My Take On Schools

My Take On Schools

Hope everyone is enjoying Melbourne’s summer weather.

Belinda has suggested to me to write up about the difference of education system between Malaysia and Australia.

What a coincidence as my partner and I talked about this not long ago. We don’t mind our little one goes to the public school and don’t really mind he goes to Prep at 5yo even a lot of parents that we spoke to would hold them back if they think their child is not ready for it.

In Malaysia, the education system is really different from Australia. We start kindergarten at 3-6 years old. You either attend 2-3 years of kinder which I did for 3-years and then enter Grade 1 at 6 years old. I believe in Australia there is a “cut off” date of when you could go to prep according to the month of the year. In Malaysia, you attend school according to the birth year. So, by saying that, if you are born later in the year then you’ll be the youngest in the class (I was born in November and I was one of the youngest in the class).


Adapted from Wikipedia – Kinder to Primary School in Malaysia

“There are no fixed rules on when a child needs to start preschool education but majority would start when the child turns 3 years old. Preschool education usually lasts for 2 years, before they proceed to primary school at age 7. Preschool education is not compulsory.”

In Malaysia preschool education is mainly provided by private for-profit preschools, though some are run by the government or religious groups. Some primary schools have attached preschool sections. Attendance in a preschool program is not universal; while people living in urban areas are generally able to send their children to private kindergartens, few do in rural areas.

All schools admit students regardless of racial and language background.

Malay and English are compulsory subjects in all schools. All schools use the same syllabus for non-language subjects regardless of the medium of instruction. A National School must provide the teaching of Chinese or Tamil language, as well as indigenous languages wherever practical.


I started in Grade 1 as 6yo and attended a Chinese school as my Mum thought it would be a great idea learning Chinese given our background. Unfortunately, my Mum didn’t like the teaching methods as it was too simple especially with Chinese writing/characters. So, then I switched over to a Public primary school at Grade 2 and continued on here all the way to Year 11.

Year 12_b
My Year 12 friends in Melbourne, 2016

Adapted from Wikipedia – Primary to High School in Malaysia

“Public secondary education in Malaysia is provided by National Secondary Schools/The Malaysian government and Malay is the as the main language medium of instruction. English is a compulsory subject in all schools.”

Secondary education lasts for five years, referred to as Form 1 to 5.

Form 1 to Form 3 are known as Lower Secondary, while Form 4 and 5 are known as Upper Secondary.

Most students who had completed primary education are admitted to Form 1 but there is a minimum standard to achieve in primary school become you are admitted to high school.

At the end of Form 3 a Lower Secondary Evaluation is taken by students. Based on these results and choice, they will be given three streams to choose from, (1)Academic Stream (Science/Art), Technical and Vocational Stream, and Religious Stream. The Academic stream is generally more desirable. Students are allowed to shift to the Arts stream from the Science stream, but rarely vice versa. [Belinda edit: This seems very similar to being in Year 9 and picking elective subjects for Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE)]

At the end of Form 5, students are required to take the Malaysian Certificate of Education examination, before graduating from secondary school.

My main observation with the education system in Australia compared to Malaysia is that in the last two years of high school really make a big difference to be accepted locally or going to oversea to study at University. There is a very low chance of being accepted into a local University being a non-Muslim with only 10% acceptance rate.


Adapted from Wikipedia – University in Malaysia

Tertiary education is heavily subsidised by the government.

Students have the option of enrolling in private tertiary institutions after secondary studies. Private universities are gaining a reputation for international quality education and students from all over the world attend them. Many of these institutions offer courses in co-operation with a foreign institute or university — especially in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia — allowing students to spend a portion of their course abroad as well as getting overseas qualifications.

Many private colleges offer programmes whereby the student does part of his degree course here and part of it in the other institution; this is called “twinning”. Some of them are branch campuses of these foreign institutions. A branch can be seen as an ‘offshore campus’ of the foreign university, which offers the same courses and awards as the main campus. Local and international students can acquire these identical foreign qualifications in Malaysia at a lower fee.


Year 12_a
My Year 12 friends, reunion in Kuala Lumpur, 2015

I didn’t do quite well in Year 11 (too involved in playing sport) and didn’t get an offer to study in the public school Year 12. I took some time off and went to work part-time. I realised I really like sports and I did a Diploma in Sports Injuries in a local program.

After 18 months I completed the course and I decided I would like to continue in this field and went back to do Year 12 in a private college so I could go to an oversea university since I didn’t qualify for the local university. Unfortunately I was late to enroll as everyone had a head start being a month ahead of me and I was also the oldest in the class. I struggled to catch-up and it was a big challenge as all the subjects are taught in English.

I also struggled with Maths and I hired a tutor to help me. I chose odd subjects so I could get high scores to get into University – Maths and English are compulsory subjects then picked subjects: Biology, History and Malay then I got accepted into the Australian Catholic University and did a Bachelor Degree in Human Movement.

PS: On top of going to school, a lot of my friends attended extra tuition classes after school. I did a few sessions and hated it. My mum hired private tutors for us. All I can say, I didn’t like studying back then.

School also divided into 2 sessions, morning from 7.30-1pm and 1.15pm to 6.30pm Monday to Friday which makes a very long day!

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