EDU401 Education Comparison


Comparative Studies: Malaysia and Israel Education System

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School System



School Type



School Autonomy



Student Assessment



School Study Hour



Compulsory Education



Free Education



Assurance of Employment



National Instilment



International Exchange of Students and Lecturers








1.0 Introduction

1.1 Israel

Israel is a country in Southwest Asia located on the southeastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. The population is about 7.2 million which majority are Jews, Israel is the world’s only Jewish state. It is also home to Arab Muslims, Christians and Druze, as well as other religious and ethnic minority groups. Jerusalem is the nation’s capital, seat of government, and largest city. Hebrew language is emphasized and admired by the nations. Israel education is one of the top educations in the world as it has efficient and effective system and materials.

1.2 Malaysia

Malaysia is a federation of thirteen states and three federal territories in Southeast Asia with a total landmass of 329,847 km. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. It is separated into two regions; the Malay Peninsula and Borneo by the South China Sea. Malaysia is headed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and politically led by a Prime Minister. The official national language is Malay Language which is obliged to be learned and used by the citizens. Apparently, the country is taking concerted efforts of enhancing the national education as the educational aims are to produce quality citizens for the country and to achieve international recognition.

1.3 Similarity and difference of education in both nations

Malaysia and Israel are both concerned with the quality of the national education. Nevertheless, the two nations have unique education system to serve the purpose of educating their students. Malaysia is striving towards enhancing the quality of the national education not only for the citizens but also in the eyes of the world while Israel is a country that has a high quality of education which is recognized internationally. Both nations have lots of differences in education yet they share some distinct similarities.

2.0 School System

2.1 Israel

Basically the education system in Israel consists of three tiers, up to the secondary education level, which are the primary education (grade 1 – 6), followed by a middle school (grade 7 – 9), and then high school (grade 10 – 12). Compulsory education is from grade 1 – 12. School attendance is mandatory from age 6 to 16 and free to age 18.

There are three types of secondary schools in Israel namely the general academic high school, which prepares students to take the national matriculation examination, passage of which was necessary to enter university, vocational high schools, and agricultural high schools. Diplomas are offered in the latter two schools which allow holders to continue in technical or engineering fields at the post-secondary level but do not lead to matriculation exam.

Secondary education mostly consists of preparation for the Israeli matriculation exams. These are made up of a multitude of subject matter exams covering various academic disciplines. Any student with a passing mark on the minimum required matriculation subjects (Hebrew language, English language, Mathematics, scripture, and literature), a total of at least 21 earned matriculation units, and at least one subject tested and passed at the 5 unit’s level of difficulty receives a full matriculation certificate.

After secondary education, students are generally conscripted into the Israel Defense Force (IDF), but may request an extension of the conscription date to study at a pre-service Mechina, or in a college or university. Those who studies in a university at this stage have their Bachelor’s Degree is paid by the army. However, they are obligated to sign a contract with the army extending their service by 2 to 3 years. After service in the IDF, any Israeli with a full matriculation certificate can proceed to higher education. Universities generally require a certain amount of matriculation units as well as a certain grade average, and a good grade in the Psychometric Entrance Test. All universities, and some colleges, are subsidized by the state and students pay only a small part of the actual cost as tuition.

2.2 Malaysia

In Malaysia, children usually attend pre-school by the age of 5. Apparently, there is no formal pre-school in Malaysia but principals and teachers whom are about to operate a pre-school should have a formal mandatory training and certification.

The primary education consists of six years of education, which is commonly referred to as Year 1 to Year 6. Children usually start attending this period of education by the age of 7 and end at 12. At the end of this primary education, they have to sit for a standardized test which is known as Primary School Evaluation Test (UPSR). Regardless of their academic performance, they are still promoted to the next year.

In secondary school, students have to attend 5 years of schooling which is referred to as Form 1 to Form 5. They have to undergo an examination of Lower Secondary Evaluation (PMR), which is formerly known as Lower Certificate of Education (SRP), at the end of Form 3. Their result with determine which stream they will take, either the Science stream or the Arts stream when they proceed to Form 4. When they reach the final year, Form 5, they are required to take the examination of Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM), before graduating from secondary school.

Once graduating from Form 5, students are left with two choices to pursue studies. The first choice is that they may apply for admission to matriculation (pre-university), which is a one or two-year programme run by the Ministry of Education and some private colleges. The second choice is that they can apply for Form 6 and once they are accepted, they are entitled to sit for Malaysian Higher School Certificate examination at the end of their studies in Form 6.

Tertiary education in the public universities is heavily subsidized by the government. Applicants to public universities must have completed the Malaysian matriculation programme or have an STPM grade.

3.0 School Types

In Israel and Malaysia, the school education is divided into many types according to the needs of the students. The most profound reason of the existence more than one type of school is because of the multiracial and religious needs.

3.1 Israel

There are three types of school in Israel: State school, State religious school, Arab and Druze school and private school. State schools are attended by the majority of pupils: Focus on secular and scientific studies. State religious schools are dominated by orthodox Jewish children since it emphasizes on Jewish studies, tradition and observance. Arab and Druze schools which are meant for the Arabs mostly Muslim focuses on Arab and Druze history, religion and culture. Private schools are administered by private bodies mostly are religious and, international auspices which focuses on different aspects of education. Individuals with special educational needs are accommodated according to their ability and handicap in the regular education system, with additional help, or at separate facilities.

3.2 Malaysia

There are two main types of school in Malaysia, National Schools and National-Type of school. National schools adopt Malay language as the medium of instruction while national-type of school is categorized into Chinese national-type of school and Tamil national-type of school which both emphasize the use of their respective languages. In addition, there are also religious schools which consists of state religious school, Hut school, Madrasah and national religious school which are meant for the Muslim only and emphasizes the teach of Islam. Recently, there are some schools established for certain purpose such as Vision school, Smart school and International schools. Private schools are also established mostly by the Chinese Public.

4.0 School Autonomy

4.1 Israel

In Israel education, the schools are bestowed with autonomy, in the belief that this will improve the quality of education provided by the school. The school staffs know their pupils better than the distant Ministry headquarters, and are thus capable of adapting teaching methods and the curriculum in the way best suited to the needs of the pupils. The organization of studies permits a maximal degree of freedom for the school in establishing a curriculum and schedule of hours.

Autonomy is expressed in every discipline or subject the school can decide the main fundamental concepts it wishes to teach. The subject chief inspectors and the Curriculum Division suggest particular fundamental concepts, but the school can choose from among these proposed concepts or suggest other concerts itself.

The school may decide on the time required for each pupil to learn the most important skills and concepts of each discipline or field. In other words, the curricula are not formulated in terms of the time required to learn a subject or a particular chapter, but in terms of the expected results, and the school may translate these into time-related terms as it sees fit.

4.2 Malaysia

Malaysia’s system of curriculum development is centralized. The Ministry of Education through its central agency, namely the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC), is responsible for initiating curriculum development. The CDC is totally in charge of the development of the school curriculum. In the implementation of the curriculum, however, various committees have been set up in the Ministry of Education, State Education Departments, Divisions/District Education Offices and schools.

Thus, the schools and teachers have little influence in selecting and shaping the curriculum. They do not have the power of decision-making on the subjects that should be taught, the text book, the schedule and the syllabus. They have to accept the verdict of the authority and are obliged to implement it.

5.0 Student Assessment

5.1 Israel

In Israel’s education, the assessments which are carried out in school are practical and autonomous. The school has the autonomy in conducting assessment in school. The assessment is not confined with written examination only but it goes beyond wide areas of technique. The assessment emphasizes the contextual understanding rather than evaluating restricted and limited knowledge. In fact, it is more concerned in assessing basic skills to high-order skills such as reasoning and explanatory thought.

The National Assessment Test which is a test given to primary school and lower secondary school is only given to a representative sample of a pupil population in order to avoid it becomes the focus of interest and reduce anxiety among the students, teachers and school. In fact, the test is implemented every year with different subjects being evaluated in each year.

5.2 Malaysia

Unlike Israel, the assessments come in a form of standardized written form which focuses more on the passive memorization of factual information rather than practical learning and higher-order thinking. The assessment methods are restricted mostly on written examination and conducted externally by the Ministry of Education. In each school level, the national exams such as Lower Certificate of Education (LCE) and Malaysian Certificate of Education examination (MCE) evaluate all the subjects being taught cumulatively in one final exam. The exam has become the main interest of the nation such as parents and schools that it imposes pressure on students to do well.

6.0 School Study Hour

6.1 Israel

Israel education imposes an extended school hour in order to improve students’ level of achievement. The students attend schools six days a week. The duration is approximately 103 hour until 121 hour per week which is the maximum duration. The study hour varies according to the type and level of school. For lower secondary school in both Hebrew education and Arab and Druze education, the study duration they take is maximum 111 hour with possible additional 12 hour for Hebrew education. As the students proceed to upper secondary school, they will take 107 maximum hours and some take maximum 121 hours per week.

6.2 Malaysia

As compared to Malaysia, our education does not impose such extended school programme as the pupils are only obliged to take approximately 30 study hours a week and attend schools 5 days a week excluding any necessary extra class or school activities. Nevertheless, for certain schools which take additional subjects such as vernacular schools and religious schools require some hours. Estimate, the maximal hours for students to be in schools for curriculum and co-curriculum activities do not exceed 40 hours a week. However, there are many parents who send their children for tuition.

