Decentralisation of Education to Ensuring Better Transformation of
Malaysian Education.


Dr Tan Ai Mei


CSO Education Cluster

Policy Code:

3f Education

Problem Statement:

The transformation of national schools to a monocultural (a single race and religion)
learning institution has created a deficit of trust, especially among minority group parents .
This has resulted in largely homogeneous B40 to B50 students studying under the
Kebangsaan Schools, while the minority ethnic middle- and upper-class parents place their
children in the better-run national and vernacular schools. Malays and the Orang Asal
parents, who also have lost trust in the Kebangsaan Schools (SK/SMK), send their children
to these schools as well.
Parents’ aspiration for diversity and quality education, in choosing these schools,
is well reflected in the 19.5% enrolment of non-Chinese ( i.e. 15.3% Malays, 2.75% Indians,
and 1.67% represented by othersincluding the Orang Asal – Source: MOE, 2020) including Orang
Asal) in SJKC schools. Similarly, the increased demand of parents from middle and upper class and professional background, regardless of ethnicity, to
enroll their children in private, international, Chinese independent schools and
home schooling clearly signals the deficit of trust for the public schooling system.
Such concerns expose the widening gap impacting the quality of learning
experienced by students from the different SK, SJK schools. Also the different
socio-economic classes, the ethnic background and the limited learning access of
the B40 hinders the embracing of diversity. The main loss is most felt by the
students from the B40 group.
The students from the private school clusters are isolated and cannot emphatise
with the B40 community. This segregates the have-nots from the haves students
and the B40 students who are deprived of exposure to and access to an enriched
learning experience.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

‘Education for all’ and ‘Education is a co-responsibility of all’. Parents’ choice in education
to be respected.

Proposal of Solution:

The following model in UK can provide a reference for Decentralization of education to
take place in Malaysia.
The UK ‘Academy School’ Model* is recommended to be run on pioneer project basis as a
progressive initiative to realise the Decentralisation in education in Malaysia. In particular
to getting rid of schools and teachers who are underperforming as well as fulfilling
students, parents and community aspirations in education.
Under such a scheme, schools will be given full autonomy to run school in the best
interest to benefit students, community and school. These schools were given 80%
funding by the Government and 20% based on school TRUST fund. Teachers enjoy better
pension scheme and job security. Professional accreditation body to visit schools to
ascertain if they are on track with the self -determined set performance goals
As for under-performing schools, they will be aided by an agreed school recovery plan.
Continual failure of the school community to perform will be resolved. Both teachers and
principals will be disengaged.
School Managements are given a free hand to deliver education, using their own approach
in line with the focus taken by the school community. For example, the school may want to
reinforce student learning in BM, first using the immersion approach for Year 1 students,
followed by set approaches in the teaching of English to students in the Year 2. The only
requirement is that, at the end of this completed schooling, students are competent to sit
for the public exam.
To produce students whose capabilities are sustainable and relevant, schools should be
given autonomy to run a niche school-based curriculum benefitting majority of the
students. This is to be funded by the Government. For example, SMK St Mary, as a Girl’s
School, has been conducting culinary classes to benefit students in life skills, as well as a
potential career in future for students from B40.
Similarly, SMK Confucious school has commenced the ‘Bijak Bahasa’ program to its Year 1
students to address the issue of Malay language literacy gap faced by majority of students
in the school.
Hin Hua High School students, from Klang, are given direct entry to the prestigious
Tsinghua and Beijing Universities. The empowerment of having a self-determined broadbased
curriculum which include the teaching of Social Science with a broad-based
concept to widen students’ global perspective. The school is well-known and given
recognition for producing aspiring students.


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