ABSTRACT

The contribution of education to Malaysia’s national development has long been recognized. Economists see in education a means to develop qualified manpower for economic needs. Politicians see in it a foundation for political stability and democracy. Malaysia comprises about 55% Malays and other indigenous groups, 30% Chinese, and 10% Indians. In this multiracial context, Malaysia’s education policy functions as an important instrument for national unity. It comprises a common curriculum, a common language—Bahasa Malay—as the medium of instruction, and centrally trained teachers. In this way students are socialized and instilled with values that support the national ideology and visions of a united and progressive nation. Most schools teach in Bahasa Malay. A small number use either Mandarin or Tamil, the languages of ethnic Chinese and Indians, respectively, as a medium of instruction. Education in Malaysia is thus assigned the primary function of socializing children into accepted community values and behavior.