7.0 Compulsory Education

7.1 Israel

Compulsory education applies to all children between the ages of five and sixteen, that is, from compulsory kindergarten through tenth grade, secondary school. Students have to attend school by this age. It is obliged by the Compulsory Education Law enacted in 1949. Higher education is not mandatory for the students as it is optional for them and it’s the autonomy of the authority to determine the students’ admission for universities or any other institutions of higher education.

7.2 Malaysia

While for Malaysia, the education is mandatory by law only in primary education which range from children by the age of seven until twelve years old before they proceed to secondary school. Hence, it is not a criminal offence to neglect the educational needs of a child after six years of Primary Education. However, higher education is not compulsory as there are many criteria especially academic performance in secondary school need to be taken into consideration for students to be able to further their study.

8.0 Free Education

8.1 Israel

Education is free, although not compulsory, for children above the age of sixteen, until the completion of high school. In addition, the education provides for free education for adolescents aged 16 and 17 as well as for 18 year olds who did not complete their schooling in grade 11 in accordance with the curriculum.

The state is responsible for provision of free primary education. While there are no tuition fees for state schools, education in Israel does not cost money. Each year, parents will be expected to purchase textbooks and supplies, pay for field trips and other school-sponsored activities. Enrichment classes, such as art or music, may also be charged to the parents. In short, free education in Israel costs money.

8.2 Malaysia

As for Malaysia, the education is recently made free for all students in order to allow students to gain full access to education. The policy of free education for the students is only implemented in schools specifically primary schools and secondary schools. The fee for examination, hostel and food for boarding school had been abolished and more financial supports allocated on education in order to fulfill the goal.

Thus, students can attend schools regardless of their family’s economic background and without any burden of payment. However, parents are still required to pay for certain school management. The policy does not apply in higher education as only loan and scholarship provided for students who are qualified to obtain them.

9.0 Assurance of Employment

9.1 Israel

Unemployment among higher education graduates is relatively low in comparison with the situation in many countries today. The students are trained in specific courses to ensure future employment in specific profession. Secondary schools offer specialized curricula which leads to a matriculation certificate or vocational diploma.

The students study in specific schools that provide them specific training and study on the basis of their specific future occupation. For example, technological schools train technicians and practical engineers while military preparatory schools train future career personnel and technicians.

Some schools such as comprehensive schools offer studies in a variety of vocations, ranging from bookkeeping to mechanics, electronics, hotel trades, graphic design and more. Others are required to study for a trade at an approved vocational school under apprenticeship programs range from hairstyling and cooking to mechanics and word processing.

Some universities have established organizations and cooperation with local industries for commercial utilization of their research which facilitate new research-based industries to break into the market.

9.2 Malaysia

Graduate unemployment in Malaysia is a very critical issue confronting the nation today. The unemployed rate for graduates in the country is 3.5% which consist of thousands of high education graduates remain jobless. Graduates do not fulfill the requirements for certain occupations although they are certified by the university with Bachelors. They do not have the skills, competence, and specific knowledge for specific field. Thus, they are not employed. It is claimed that local universities fail to prepare quality graduates as they provide redundant courses and take excessive students for certain fields such as business management and computer science.

10.0 Nationalism Instilment

10.1 Israel

In Israel education, nationalism really underlies the syllabus as it is one of the utmost priorities in Israel to cultivate truly Israelis who love the nation with Jewish identity and uphold the Hebrew language as the main language. Among the basis of state education are the values of Israel’s culture, love of the homeland, loyalty to the State and people of Israel, remembrance of the Holocaust and heroism and on building a society on the foundations of freedom, equality, tolerance, mutual assistance and love of mankind.

The curriculum has more than any curriculum the nationalism elements in order to instill a sense of Jewish national identity in Israeli youth. Each year a special topic of national importance is studied in depth as the aim is to enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of democratic values, the Hebrew language, immigration, Jerusalem, peace and industry.

Even in Arab and Druze schools, the curriculum is introduced and obliged to be taken by the students. Thus, Israel education succeeds in creating a nation that really loves the country and adopt the Israel value, customs and Hebrew language.

10.2 Malaysia

Malaysia’s education also emphasizes the cultivation of nationalism among students in order to achieve national unity and the patriotism of the nations. However, the visions of the education’s underlying basis seem to fail as the implementation is ineffective. In fact, racial polarization is transparent in schools due to the existence of vernacular schools whereby students seem to be divided to their own races because most Chinese and Tamil students attend their respective national-type schools and Malay students dominate national schools.

Although many measures have been taken to reduce this polarization, the students of different races barely interact to each other except when it comes to work but not for play. The teaching of second language; English and the use of Tamil and Chinese languages in vernacular schools hamper the development of Malay languages among the students. In fact, Malay language is in threat since other languages prevail among the nation. Thus, nationalism of the citizens appears to be weak.

