Education has become an important part of lives. Schools, specifically, provide us the necessary tools needed to face life once we graduate. However, not all schools are the same. If we take a look at both the American and Malaysian secondary education systems, they’re completely different. In the US, you can pick the electives of your choice, like Physical Education, Social Studies, and Mathematics. Plus, these are only categories of subjects. In Malaysia, you also have a short list of electives to choose from, however, certain electives like engineering, are only available in vocational schools. So, studying in Malaysia is a unique experience. I’ve studied for 9 years in the Malaysian syllabus and below will be my experience in both Primary and Secondary Schools in Malaysia. I will also give you my experience on studying in a Malaysian university.
Studying in Malaysia
I will rate both primary and secondary schools based on peers, education quality, teacher’s roles, and the overall experience.
Any type of school in Malaysia is like “Survival of the Fittest”. As in the theory, only those best adapt to their surrounding environment can live a peaceful life in Malaysian school. Trust me when I say it’s almost impossible to be unique. If you try to be quiet, the students with the inferiority complex will bully you. If you try to connect with anyone, you might find it almost impossible to find a relatable person. In short, you’ll have to find a group, act like you’re interested in what their interested in, and just blend in. If you don’t, trust me, you’ll hate it there. However, it is actually similar to many other schools, there are the mean girls, the teacher’s pets, sluts (Yes, primary schools also have sluts), jocks, however, there are no nerds. Which, unfortunately, I am.
Education in Malaysian primary schools can be considered very mediocre in certain countries. The number of subjects you can participate is large. There’s an IT subject, the basic core subjects, crafting subject (replaced by cooking for girls only), history, physical education, music, and moral education. The only problem is their comprehensiveness level. Our English subjects are only par with preschool English in the US. As for Science, in early years, it’s very mediocre, but improves in later years (Still, not American level). The mathematics subject is also very mediocre when compared to the American equivalent.
Studying in Malaysia, I learned that teachers play a very normal role in Malaysian primary schools, they teach the subjects they are assigned to and also discipline their students if needed. If you’re wondering, there are physical punishments like whipping in Malaysian schools. Some of the punishments are even extreme and can be considered child abuse. However, since many parents don’t care, the teacher’s actions are left ignored. Just something to note, if are actually a sane parent.
Putting my personal feelings aside, some teachers do actually care about their students’ performance and they go the extra mile by tutoring them. However, let me say that this is a VERY rare occurrence. This only happens with some teachers in some schools. Also, teachers in Malaysia, in general, are very opinionated. They assume that their way of teaching is right, even if they have no experience in that field. An example, my science teacher said that a hibiscus leaf is shaped ovally, comment below if the leaf below is shaped ovally.
To give you other details about the Malaysian primary schools, you are required to line-up with a partner when going to the cafeteria. Also, expect very unhealthy meals at the cafeteria. On every Monday, there’ll be an assembly meeting. Also, the language of most elective subjects will be in your school’s ethnic language. Finally, everyone has to wear a formal uniform. In terms of the environment, it’s basically like a strict boarding school. That’s all the information I can give if you want your child to study in Malaysia for his/her primary education.
In secondary school, the types of students you can find diversifies. You might actually meet nerds this time. However, ethnically, there are more types of students there. From my experience, I was bullied a lot by other Malay students due to my silent nature. Indian students would be a little and I mean a little bit more friendly than other races. There weren’t any Chineses in my school, so I can’t judge. In terms of other ethnicities, there were none in my school. Also, Malay students might actually become a lifelong friend yours if you do actually find a way to connect. So basically, it’s a bit better than primary school. Also, if you or your child (for parents) is autistic, then I recommend you to a private school as you’ll hear 24 hours of swearing from most of the classes.
Studying in Malaysia in secondary schools can be very boring. Only recently have the government has brought in assessment-based grading for subjects and that is also limited to elective subjects. From my years, the assessments are only exercises from workbooks. They’re nothing like the projects or pop-quizzes offered in the US syllabuses. Plus, this structure changes to a full exam-based grading after moving to upper secondary. In terms of education quality, English is still mediocre compared to most countries. Science, however, is more challenging with more topics to learn. Mathematics, also, increased in difficulty. This is, of course, benchmarked against the IGCSE equivalents.
Studying in Malaysia, while relying on teachers can be tough, especially in secondary school. I will keep this segment short. In one sentence, teachers in secondary schools have become extremely lazy. Some teachers even just only sit at the front desk, while the students just make a ruckus. They don’t try in any way to help their students at all. Whether they need a push or if they don’t understand a problem. Even during my times, if a student doesn’t know an answer to a problem, instead of helping him/her to solve it, they give a whipping and move on to another student. This ideology seems way stupid if you ask me.
There are some teachers who will help in terms of crisis, but that will most likely be the guidance counselor or even the disciplinary teacher.
Again, it’s basically like boarding school, but you stay at home. Also, unlike some foreign schools, you cannot jump grades.
College is where you’ll finally meet people who might be like you. However, that also depends on the type of college you’ll be enrolling. My perspective is based on studying at INTI International University Nilai. There are many great friendly students at INTI. No matter what type of race you’ll encounter, everyone will be so friendly. You will also find a way to connect with also anyone. To simply put, even introverts can have a great social life at INTI. Studying in Malaysia can be fun at INTI.
This will be looked at a business student’s perspective. Education at INTI is of top quality. The course syllabus is based on well-known business theories. Although there are few practical assignments, each assignment will teach you valuable business skills. However, a college’s education quality can only be based on its ranking. INTI is within the top 20 colleges in Malaysia, which is why it offers excellent business courses. If you want to study in Malaysia in a business college, I highly recommend INTI.
Some lecturers will help you in many ways. They might extend your deadline if you have a good reason, they might correct and provide feedback on assignments before grading or they might even provide the answers to assignments/exams before attempting the assignment/exam. However, some lecturers will push you to your limit by critiquing even correct answers. Unlike primary and secondary schools, lecturers at college will vary with each lecturer.
My overall experience, based on studying at Malaysia, specifically INTI International University is that the experience is enjoyable. Not only will you learn many different things, you gain a recognized degree, and widen your social circle.
Studying in Malaysia can be a difficult thing in the early ages of a student. However, like your best friend says after a breakup “It gets better with time.”. Remember, while I do say that studying in Malaysia can be difficult and mention that primary and secondary school’s education quality is slightly bad, it’s based on Port Dickson public schools. Studying in Malaysia at other states or cities might yield a different result. Homeschooling in Malaysia is also possible