Improving the Quality of Education Key for Sustained Growth in Malaysia

December 10, 2013


Raising education quality will be critical for Malaysia to achieve a high-performing education system that builds the human capital required for an innovation-led, high-income economy. View the slideshow.

Photo: Nafise Motlaq / World Bank

KUALA LUMPUR--- Malaysia's economy is expected to grow by 4.5 percent in 2013 after 5.6 percent in 2012, before accelerating to close to 5 percent in 2014 and 2015, according to a new World Bank report. The outlook for 2014 and 2015 reflects an expected recovery in the global economy.

"An improvement in the external environment will generate demand for Malaysia's exports." says Frederico Gil Sander, World Bank Senior Economist for Malaysia. "At the same time, tightening fiscal policy and likely rising global interest rates may dampen domestic demand.”

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Dato' Seri Wahid Omar remarked, "The upcoming 11th Malaysia Plan will be premised on six thrusts: harnessing talent, re-engineering economic growth, strengthening growth enablers, enhancing inclusivity, improving well-being and mainstreaming environment and resources management. It is the last phase of our development plan towards achieving high-income status."

Released today, the World Bank’s Malaysia Economic Monitor: High-Performing Education highlights the importance of building a high-performing education system for Malaysia's transformation into a high income, sustainable and inclusive economy.

Both access to learning and the quality of learning matter. International experience suggests that when children of all families have access to quality education they gain opportunities for better jobs and higher incomes. In short, they do better than their parents and break the poverty cycle. Malaysia has made great strides on access to education.

Quality remains a concern. In standardized international assessments Malaysian students perform well below their peers in the high-income economies Malaysia aspires to compete with. For example, among the 65 countries participating in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Malaysia ranks at number 52 for Math, 53 for Science and 59 for Reading.

“Malaysia now has near universal access, offering affordable schooling for children from all income levels." says Ulrich Zachau, World Bank Country Director for Malaysia. “Malaysia faces the challenge of turning schooling into learning. Our analysis suggests three priorities: moving more decisions to schools, information to parents, and good teachers into classrooms. We welcome recent initiatives in Malaysia that begin moving in these directions.”

The Malaysia Economic Monitor series provides an analytical perspective on the policy challenges facing Malaysia as it grows into a high-income economy. The series also represents an effort to reach out to a broad audience, including policymakers, private sector leaders, market participants, civil society and academia.

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