Education System in Malaysia


 EducationSchool/LevelGrade FromGrade ToAge FromAge ToYearsNotes
PrimaryPrimary 16  6 
MiddleLower Secondary 69  3 
SecondaryUpper Secondary Education913  4 
VocationalVocational1113  1Admission based on Malaysian Certificate of Education (grade 11)
TertiaryUndergraduate1216  4 
TertiaryGraduate (Master's)1618  1 
TertiaryGraduate (Doctoral)1720  3 

Primary Education

Only primary school education is compulsory in Malaysia, where multilingual public schools, private schools and home educators co-exist side by side. Following unregulated preschool education a child enters primary school at age 7 for a period of 6 years. Following schooling in the community language of their choice they must sit for their primary school achievement test in order to qualify to study further.

Secondary Education

There is no identified middle school period although secondary education is divided into 2 phases. Following the first 3 years of general education students write for their lower certificate of education. Thereafter they enter either the arts or the science stream according to personal choice and teacher advice for 2 years. Once in that stream though, switching opportunities are limited. Following this latter period, they may complete 6th form, or study for a further 2 years for matriculation exemption.

Vocational Education

The department of skills development oversees the establishment and operation of all public and private training institutions. It has developed almost 1,000 standards for certificate, diploma and advanced diploma training, and is rolling more out in approximately 20 identified key areas.

Tertiary Education

Malaysia EducationControversy continues to surround heavily subsidized Malaysian tertiary education because of tight quotas that protect the racial majority. Some progress has been made in the direction of a greater meritocracy though, and in the interim disadvantaged students have the opportunity of enrolling at private or foreign branch universities.


The University of Malaya, which evolved from the Federated Malay States Government Medical School founded in 1905 is the oldest functioning tertiary institution in the country. Academic staff exceed 2,500 based at 3 campuses.


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