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A milestone for UNESCO: Malaysia Education Policy Review

After months of desk research, field visits and interviews with stakeholders, UNESCO has finalized the Malaysia Education Policy Review (M-EPR) at the request of the Malaysian Ministry of Education.

UNESCO meets with Ministry of Education officials as part of the Malaysia Education Policy Review, April 2012

The review identified the key strengths and challenges facing the Malaysian education system and provided recommendations to the Government for further consideration in its reform design. 

Overall, report findings indicate remarkable progress in improving access, equity and quality in its education services in Malaysia. 

Since gaining independence in 1957, the Federation of Malaysia has made significant commitment to achieving education for all and to improving its national education system. This is clearly reflected in a significant financial investment in education, comprehensive educational plans, and numerous policy reforms to meet evolving national aspirations and global demands. 

“Malaysia is not only on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education but will also be close to universal schooling in lower secondary education by 2015. This commendable achievement would not have been possible without the commitment of the Government and all stakeholders in education,” said UNESCO Bangkok Director, Mr Gwang-Jo Kim. 

But given Malaysia’s ambition to become a developed nation by 2020, the country is challenged to improve further still and in particular, boost the quality of the education it provides.

For this purpose, the M-EPR provides recommendations for system-wide improvement in five educational areas of national priority: teacher development, curriculum development, learning assessment, ICT in education and technical and vocational education and training, as well as overarching systemic issues.    

The UNESCO review involved a team of UNESCO staff (Paris and Bangkok) as well as international consultants including Phil Stabback (International Bureau of Education), Edmond Law (Hong Kong Institute of Education), Oon Ying Chin (Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations), Nancy Law (University of Hong Kong) and John Polesel (University of Melbourne) working with the Malaysian Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education.

“The Malaysian Education Policy Review has been a great learning opportunity, not just in reference to the findings and recommendations provided, but in the strengthened appreciation for the uniqueness of the Malaysian education system, for the distinctive strengths and challenges faced and the need for a suitably Malaysian ‘flavour’ to any reform measure,” said Mr Kim.

We hope that this review provides a solid foundation for the Malaysian Government’s on-going efforts to strengthen its education system. In particular, we hope that it provides the international perspective needed to assess critically the systemic strengths and shortcomings and provide objective recommendations to support Malaysia in its bid for “Vision 2020,” he said. 

An abridged version of the report will be made available to the public in 2013.

For more information please contact UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education – Ms Satoko Yano (s.yano(at), tel. 66 2 391 0577 ext. 367 or Ms. Rachel McCarthy (r.mccarthy(at) tel. 66 2 391 0577 ext. 374. 

Written by Rachel McCarthy, Education Policy and Reform Unit, UNESCO Bangkok