Why our education system is in trouble


The raging debate surrounding our education system seems to be over the medium of instruction for maths and science.

Sadly, however, not enough attention is being paid to the content and approach we have adopted, which straitjackets and stifles young minds.

Let me relate an anecdote told to me by the parents of a 11-year-old boy, J:

J was asked by his school teacher to write a short karangan (composition) about a Malaysian hero he admires and to give reasons for his choice.

The boy promptly penned a few lines about Anwar and Nizar and to support his choice, he said they had korban (sacrificed) a lot for the country, etc.

When J handed in the assignment to his teacher, he was told that it would not be accepted as he would get kosong (zero) for it. The teacher then showed J a sample (contoh) karangan and told him to write another composition. This time, J was given examples of heroes he could write about – sports stars such as Nicol David, Shalin Zulkifli and Lee Chong Wei were acceptable heroes.

This was a young lad in Perak who was shaping his thoughts based on the conversations he had overhead from the adults around him and what he had seen around him. But he was told his karangan would be rejected because his choice of wira (hero) was not appropriate.

And then we wonder why our students cannot think and analyse for themselves and make sense of the world around them.

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S. Zayas

Rehabilitation of a sick educational system is not only exclusive with the changing of the curriculum but also to the upgrading of the qualities of the teachers and instructors alike. It is not an easy task because it involves the political will of the government. The bottom line is the change must start in every citizen of the country.


My worry is the the official Malaysian Educational seem to be geared toward “franchising” with “Anak Permata” at Tadika Vs Kemas….slowly to Primary education….WOW that would be bIGG allocation who carry out the ‘EXCELLENT SYSTEM’. Maybe i am wrong but those involve is making huge money equivalent to MLM/ Direct selling business..

anna brella

Sorry, Malaysia no longer has a well-integrated mind-liberating and developing best of breed educational SYSTEM. What exists is some sort of a fractured, racist-oriented and segregated parrot-mode structure that caters far more for POLITICS and BUSINESS rather than for what one would say is free-thinking EDUCATION. The culprit for that failure to deliver good education as of right to all Malaysian children is the UMNO/BN Government that YOU people elected over and over again. Why do you think the politically-powerful and other rich people over there send their children in droves overseas right from primary/secondary/tertiary schooling age so that they… Read more »


How do they plan the syllabus?

Base on the ability of the weak group…. that’s true.

How far can we go?

As far as the weak group can reach….. that’s just being considerate….



teachers themselves are fed with half knowledge so how can parents expect them to give their children full knowledge. Our teachers and the education system is in a sorry state. I’m coaching mine at home. I can’t let them guide my precious children. By the way Malaysian teachers never appreciate smart children. Only parrots are rewarded.


What a joke. Now you know why the sitation is critical. Go and ask the senior lawyers in KL, some young lawyers and chambees cannot even speak basic English. How they pass law? I wonder. —————————- Tell me about it. Try going to UKM (for example), select a few law undergraduates and try interviewing them in English. ROTFL. However, it is to their detriment that they can’t speak proper English. They will normally end up in tiny little firms run by these same bunch of ppl or end up in the government sector thinking they are more superior than foreign… Read more »


In private or international schools, the teachers are afraid of the kids. Would you dare to discipline a child who comes with his own bodyguard?

Chinese schools are really the best. The children come out lean and mean. Unfortunately, they are politiclly incorrect, so you can’t have too many of them.


For our nation to progress, we HAVE to use English. Even if Englishis not the medium of instruction, our students need a good working knowledge of English. If not, we will be left behind. Doctors need English or they cannot be updated on the latest medical research and end up practising medicine that is out of date. Similarly for other science subjects. Everyone knows this, but because of misplaced pride or for political mileage, some have turned a blind eye. The result – our students are handicapped and cannot compete with the rest of the developed world.


Pls read NST Wednesday 22 Apr 2009. Look at the page where the public share their views. Got one article about an opinion of a non-malay refusing to send their kids to the national school. the view point was touching on how the education system screw up with the national agenda, POL, religion and etc. all i can see are 1. some national school with the agenda of pro-UMNO 2. some national school with agenda of anti-PR 3. national school are not POL friendly. Should incorporate POL into the main time table instead of Saturday 4. too much islamisation culture… Read more »


Our education system teaches
i. What the syllabus and the textbook say.
ii. What the teacher thinks.

Anything contrary to this will not be beneficial to the academic assessment of the student within the system.


