Tuesday June 5, 2012
By KAREN CHAPMAN and PRIYA KULASAGARAN
PETALING JAYA: The proposal to lower the formal schooling age from six years plus to five years plus has resurfaced again.
This time the proposal comes in a substantial form from the Education Ministry’s Interim Strategic Plan 2011-2020, complete with the year 2015 for implementation.
The plan states that children aged five plus are prepared to start schooling, with a long-term aim of producing quality human capital.
In the preface to the Interim Strategic Plan, Education Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Rosli Mohamed said the proposal to lower the formal schooling age as well as other moves included in the report were to ensure that every child was given the chance to succeed.
“The ministry will use the plan while waiting for the blueprint of the National Education Direction and Transformation,” he said.
Education director-general Tan Sri Abd Ghafar Mahmud said in the preface of the plan that it would be used as a guide to implement plans effectively and achieve targets.
The move to lower the school age would include amending the Education Act 1996, as Section 29 (of the Education Act 1996) states that children aged six must attend primary school.
The last time this proposal to lower the formal schooling age was made was during the tabling of the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in 2010.
Under the 10MP, the Government said it considered lowering the formal schooling age from six plus to five years plus as this would extend the access to structured education for children during their formative years.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said in 2010 that the lowering of the entry age to school had been discussed for some time.
Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said children were now more mature as they attended pre-school so this meant they should be able to enter formal schooling much earlier.
He said the age of children beginning school in many other countries was lower compared to Malaysia.
“Data show that as of 2009, over 700,000 pupils had undergone pre-schooling which is a gateway between the home and schooling life,” said the Interim Strategic Plan.
“Aside from mastering basic reading, writing and numeracy skills, pupils also gain socialising skills with their peers,” it said.
Other proposals include increasing compulsory schooling from the current six years to nine years (up to Form Three) and the implementation of a “semester system” in schools so that teachers are better able to monitor student performance and plan appropriate intervention programmes to help weaker pupils.
> See StarEducate on Sunday for highlights of the Interim Strategic Plan 2011-2020.