot to bring about such paradigm shift in peoples thinking and in the education system. Option is to study in another country, but that may not be possible for all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re right, I’ve heard my foreign friends saying that this situation has happened in their country as well. We need a positive move toward a better future, which would be a great challenge to the conservative society. Thank you so much for commenting.


  2. Here in the southeastern United States, education is largely based on the lowest common average, meaning it is “dumbed down.” The two most important subject areas are the sciences and mathematics; however, it is all about getting x-number of students to achieve y-score. In other words, teachers have to be more concerned with the overall average scores of their classes than they are concerned with how much students are actually learning. . . Now we have an ongoing crisis in the areas of practical knowledge and everyday-skills. Meanwhile, other states are offering greater variation in education, hands-on experimentation and learning, field-trips to important and interesting places, etc. Well, at any rate, your article resounded with me; I believe I know how you feel! It can be quite discouraging when teachers are only “teaching to the test,” as we say here in the southeastern U. S.! Great write-up! All the best to you w/blessings! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for the late reply, yes, I agreed with you, the failure of education system is always a hot topic to be discussed. Thanks for sharing your perspectives on the education system in the certain regions of USA, which I think in certain ways, we have the same global educational issues yet to be solved. Thanks for your words and all the best to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well it seems that the system is so in 90% of the world. It may have different forms but over all education is comprised of rote learning and no practical knowledge in almost every part of the world !

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I can relate so much with this post. In our country, the same system is followed, students have to remember everything by heart even without understanding. They go through the notes, gulp them down and regurgitate those in the answer papers. The real knowledge or practical application, in most of the cases, do not happen. And, as in every country, most of the students are of average merit, it becomes a farce in the name of education. Education here means securing high marks so that you can proceed further and get admitted in reputed college/universities.

    You know what, even parents don’t want their students to know anything more outside the curriculum. I’ve experiences as a teacher when I was told not to discuss much about subjects which are not in the syllabus…. 🙂

    Loved the article, it’s really well-written and an eye-opener.

    Following your blog. Have a great weekend ahead… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Loved your words and thanks for sharing your real experience with us. We need to rethink about what’re the purposes of education, is it simply for examination or for nurturing new generations with practical knowledge where they can apply these theories in daily lives. Thank you so much for following this blog, wish you a wonderful weekend too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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