Anil, It is obvious to the older generation that the Malaysian education system have been going down the tube into the sewer system. All you need to do is talk to the younger students and you’ll find out right away. We have been wasting our children minds for too long. Why? Because we have an education system that does not educate but dictate. We have teachers that are not qualified to be teachers and we have government that is afraid to let the young minds blossom! Even in America they say “A mind is a terrible thing to waste!” How… Read more »


based on the feedback from the educators and teachers, this whole country’s education sysytem is already in a big mess. The confusion in the teachers grades are causing lots of senior teachers being neglected. Young teachers are enjoying fat salaries while their seniors are struggling to be at par with them, due to the short sightedness of those who planned the salary schemes. The changing of salary schemes in the last few years have benefited the young teachers while the senior teachers are being marginalised. The PTK examinations have frustrated many senior teachers while the young teachers who are inexperienced… Read more »


Can one episode be sufficient to support the claim that “our education system is in trouble”?


not only the education system is screwed, schools were told not to hang LGE’s picture !! instead, they were told to hand education minister’s picture !!

that shows you how low they can go.


What one commentator pointed out above got me thinking, and I actually observed it in more than one Federal government office in Penang.
To date, one year after GE 12, schools and various agencies under the Federal Government have refused the simple courtesy of recognising the Penang Chief Minister by placing his photograph there. Penang State government agencies, have of course, complied.

A DAP guy told me LGE didn’t want to make a fuss of it, because “its a waste of money anyway”.


What a joke. Now you know why the sitation is critical. Go and ask the senior lawyers in KL, some young lawyers and chambees cannot even speak basic English. How they pass law? I wonder. ============= I was sued by a local giant company, so I can testify your story is true. Besides English deficiency issue, their lawyers are very poor in logical thinking and rational argument. Their affidavit is like a love novel without facts. My 50++ old senior lawyer who graduated from UK shaking his head when I asked him why local young lawyers are “so loyar buruk”.… Read more »

Tree Cutter

The politicians are only interested in the crooked bridge and how to be one up on Singapore at this moment. Actually a lot are rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of securing the contracts relating to the crooked bridge. Soon all the uneducated Malaysians will be slaves to their southern neighbours.


Let’s do some simple math. On average, a Malaysian would spend 11 years in primary and secondary education. Another 2 years in a pre-university program. That’s a total of 13 years. And then, those who qualify would attend university and spend 3 years in a bachelor program. A university education consists of less than 20% of a person’s formal education. Our schools train our children to be parrots and they are told what they should believe, what opinions they should have, what is wrong and what is right. They’re trained to be parrots who spit out what was fed to… Read more »


This is already bad but the biggest joke is the fact that some teachers, cannot even speak proper English and the best part, they themselves teach the English subject.

What a joke. Now you know why the sitation is critical. Go and ask the senior lawyers in KL, some young lawyers and chambees cannot even speak basic English.

How they pass law? I wonder.

As for me, i am working super hard to send my children to private schools and later for overseas education.

Andrew I

In the past, whenever a general election was looming in the UK, students around this age were encouraged to espouse their political leanings in school debates. These leanings were no doubt shaped by their own parents’ political thinking. The merits and demerits of each party’s manifesto would be debated with gust and enthusiasm. Before the debate, those students who were taking part would try to convince fence sitters to support their cause. The day we see this in our education system is the day we would have reached educational excellence which, like good service, is hyped to no end but… Read more »

Plain Truth

The tens of thousands of local graduates who can’t find gainful employment even when times are good is a sad indictment of our local education system.

That is why our political elite educate their kids in international schools.

Anak Malaysia

I fully agree the education system needs overhaul to should the current era and not to the whim and fancy of the selfsh politicians.


Actually I’m quite worry with my nephew who always scoring As in his exams. He may not be able to accept life is imperfect, and up and down is a nature cycle like economics. Sometimes we have to accept C or E in our life scorecard with open mind. 🙂


Vic on April 22nd, 2009 at 2.58am


A petty quarrel in the school almost turned into a racial riot in Pekan Nenas.
Do you believe our schools can churn out rational, unbiased and peaceful minded students?


Prof. Khoo Kay Kim did criticize openly that many local university students with excellent and superb academic results, but they all know nothing. (semua pun tak tau!) My nephew from a lousy rural school scored 11A in his SPM recently. I told him 11A means nothing in life IF his brain is dumb like other bookworms. I was told only 11A and above scorers are selected for preliminary interview for the medicine matriculation. With my bitter experience in the local university, my best advice to him is let go to Singapore or elsewhere permanently IF he cannot get a place… Read more »