Education in Malaysia

The table above shows that approximately 15% of students do not continue their education after primary school. The rate of transition has not increased notably throughout the years, indicating a possible need for a change in education policy to instil the importance of education to Malaysians. Currently, The Education Act 1996 makes only primary schooling mandatory. The effectiveness of mandatory education can be seen from the fact that almost 94% of children between the ages of seven and 12 are enrolled in primary school. However, this number drops to approximately 86% for lower secondary and 77% for upper secondary schooling (Form 4 and Form 5)1, as shown in Figure 1.

It is also important to note that there are students that drop out during secondary schooling. As of such, (taking “Year 6 to Form 1” in 2010 as an example) we should not expect 85.94% of those in Year 6 to progress until the end of lower secondary (Form 3). This partially explains the disparity in the percentages shown.

How do we fare internationally?

There is a general upward trend in the percentage of students obtaining straight As in government examinations from 2005 to 2011. The grading system for SPM was changed from 2009 onwards to include three types of Distinctions: A-, A and A+, which could statistically increase the number of students obtaining all As in their examinations. However, to determine the performance of Malaysian students relative to international standards, let’s consider the TIMSS3 scores.

TIMSS is a study performed by the National Center for Education Statistics that gauges the performance of students internationally in science and mathematics. The scores shown are obtained from those in Year 8 or its equivalent. The study focuses on numbers, algebra, geometry and data & chance for mathematics, while biology, chemistry, physics and earth science are its focus for science.

Figure 3 shows the difference (in percentages) between the scores obtained by a sample of Malaysian students and the international average score. A positive score indicates a better than average performance and, conversely, a negative percentage indicates a score below the international average. The graph clearly shows a negative trend, with Malaysia obtaining below average scores from 2003 onwards.

The usage of other international methods in measuring the education quality of Malaysia yields similar results as well. In 2011, the Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) found that the percentage of Malaysian students that attained or exceeded the baseline level for reading, mathematics and science were 56%, 41% and 57% respectively4.

The figure above shows the scores obtained by Malaysian students in the TIMSS assessment in 2011, comparing it with participating countries in Asean, East Asia and the US. Out of the 42 countries that participated in 2011, Malaysia was ranked 26th for Mathematics and 32nd for Science.


1 Ministry of Education statistics.
2 See below for full list of references.
3 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.
4 Australian Center for Education Research,
5 Placed first amongst all participating countries in mathematics.
6 Placed first amongst all participating countries in science.

It is compulsory for every business to register with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), except for those excluded under the Business Registration Act 1956. There are two types of businesses: sole proprietorship and partnership. They are respectively defined as a business wholly owned by a single owner and a business owned by at least two persons but not more than 20 partners. In 2011, companies from the manufacturing, wholesale & retail trade and financial & insurance industry have seen the highest increase in registered companies in Penang, by 173, 210 and 140 respectively. In 2010, the number of dormant companies was 432, but dropped to only five in 2011. SSM reintroduced the initiative to waive penalties imposed on the directors of dormant companies to provide an opportunity for directors/shareholders in applying to strike off their inactive companies in faster processes.

Out of 185 economies in 2013, Malaysia ranked 12th in “ease of doing business”, two places higher than in 2012. The indicator covers two themes. The first relates to the strength of the country’s legal institutions (getting credit, protecting investors, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency) and the second relates to the complexity and cost of regulatory process (starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, paying taxes and trading across borders). Three out of 10 categories that have improved the most deal with construction permits, registering property and paying taxes, respectively ranked at 96th (116th in 2012), 33rd (62nd in 2012) and 15th (25th in 2012). These three topics portrayed Malaysia’s reforms on its regulations. Contrastingly, Malaysia’s ranking on starting a business dropped 12 places as its reduction of costs for starting a business was not sufficient as compared to other countries.

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