Malaysia Liaison

Masako Kuroda, Early Childhood Care and Education of Malaysia

Last updated January 2016

Greetings From Malaysia

Philosophy of Education in Malaysia
“Education in Malaysia is a continuous effort towards enhancing potentials of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner in order to create individuals who are well-equipped intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. This effort aims to produce knowledgeable, ethical and responsible Malaysian citizens who can contribute towards the harmony and prosperity.”

The National Education System
With reference to the above Philosophy of Education in Malaysia, the education sector provides for lifelong learning. Malaysia believes that every child has the right to quality care and holistic development to support physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual well-being.

Formal learning begins with early childhood care and education (ECCE) and continues through tertiary and post-graduate studies. ECCE comprises preschools for children 4-6 years and child care centers for children younger than 4. As one of the signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Government of Malaysia has implemented the following:

  • The Child Care Centre Act of 1984, amendment 2007 (Act 308 and Act A1285) established a set of minimum quality standards—referring to cognitive development, nutrition, safe and healthy environments, and regulations about obtaining proper staff—for the operation of child care centers for children younger than 4.
  • The National Education Act of 1996 (Act 550) (replaced the Education Act of 1961) formally recognized preschool education as part of the school system. The National Preschool Curriculum was put into place and quality standards were formulated.
  • The National Nutrition Policy (2003) was developed to ensure the availability of safe and nutritious food for children’s optimal growth and development.
  • The Early Childhood Care and Development Policy (2008) concretizes and consolidates existing national policies on early childhood, with the aim of providing holistic development of children from birth to 4.

The following ministries and government agencies are working to achieve these goals:

  • The Ministry of Health (MoH) oversees the healthy development of children, including maternal health, immunization, and frequent medical visits and examinations for children.
  • The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (MoWFCD), through the Department of Social Welfare, monitors, licenses, and regulates the establishment, administration, and expansion of child care centers.
  • The Ministry of Education (MoE) ensures that all preschools adhere to the National Preschool Curriculum and maintain quality in their programs. It also keeps a database on all preschools in the country.

Some of the Projects and Activities Carried Out in 2015

1.  Noteworthy Practices: PACOS TRUST, Sabah and Sarawak – an NGO-initiated program

In Malaysia, NGOs have made important contributions in expanding access to quality ECCE for children from indigenous communities, particularly in difficult-to-reach areas. Many of these NGOs provide support to ECCE as a component of a more comprehensive community-based support program. One of the largest providers of ECCE in indigenous communities is the PACOS Trust. PACOS supports community organizations in 12 districts involving 25 geographical areas in the state of Sabah. Currently, it has 17 ECCE centers in the interior of Sabah serving 2,020 children with 71 teachers and caregivers. PACOS preschools are mostly built through sponsorships from international bodies and companies, such as RALLY and NESTLE, in joint efforts with the local communities.

Key objectives of the PACOS Trust are:

• To prepare children for primary school using the curriculum from the Ministry of Education of Malaysia and other programs based on local materials, mother tongue, and local culture and values.
• To give supplementary education on health, nutrition, and environment.
• To promote and share issues concerning gender, land, economy, indigenous knowledge, and other issues connected with children.
• To strengthen early childhood care and development skills in families and communities.

2.  Big Books prepared by Curriculum Development Division

A series of Big Books with stories and illustrations provided by Ministry of Education (MOE) preschool teachers were published by the Curriculum Development Division of the MOE. These books were disseminated to all public preschools, where the majority of the children are from lower socio-economic backgrounds and where resource materials can be scarce. Instructions for activities that can be conducted using these Big Books were also provided.

Big Books are much sought after by preschool teachers in public and private preschools. MOE provided the books free to all government preschools. The books also have been given out to some preschools run by NGOs. The contents of these Big Books feature local cultures and local products. In order to be cost-efficient, these Big Books were written, designed, sketched, and drawn by MOE preschool teachers in workshops organized by the MOE.

SeDidik Centers for indigenous children is a state government-initiated, community-driven project. There are still many rural, remote areas in Malaysia, especially in the state of Sarawak, where there is no access to ECCE. The Sarawak State Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) thus established SeDidik in 1990 to spearhead development and provision of ECCE in the state.

SeDidik Centers represent public-private partnership, providing advocacy and other services to the local community under the Children and Family Development Program. Its key activities include:

• Coordinating with mothers to develop children’s learning materials and sharing knowledge about health, diet, and safety at home, etc., with the mothers
• Enhancing parenting skills through parenting seminars, recognizing that parents are children’s first and primary educators
• Serving as community learning centers for the mothers as well as a center for child development.

3. National Association of Early Childhood Care and Education Malaysia (NAECCEM)

National Association of Early Childhood Care and Education Malaysia (NAECCEM) was initiated in 1999 to be an umbrella body acting in the interests of children from birth to 8 years. A non-profit and non-governmental organization, NAECCEM promotes the inherent rights, education, and well-being of Malaysian children through competent, trained child care professionals in the home, school, and community. Guided by a dynamic philosophy of care and education, NAECCEM meets the needs of our children in a developing nation and changing society.

Major programs and activities
NAECCEM has carried out seminars on child care management and workshops. NAECCEM also has led a delegation of child care operators, principals, academicians, and entrepreneurs to participate in the World Forum on Early Care and Education organized by Child Care Information Exchange.

Early Childhood Education Expo 2015 (ECEE)
ECEE co-located with Perfect Mom and Baby Expo opened at Setia City Convention Center (SCCC) on 15-16 August 2015. This Event was opened to the public with free admission. This platform showcased a range of preschools, including international schools, Islamic preschools, kindergartens, enrichment centers, education products, and health and baby products. The organizer lined up numerous stage programs to enrich parents’ knowledge and provide entertainment. Some of the highlights included free dental check-ups, role play from Kidzania, a coloring contest, and a costume play contest. Kids were encouraged to be part of the event and nurture their childhood experience.

The Early Child Care and Education Council (ECCE Council) - Better qualifications for preschool teachers
The Early Child Care and Education Council (ECCE Council) was established on 30 December 2010 as an enabler for EPP1 (Entry Point Project 1): Ramping Early Child Care and Education, which is an initiative under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). The purpose for setting up this Council is to act as a link between the ECCE industry and the government and to professionalize and ensure quality control in the ECCE industry. The Council was launched by the YAB Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd Yassin, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Education on 18 August 2011 in the SSM Auditorium (Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia).

The launch was attended by a wide spectrum of society – representatives from the government, public and private universities and colleges, and ECCE training institutions, as well as child care providers, preschool teachers, and entrepreneurs in the industry, parents, and the corporate sector.

The welcoming address was given by Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng, the President of the Executive Committee of the Council. At the launch, YAB Tan Sri Muhyiddin presented her with a letter of appointment as the Champion for EPP1.
For more information:

Education for All 2015 National Review Report: Malaysia, go here to access the report.

Pacos Trust: A community-based organization dedicated to supporting indigenous communities in Sabah:

ARNEC’s Country of the Month Feature- February 2015 Malaysia:

Early Childhood Education Expo: