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Failure in School Curriculum Reforms, Underpinning Factors and Solutions


Asha Singh/Lim


CSO Education Cluster

Policy Code:

3f Education

Problem Statement:

Despite many education reforms taking place in Malaysia, there is lack of success. This includes the emphasis on 3R under KBSR curricular system, 4R (3R + Reasoning) under KSSR and the implementation of LINUS (Literacy and Numeracy) program to assist primary junior year school students in the mastery of numeracy and literacy in Malay and English.
The primary school curriculum under KSSR is known to be very knowledge-focused especially in the study of Mathematics and Science but is beyond the cognitive development level of students. The History text is found to be disjointed and biased. It moves away from the development of the history methodology and the text is torn apart in the narration of facts and story line.
The KSSM brought about an increase in the number of subjects ( to 82), enlarging and enriching the curriculum. However, the shortage and the lack of competent teachers to teach Subjects in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and STREAM (Science Tech, Reading, Art and Math) impacted negatively on the delivery of education. This shortage led to an ill-planned announcement by the Education Minister of the recruitment exercise for 18,700 teachers to fill these teaching post vacancies in schools (The Star, 21 June 2021). It reflects the lack of commitment, coordination and accountability of leadership of MOE.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

Integrity and Professionalism is the KEY to sustainability and success in Education Reforms
Teachers and Schools should be given the time and flexibility to engage with the curriculum implementation as a process to develop in students the love for learning and competencies to engage with learning.

Proposal of Solution:

The ‘one rule fix all’ coercive approach requiring teachers to focus on the submission of results and grades accounts for the root cause of the failure in education reforms. The misalignment and constant change by the Ministry of Education(MoE) leadership, since 1980s till now , has yet to ensure the fundamental emphasis on basic literacy and numeracy for the 11 years of elementary education. The relevance of education to life competencies, the love for learning is yet to be developed in students. These include the competency to communicate, express views, the ability to engage with inquiry and problem-solving skills. Others include the application of math and science concepts to life. This is the focus of the assessment in PISA and TIMSS, international assessment standards
In order for curriculum reform to be a success, there should be ongoing capacity building and teacher competency assessments should be re-implemented. Adding to it, the training conducted from both pre-service and in service teachers must be delivered hands-on with full commitment by experts using workshop approach.
The new curricular reform known as KSSR and KSSM requires the MOE to discharge accountability so as to ensure there are adequate and competent teachers to teach the STEM, Humanities and Social Science subjects.
The engagement of in-service teachers with continual professional learning development (PLD) through the establishment of PLC (Professional Learning Community) at subject and professional level at school must be executed monthly (as reiterated in Malaysia Educatiob Blueprint.). This is the basis for the on-going reformation to be rooted as a practice in schools.
It is recommended that teacher’s training at pre-service level must engage with a broad base education, with in-depth studies in their specializations. This is to enable teachers to be both creative and competent with the interplay of knowledge, to develop students’ curiosity and the love for learning, including the development of students’ higher order thinking capacity. It is thus clear that teachers’ training held at a single-discipline Teachers Education Institute or Education Teaching University like UPSI is less desirable.

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