Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025: A Closer Look At Where Malaysia Stands

The Malaysian Education Blueprint launched in 2013 is the government’s promise to continuously improve the education system. At its core, the Blueprint aims to equip Malaysian students holistically and to ensure students are able to fulfil their full potential. The blueprint provided ways the education sector should improve. It outlines five system aspirations, six student aspirations and eleven shifts of transformation to support the education reform.  

The Minister of Education in Malaysia may have changed hands throughout the duration of the blueprint, yet, there is notable progress that should be addressed. As a sign of their commitment to the blueprint, the Education Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU) under the Ministry publishes a yearly report to monitor the progress. 

The Blueprint was set out in 3 Wave, we have departed Wave 1(2013-2015) and Wave 2 in 2020 and the final Wave is upon us. 

As we head to the finish line of the Malaysian Education Blueprint, let’s glimpse at how far we have come since its launch in 2013. 

5 System Aspirations 

The 5 system aspirations[1] are the key outcomes the government aspires the Malaysian education system as a whole should be, these include 

  1. Access
  2. Quality
  3. Equity
  4. Unity 
  5. Efficiency

#1: Access:

In the blueprint: Malaysia aims to achieve 100% enrolment across all levels from preschools to upper secondary (Form 5) by 2020[1].

  • Based on the 2020 PADU report[2], we have missed the mark. The enrollment to preschool was 83.5%, 98.2% of primary school enrollment, lower secondary enrollment was 95.3%, and the enrollment to upper secondary recorded 87.6%.
  • Many households are deterred from enrolling their children in schools due to the additional costs of schooling. Not just that, the logistics including the distance from their homes to schools, transportation fees of getting an education may be a challenge to many. When it comes to secondary school students, there is more than meets the eye, as youth may be inclined to gain an earning rather than continue their studies.
  • The pandemic has also shown that students dropped out of school due to various challenges (i.e. family financial issues, lost interest in schooling).

How does Malaysia fare compared to other ASEAN countries?

  • ASEAN data showed that Malaysia recorded a 96.7% primary enrollment rate. In this aspect, our neighbours, Myanmar (96.9%), Lao PDR (98.0%), Brunei (98.0%), Vietnam (98.0%) and Singapore (100%) recorded a higher net primary enrollment rate in 2017[3].

#2: Quality:

In the blueprint: Malaysia aims to be in the top three countries of international assessments such as PISA and TIMSS in 15 years[1].

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) includes three different testing components; reading, mathematics and science. The assessment measures the proficiencies of 15-year-olds on the aforementioned facets[4].

Mathematics and Science in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), as the name states, assess exclusively Mathematics and Science proficiencies amongst school students.

  • We have made a significant improvement in the 2018 PISA scores in comparison to the recorded scores in 2012 in all components. We climbed from the bottom quartile (Level 1) to the middle quartile (Level 2)[2]. The target is however to reach the upper quartile or Level 3 [1].
  • However, would our scores and position be affected following the possible learning loss students have gone through over the past two years? Only time will tell.

How does Malaysia fare compared to other ASEAN countries?

  • Thus far, Singapore is the only ASEAN country in the upper quartile (Level 3). Other ASEAN countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines are in the bottom quartile (Level 1) [4].
  • Comparing the TIMSS score in 2015 and 2019, there is an observed downward trend. For Mathematics in 2015 (465) and in 2019 (461). Science score in 2015 (471) as compared to 2019 (460)[2].
  • Singapore superseded other Asean countries and ranked first for Mathematics and Science scores for TIMSS 2019 [5].

Improving Literacy And Numeracy Rate

While reaching better heights when it comes to international assessment, it is also necessary to ensure that no students are left behind. One of the students’ aspirations of the blueprint indicates that all students are fully literate and numerate at the minimum. 

Two programmes are currently being conducted to improve the literacy and numeracy rate of school students.

  • In 2019, the Pencapaian Skor Purata Pentaksiran Kompetensi Dan Literasi Sekolah Rendah (PKLSR) for primary 5 and 6 and Pencapaian Skor Purata Pentaksiran Kompetensi Dan Literasi Sekolah Menengah (PKLSM) for Form 1-3 to measure Maths, Science, Financial literacy and reading was rolled out[2].
  • According to the measurement, the reading scores of primary 5 and 6 students are at a slightly higher level in 2020 (559) compared to the baseline finding in 2019 (558). In Mathematics, the same pattern is observed, in 2020 (538) compared to 455 in 2019[2].
  • In 2020, a new programme Primary Literacy and Numeracy (PLaN) is currently running in 800 schools to reach the minimum level of TP 3 (tahap penguasaan 3). The target group is primary 2 and 3 students[2]. The baseline finding is as per below:

How does Malaysia fare compared to other ASEAN countries?

  • UNICEF researched selected southeast Asian countries to measure whether Grade 5/ Primary 5 or 6 are well-prepared before entering secondary school. The Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA- PLM) Programme found that a majority of participating students in Malaysia and Vietnam have reached reading literacy that is expected of them at 58% and 82% respectively [6].
  • Similar to other ASEAN countries, the writing proficiency expected of primary five students in Malaysia only recorded at least 12%. Vietnam recorded at least 32%[6].
  • In terms of mathematical proficiency, Malaysia (64%) lags behind the leading country, Vietnam (92%)[6].

Quality Of Bilingual Proficiency 

On the recent compilation of the blueprint’s journey, the data on the percentage of students who received credit for SPM Bahasa Malaysia and English over the years were shared[7]

This addresses one of the Blueprint’s student aspirations, which is bilingual proficiency. The set target was 90% of students will score a minimum of a Credit in SPM Bahasa Malaysia, and 70% in SPM English (against Cambridge 1119 standards)[1].

  • The percentage of students who received a Credit in SPM Bahasa Malaysia, there is a 5.6% improvement. 71.3% of students with SPM Bahasa Malaysia Credit recorded in 2013 and 76.9% in 2020. Despite the improvement, the set target of 90% was not achieved[7].
  • The English curriculum and assessment have been aligned to the Common European Framework of References for Language (CEFR) standard. The percentage of students with Credit in SPM English was found to have decreased by 0.6%. In 2013, 80.7% was recorded and in 2020, the percentage was 80.1%[7]

Quality of Teachers

 At a glance, the Blueprint seeks to shift teaching as a career and promote it as an elite profession that only recruits from the top 30% of graduates in the country[1].

  • Data indicates that the intake of students to Institut Perguruan with 5As in SPM has increased from 90.2% in 2013 to 96.8% in 2020[7].
  • For the existing teachers, Leadership Course for Middle Leaders (LCML) to develop competencies and empower middle leaders was conducted from 2016 to 2020. Thus far, the program has involved 1647 middle leaders[7].
  • In improving the quality of our teachers, it is also important to ensure teachers are rewarded for their efforts through better compensation.

Quality Of School Leaders Or Principal 

Part of the Blueprint is also to ensure high performing school leaders in every school. Achieved through programmes that MOE have conducted in the past[1].

  • The National Professional Education Leaders Programme (NPQEL) ran from 2018 – to 2020 targeted school leaders or school principals[7].
  • Based on the provided data, 100% of the participants achieved Level 4 in 2018 compared to 79% in 100. Level 4 is assumed as the targeted level of the outcome of this programme[7].

#3: Equity:

In the blueprint: Malaysia aims to see a 50% reduction in achievement gaps (urban-rural, socio-economic and gender) by 2020 [1].

  • The data from PADU 2020 showed that there is a 37.7% improvement when it comes to urban-rural achievement gaps. There was a reduction from 0.61% in 2013 to 0.38% in 2020 [2].
  • Despite the improvement, it is also worth noting that students in underserved communities were struggling with online classes during the pandemic due to numerous factors.
  • The gender achievements gap was also minimised by 8.89%. In 2016 (12.6%) and 2020 (9.75), the socioeconomic status only showed a 0.22% improvement as the socioeconomic status in 2017 was 4.50 and in 2020, 4.49%[2].

