Homeschooling in Malaysia: Legal Issues
Education in Malaysia
LIKE MOST THINGS IN LIFE, education in Malaysia is in constant flux. Policies are made and unmade, and flip-flops are not unusual. This section is not intended to review every controversy, but to provide a brief overview of regulations (legislated and unwritten) pertaining to educating a child outside the traditional schooling system. Because things are constantly being reviewed, some of the information provided below will certainly change. Do email me if you have new and additional info that would be helpful to our readers.
Meanwhile, the following still applies:
- Visit the Ministry of Education (MOE) website here
- Public education is FREE in Malaysia. For an overview of public schooling in Malaysia and relevant laws, go here.
- Nevertheless, compulsory Primary Education has been in force since amendments were made to the Education Act 1996 (Act 550), to include Section 29A. The amended section now reads:
(1) The Minister may, by order published in the education Gazette, prescribe primary education to be compulsory education.
(2) Every parent who is a Malaysian citizen residing in Malaysia shall ensure that if his child has attained the age of six years on the first day of January of the current school year that child is enrolled as a pupil in a primary school in that year and remains a pupil in a primary school for the duration of the compulsory education.
(3) The Minister may, if he considers it desirable and in the interest of the pupils or the public to do so, by order published in the Gazette, exempt any pupil or any class of pupils from the requirement to attend compulsory education, either absolutely or subject to such conditions as he may think fit to impose, and may at any time in his discretion revoke the exemption or revoke or alter or add to such conditions.
(4) A parent who contravenes subsection (2) shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both.
(5) The Minister may make regulations for the carrying into effect of the provisions of this section.
Note that compulsory education applies only to Primary School. Secondary school is presently not mandatory under the above Act. After Standard 6, Malaysian students are not compelled to be enrolled in a Secondary School and a child may choose to continue formal education in a private or public school, or abandon it altogether .
Applying to homeschool
According to the Act, any parent who wishes their child to be exempt from schooling must apply to the MOE. Soon after the Act was passed in 2003, following a personal enquiry to the Ministry, 3 conditions were mentioned as requisite for exemption:
- The child in question should be medically certified as unfit (learning disabled) or not suited (high IQ/exceptionally gifted) for conventional schooling
- The family is constantly travelling abroad
- The curriculum used must be the National Curriculum in the main, while others could be used as supplement.
Subsequently in a written reply to a local daily in 2004, the Ministry of Education said the following factors would be considered in applications for exemption:
- The parents’ and child’s nationality and residence status;
- Whether the child has registered in a school;
- Reasons for requiring home schooling;
- The parents’ ability to home school;
- The suitability of the home-schooling plan devised by the parents, and
- The curriculum, timetable and methods of assessment used.
Conditional approval will be given once the minister is satisfied that the factors above have been met. The conditions include:
- The number of years exempted;
- The use of the KBSR curriculum; and
- Allowing an officer from the ministry to monitor the progress.
Applications may be addressed to:
Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia
Aras 2, Blok E2,
Kompleks Kerajaan Parcel E,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan