Primary school years
Malaysia is on the way to achieving universal primary education for her girls and boys.
Currently, it is estimated that primary education is near-universal*. Enrolment rate of girls is equal to that of boys. Literacy rates among the young is largely universal.
Broadening educational opportunities and upgrading the national education system has increased access to and enjoyment of other rights.
Malaysia’s success is in large part attributed to the Government’s commitment to education, as a strategy to reduce poverty and contribute to national development.
Since 1970, Malaysia has invested substantially in creating an environment conducive to primary education for all its children, including those living in rural areas. This includes providing proper infrastructure to ensure access to schools and supporting the needs of the poor through textbook loans, hostels, school health and milk programs as well as a supplementary food scheme. Government efforts have been supported at the family level by parents who perceive education as an opportunity to provide upward mobility and a better life for their children.
Despite Malaysia’s success, challenges remain to improve the quality of primary education including to ensure the relevance of curriculum, and adequate provision of support to teachers, especially in rural areas. Specially tailored and culturally sensitive programs are also required to motivate children from Malaysia’s Orang Asli and other indigenous communities to enrol and complete their primary education. Historically burdened with low school achievement rates, these children attend school depending on the seasonal nature of their household chores.
Given the rapid use of ICT throughout the country, education policies also need to be sensitive to the possible creation of a digital divide between rural and urban children, due to a less comprehensive ICT infrastructure in rural areas.
* Source: State of the World's Children, 2009
UNICEF in Action (HQ) - Basic Education & Gender Equality