Mushrooming of private schooling options in Malaysia, what are the pitfalls?

My article on private school education in Malaysia has just been published in Feb 2018 edition of the Selangor Journal. In this article I posed a few considerations that Malaysian parents of school-going kids must think through if they’re contemplating on “going private” and opined that “more choices need not necessarily lead to better options”

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The difference in governance between school and college sectors

I think because historically there have been a multitude of political implications due to policies on higher education this sector is very tightly controlled by the government where there are six notable Acts of Parliament governing the industry, namely:

  • The Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 (ACT 555 which has been amended a few times with the latest version being published since Dec 01, 2015);
  • The Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (latest revision: 2012);
  • The Malaysian Qualifications Agency Act 2007 (latest revision: 2017);
  • The National Council For Higher Education Act 1996 (latest revision: 2006);
  • The Educational Institutions (Discipline) Act 1976 (latest revision: 2006); and
  • The Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional Act 1997 (latest revision: 2006).

In contrast, after an extensive search of the website of the Attorney General’s Chamber of Malaysia, I could really just find the Education Act 1996 (latest revision: 2012) which governs the entire pre-school, primary to secondary school sectors.

Tighter control over private schooling?

The proliferation of private schooling options over the last five years has resulted in Malaysia having 423 such institutions under the purview of the Ministry of Education. I think the governance of these 423 institutions is well set out in the Education Act 1996 and the many guidelines etc. that have been developed over the years. It is the mushrooming of homeschooling centres and tuition centres offering foreign secondary school curriculum that seem to escape the radar of the power that be.

Even for the higher education sector which has six laws governing it, there were many notable instances of the consumers (parents and students) being short changed. Thus for a sector like the homeschooling and iGCSE tuition centres that has been very loosely governed, in my humble opinion, there will be cases of the consumers getting a raw deal soon.

Longer duration of stay of the schooling sector

Higher education players typically have their students studying with them for between 2.5 to 5 years and their students are technically young adults, most of whom are aged 18 and above pursuing diploma (2.5 years in duration), pre-university (1 to 1.5 years in duration) and degree (3 – 4 years in duration). As young adults, college students are much better than their younger counterparts at schools to fend for themselves and to know their rights and obligations of the institutions of higher learning that they are enrolled in.

In contrast children will receive typically two years of preschool education, six years of primary education and at least five years of secondary education, making a typical duration of stay in the private schooling institutions of 13 years, that is 2.5 to over 5 times the duration of stay at the higher education sector.

Hence with the much longer duration of stay and that the greater impact of early education on a person’s development, it is vital that children, especially those enrolled in learning centres outside the purview of the Ministry of Education, be given better consumer protection. Thus higher rigour in governance of such private homeschooling centres should be considered by the power that be. Unlike physical goods, you just cannot undone or “return” inappropriate schooling received!

[You can get a hardcopy at selected Giant Hypermarkets and the town council office (I couldn’t get hold of a copy as yet!). But if you want to read it now, you can download a copy here: http://bit.ly/SelangorJournalFeb2018 ]

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