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Education in Malaysia

 

Education in Malaysia is overseen by the Ministry of Education (Kementerian Pendidikan). Although education is the responsibility of the Federal Government, each state and federal territory has an Education Department to co-ordinate educational matters in its territory. The main legislation governing education is the Education Act 1996.
British historian Richard O. Winstedt worked to improve the education of the Malays and was instrumental in establishing Sultan Idris Training College with the purpose of producing Malay teachers. Richard James Wilkinson helped established the Malay College Kuala Kangsar in 1905 which aimed to educate the Malay elite.
Missionaries of Christian denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Josephian order and the Lasallian Brothers, Marist Brothers, Seventh-day Adventists, Anglicans, and Methodists started a series of mission schools which provided primary and secondary education in the English language. Most of these were single-sex schools. Although nowadays they have fully assimilated into the Malay-medium national school system and most admit students regardless of gender and background (some single-sex schools remain), many of the schools still bear their original names, such as the ones with the names of saints or words such as "Catholic", "Convent", "Advent" and "Methodist".
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 programme is not universal; while people living in urban areas are generally able to send their children to private kindergartens, few do in rural areas. Registered preschools are subjected to zoning regulations and must comply to other regulations such as health screening, fire hazard assessment and educational guidelines. Many preschools are located in high density residential areas, where normal residential units compliant to regulations are converted into the schools.
The net outflow of academics from Malaysia led to a "brain gain" scheme by then (1995) Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The scheme set a target of attracting 5,000 talents annually. In 2004, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis in a parliamentary reply stated that the scheme attracted 94 scientists (24 Malaysians) in pharmacology, medicine, semi-conductor technology and engineering from abroad between 1995 and 2000. At the time of his reply, only one was remaining in Malaysia.