Attendance Rate Of Students From Indigenous Communities and Enrollment Of  Special Needs Children 

Part of the transformational shifts in the Blueprint also includes Orang Asli students and other minority groups, and students with physical or learning disabilities to receive additional support so that they can enjoy the same educational opportunities[1]

  • The Orang Asli attendance rate showed improvement over the years from 79.1% in 2015 to 81.4% in 2020[7].
  • The higher attendance rate should be a cause for celebration, however, it is also beneficial to address the challenges involved in ensuring Orang Asli stay in schools.
  • However, in PADU 2020, the Pribumi attendance rate shows a decreasing trend from 82% in 2017 to 78.1% in 2020[2].
  • Special Needs Education enrollment rate showed a significant improvement from 9.6% in 2013 to 71.8% in 2020[7].

#4: Unity 

In the blueprint: The Malaysian Education system will be an education system that promotes shared values and experiences by encouraging students to embrace diversity[1].

  • The unity index is used to measure the unity between teachers and students. In 2014, the unity index was at 6.4, in 2018, it was 5.4[7].
  • Based on the 2018 PADU report, despite the improvement through the decreasing rate. A 5.4 on the unity index is still moderately high, indicating that there is still a gap when it comes to teachers and students’ unity[8]

#5: Efficiency

In the blueprint: An education system that maximises student outcome within the current national budget[1].

Improving infrastructure: dilapidated schools 

  • This measure is quantified through the improvement of dilapidated schools. From 2016 to 2020, 773 schools nationwide were identified. In the 2021 report, the scorecard is as per below[7]:
  • Late 2021, an incident involving upgrading works at a school in Johor was brought to light. Although schools are being identified and improved in terms of infrastructure, there should also be a closer look when it comes to safety measures during upgrading works.

Improving Internet connectivity

The objective is highlighted in the transformational shift to support the aspiration, which is providing internet access
and virtual learning environments via 1Bestari Net for all 10,000 schools by 2013[1].

  • This aim was successfully achieved as 10,203 schools have benefited from the program[2]
  • Following the contract termination of 1Bestari Net, the interim internet access indicated that 10,203 have continued access to various technology as per below[7]:

Despite the reach of this program, schools in rural areas are still in dire condition when it comes to Internet connectivity.

In light of the pandemic and school closure, MOE launched the Digital Education Learning Initiative Malaysia (DELIMa). It is a one-stop platform for all educational needs for both students and teachers. 

The initiative is timely to support online learning. However, under the same transformation shift, MOE targeted to gradually improve the device-to-student ratio from 1:30 (in 2011) to 1:10 by 2020[1].

  • Admittedly, the challenges of online learning lie with the limited access to digital devices. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen students falling behind due to this particular limitation. To date, the 150,000 promised digital devices have not reached their intended recipients. 

Restructuring The Ministry 

  • The  PPP (Pemantapan Profesionalisme Pegawai Perkhidmatan Pendidikan) leadership development program is an effort from the Ministry to expand the existing talent pool from Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri (JPN) and Pejabat Pendidikan Negeri (PPD). 
  • From 2017 to 2020, 393 officers from both JPN and PPD were identified and participated in coaching and mentoring sessions[7], this is part of Blueprint’s shift to transform ministry delivery and capability.  

There has been notable progress throughout the initial two waves of the Blueprint. However, achievements of set targets may have been slowed down by the pandemic. The million-dollar question is, would we be able to achieve the five system aspirations in 2025?

Explore our sources:

  1. Ministry Of Education (2013). Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025. Link 
  2. Ministry of Education (2020). Laporan Tahunan 2020. Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia 2013-2025. Link 
  3. ASEAN (2020). ASEAN Key Figures 2019. Link 
  4. OECD (2019). PISA 2018 Insights And Interpretations. Link
  5. Fatin Aliah Phang et al. (2020).TIMSS 2019 Science Grade 8: Where is Malaysia standing? ASEAN Journal of Engineering Education, 4(2). Link
  6. UNICEF. (2020). SEA-PLM 2019 Main Regional Report SummaryChildren’s learning in 6 Southeast Asian countries. Link 
  7. Ministry of Education. (2021). The journey. Highlights Of Wave 1 and Wave 2 Malaysian Education Blueprint. Link
  8. Ministry Of Education (2019).  Laporan Tahunan 2018. Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia 2013-2025. Link 

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