Expat Exchange
Free MembershipSign In

Educational System in Malaysia

The one tip that you hear expats living in Malaysia repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Malaysia. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Malaysia is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Malaysia.
Educational System in Malaysia

Malaysia offers a diverse and multicultural educational system that is both rigorous and comprehensive. The system is divided into several stages, each designed to cater to the different age groups and learning needs of students. The Malaysian government places a high emphasis on education, making it accessible and affordable for all residents, including expats. This guide will provide an overview of the educational system in Malaysia, focusing on the main stages of education, enrollment procedures for newcomers, language requirements, availability of bilingual schools, types of private schools, and options for homeschooling and online schooling.

What are the main stages of education in Malaysia?

The Malaysian education system is divided into four main stages: pre-school, primary school, secondary school, and tertiary education. Pre-school is for children aged 4 to 6, primary school caters to ages 7 to 12, secondary school is for students aged 13 to 17, and tertiary education is for those aged 18 and above. Each stage has a specific focus and curriculum designed to cater to the developmental needs of students at that age.

Pre-School Education in Malaysia

Pre-school education in Malaysia is optional and caters to children aged 4 to 6. It focuses on the development of social skills, creativity, and basic literacy and numeracy. Pre-schools can be public or private, with private pre-schools offering a variety of curricula including Montessori and Reggio Emilia.

Primary School Education in Malaysia

Primary education in Malaysia is compulsory and caters to children aged 7 to 12. It is divided into two stages: lower primary (Standard 1 to 3) and upper primary (Standard 4 to 6). The curriculum focuses on basic literacy, numeracy, science, and social studies. Malay is the medium of instruction, but English is taught as a second language.

Secondary School Education in Malaysia

Secondary education in Malaysia is for students aged 13 to 17 and is divided into lower secondary (Form 1 to 3) and upper secondary (Form 4 to 5). The curriculum includes more advanced subjects such as mathematics, science, humanities, and technical and vocational subjects. Students sit for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination at the end of Form 5.

Tertiary Education in Malaysia

Tertiary education in Malaysia is for students aged 18 and above. It includes pre-university programs, diploma courses, undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Institutions of higher learning include public and private universities, polytechnics, and community colleges.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

Newcomers can enroll their children in Malaysian schools by first obtaining a student pass for their child. They will need to provide necessary documents such as passport, visa, and proof of residence. Once the student pass is obtained, they can apply to the school of their choice. It’s advisable to apply early as places can be limited, especially in popular schools.

My children are still learning Malay, can they enroll in a public school?

Yes, children who are still learning Malay can enroll in public schools. However, they may face challenges as Malay is the medium of instruction in public schools. There are language support programs available to help non-native speakers.

Are there public bilingual schools?

Yes, there are public bilingual schools in Malaysia. These schools teach in both Malay and English. However, the availability of these schools may vary depending on the location.

What types of private schools are common in Malaysia?

Private schools in Malaysia include international schools, religious schools, and independent schools. International schools follow international curricula such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the British curriculum. Religious schools, such as Islamic schools, offer a curriculum that includes religious studies. Independent schools follow the Malaysian national curriculum but have more autonomy in their administration and teaching methods.

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Expats in Malaysia typically send their children to private schools, particularly international schools. This is due to the language of instruction (usually English), the international curriculum, and the diverse student body.

How expensive are Private schools in Malaysia?

Private schools in Malaysia can be quite expensive, with fees ranging from RM20,000 to RM100,000 per year depending on the school and the grade level. However, these schools often offer a high standard of education and a wide range of facilities and extracurricular activities.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Malaysia?

Yes, homeschooling is allowed in Malaysia. However, parents must apply for permission from the Ministry of Education and meet certain requirements, including having at least one parent at home full-time to supervise the child’s education.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Malaysia?

Yes, children can attend online school while living in Malaysia. There are several online schooling options available, both local and international. However, parents should ensure that the online school is accredited and that the curriculum meets their child’s educational needs.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Additional Information:

Now Health International

Now Health International
Live Healthier, Live Happier with award winning international health insurance.

Copyright 1997-2023 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal

LoginJoinPlease Login to Continue. New? Join today (it's free).
Since 1997, we've supported millions of people as they explore the world and share the adventures and challenges of living abroad.