Poor Pre-school Education System in Malaysia
In absence of a systematically laid down syllabus and lack of both qualified pre-school teachers and adequate support services, pre-school education in Malaysia presents a sorry picture.
Pre-school education system, what are your thoughts?
Though the Education Ministry has laid down specific guidelines for the purpose, they are seldom adhered to, leading to a total mess.
The objectives of the ministry and the government are at loggerheads and this clash is taking a heavy toll on the quality of education. The ministry which seems to attach more importance to ‘improving self esteem and promoting good health’ does not seem to agree with the policies laid down by the government regarding the same. The latter is allegedly more interested in teaching the young ones to read and write and to count before primary school.
Critical issues in pre-school education system in Malaysia
Besides poor system of pre-school education, the two seem to be at crossroads on a number of issues like:
- Lack of fixed syllabus or lesson plans
- Laying down different techniques for teaching
- Laying different sets of qualifications for teachers
- Difference in lesson plans and syllabus for the tiny tots
In addition to the points laid down above, independent investigations by The Sun have suggested that the government is primarily interested in pushing up the rate of enrollment without paying much attention to the quality of education being meted out to the enrollees.
In absence of a clearly chalked out syllabus, the monitoring task for government agencies also becomes very difficult as the government controlled and managed pre schools fall under three agencies.
“The Education Ministry operates the pre-schools ('pra-sekolah'); the Rural and Regional Development Ministry administers the Community Development Department (Kemas); and the National Unity Department operates 'Perpaduan' pre-schools at Rukun Tetangga areas”, as reported by The Sun.
In addition to that, the pre schools in the private sector fall under the purview of the Education Ministry.
Poor Education System
Lack of qualified teachers required to run these schools makes the problem even worse. Only 3% pre-school teachers possess the formal qualifications laid down by the Ministry, as observed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the Deputy Prime Minister recently.
Since he is also the Education Minsiter, he seemed to know well about the ills ailing the system and pointed out, "Others only have on-the-job training or took pre-school education courses not recognised by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. By right, the teachers should have at least a diploma in early childhood education.”
Hashim Adnan, President of the National Union of Teaching Profession also complained about the working and functioning of the Kemas or kindergartens. The district education department, according to him, paid scant regard to the qualifications of the teachers while approving a Kema-being primarily concerned with the safety measures in and around the schools premises due to which most such Kemas were employing ‘untrained contract workers’.
The other problem ailing pre-schools, according to Hashim Adnan, is the lack of directives laid down by the government regarding the methods of teaching to be adopted in pre-schools. All private and government run pre-schools follow the teaching guidelines laid down by the National Pre-School Curriculum 2010 (KPSK), which together with Malaysia Kindergarten Association (PTM) conducts pre-school teaching programmes.
Jawathi Perera, the PTM Chairman, said “the word "teacher" is a misnomer as those employed at pre-schools are facilitators of games, activities and learning.
Teachers can employ their own means to teach so long as they cover from the first page to the last page" of the KPSK.
"So long as all the components are there (in the teaching), they can teach it any way they want," she said, explaining that the KPSK was designed in an "eclectic and thematic method" different from traditional techniques in schools.
In fact, it is not compulsory to produce children who are able to read, write and count, she stressed. There are no strict rules as the children need to progress at their own rate.”
While a majority of the students (almost 95% of them) are able to cope up with the rigorous demands of the existing ‘system’, slow learners are unable to do so due to which they have to continue learning at the pre-school.
Highly critical of the existing method of teaching and the resulting state of affairs, Jawathi Perera emphasized that the job of the teachers is to “expose and prepare” the primary school children for the life ahead.
“The teacher should be very creative, innovative, (and) must see where the child is lacking, (and) what it is she can do for the child.
“By and large, teachers are left to their own initiatives. However, they are forced to operate under an overall system that has no uniform focus and remains inconsistent, varied and discrepant.”
The state of pre-school education, therefore, continues to falter with no hope of improvement in the near future.