Education Structure in Malaysia

Preschool: According to the Malaysian system of education, pre-school education commences at the age of 4. Once a child reaches 6 years on the first day of January in a school year, he/she enters the first year of compulsory primary education. Following the completion of primary education, students go on to complete secondary and post secondary education. University studies comprises the final stage of education.

Primary and Secondary Education: Primary education lasts for 6 years and this is followed by 5 years of secondary education. While primary and secondary education are provided free of cost by the government, further education is subject to the academic performance and financial capabilities of the student. 

Further Studies: School leavers who have obtained certain qualifications can opt for further studies at post-secondary schools to obtain pre-university qualifications. These include sixth form, matriculation programmes, pre-university qualifications such as GCE “A.” Education can further be completed at tertiary or higher educational institutions which then leads to an award of a certificate or diploma. Study opportunities at higher levels include certificate, diploma and undergraduate and postgraduate studies. While undergraduate courses include professional studies and bachelor degrees, postgraduate or higher studies involve Master’s degrees and doctorates. 

Higher Education: Higher education at the diploma level for secondary school certificate holders/SPM from 17 years onwards is different from the Bachelor’s degree. Those opting for Bachelor’s degree courses need post secondary qualifications such as STPM equivalent to the GCE “A” level and other pre-university qualifications. The structure of education in Malaysia can be divided into pre-tertiary and higher education levels. While the Ministry of Education Malaysia oversees pre-tertiary education from pre-school to primary, secondary and teacher education), higher studies fall under the purview of the Ministry of Higher Education.   

Levels of the Education Structure

The national education system includes the following levels of education namely:
  • Pre-primary/Kindergarten Education for children between the ages of 4 to 6
  • Primary Education from ages 7 to 12 which is equivalent to Standards 1 to 6
  • Secondary Education is from age 13 to 17 for students from Form 1 to Form 3
  • Upper Secondary Education is for students aged 16 to 17 which is Form 4 to Form 5: this includes academic secondary education, technical/vocational secondary education and religious secondary education.
  • Post-secondary Education in the Pre-University from age 18 for 1 to 2 years- either in Form 6 for one and a half years or Matriculation certificate for one year
  • Higher Education.
Higher Education: Higher education comprises certificate and diploma education at polytechnics or colleges from the age of 18. At teacher training institutes, education commences from age 18 onwards. Bachelor’s degree programmes range from age 19 or 20 for three to five years. Postgraduate studies involve studying for master’s or PhD studies following acquisition of a Bachelor’s degree for one to five years.
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