10.3 Racial Polarization in Israel and Malaysia

The phenomenon of racial polarization is indeed embedded in schools in Israel. A perfect exemplar comes from the National unity in Israel-Arab education in Israel itself whereas it follows the same pattern as Jewish education, with students learning about Jewish history, heroes and the like. However, it is important to note that all of the education is in Arabic. Another epitome of racial polarization in Israel can be seen through Arab education in East Jerusalem and the West Bank where it follows the Jordanian curriculum, and students sit for Jordanian examinations. The textbook, however, has to be approved by Israeli authorities.

Notably, racial polarization is also prevalent in the Malaysian education system, with students grouping together in accordance to their race. This phenomenon is happening in a fast speed in Malaysia due to the existence of national-type schools, and that national schools had failed due to the prevalence of Muslim rites. Worries about students not interacting enough with those of other races are also becoming widespread, most probably because of the existence of vernacular schools. However, although many measures have been taken to reduce this polarization, the students of different races usually work together but play with their own kind.

11.0 International Exchange of Students and Lecturers

11.1 Israel

Israel education welcome immigrants students to study in the local education and the nation provides assistance for foreign students such as educational programs, training and special courses for them to develop skills and horizon to survive in the country. In fact, they are given financial assistances. There are many foreign students that come to Israel to further their study and they are entitled to gain access in the education.

An exchange of educators with various countries takes place within the framework of special educational agreements between Israel and certain countries, through cultural agreements between Israel and other states, and through cooperation between Israeli teacher unions and their counterparts abroad.

In-service courses for teachers from overseas are offered in Israel in different educational fields. Israel’s academic institutions have numerous agreements with institutions overseas, through which they conduct exchanges of lecturers and educational researchers. These exchange programs are designed to develop close, friendly relations, to increase people’s knowledge and broaden their horizons concerning Israeli society and culture, and to bring about mutual professional growth.

11.2 Malaysia

Malaysian government is gearing up the education towards the internationalization of the national education. Apart from sending the students to study abroad, the national education also attempts to attract foreign students and engage foreign lecturers to teach at public universities and one of the ways to fulfill this aim is to provide more monetary allotment to them.

Students who achieve excellent results in national exams are mostly given the opportunity to study in overseas for higher education under private organizations like PETRONAS and MARA scholarship or under the Ministry of Higher Education. Some students enroll in local institutions before they further their study in foreign universities under programmes called twinning programmes such as teacher-training course which involve the collaboration between local institutions and foreign institutions.

The programme is also being implemented on universities in collaboration with European Higher education. The goal of this programme is to enhance the quality of the students and to strengthen the operations of Malaysian public universities such as Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and University of Malaya which have become the research universities.

11.3 Lack of Teachers in Israel and Malaysia

Israel also faces a serious challenge for the future due to the lack of teachers despite having one of the world’s top quality education systems and institutions. Students’ performance is diminishing because of the declining government funding as well as poor pay for teachers. This can be seen in one survey held in 2002 where Israel stood in the 33rd place out of 41 nations despite of the fact that Israel is amongst the top-ranked nations in international rankings for science and mathematics performance back in the 1960s.

According to a survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, wages for teachers in Israel are the lowest in amongst industrialized nations. The low wages have engendered many teachers to leave the education field for better-paying jobs, causing a rising “Brain drain”. Such concerns led to the 2007 Israeli student strike, which has virtually stalled the high schools in the country for more than one month.

Although undeniably Malaysian education system faces the same predicament of having lack of teachers, it is even more complicated compared to Israel education system because one of the prominent issues that is apparently overtaking the Malaysian education system is the language issue. This issue is derived from the government’s decision to implement the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English from 2003 onwards. This idea devilishly aggravates the fact that there is already a little amount of teachers who can teach English, let alone teach Science and Mathematics in English language. The government also notices that a minimum number of Chinese students are attending government school and that most non-Chinese students are attending Chinese vernacular schools. Consequently, they come up with an alternative and announce that all national schools will begin teaching Chinese and Tamil as an elective course. This has result in a mixed-medium education.

12.0 Conclusion

Education in Israel and Malaysia both has its strength and weaknesses. Israel education is one of the best educations in the world due to its effectiveness in educating its students and producing quality citizens for the nation.

Israel manages to achieve its aims of creating strong nations since the inculcation of patriotism through education is effectively carried out in spite of the difference of races and religions of the people and the presence of immigrant students. In Malaysia, however, the national policy does not have desired effect on our nation especially when the use of other languages still prevail in public as a medium of communication although Malay language is the official language of the nation. In addition, the national integration has not been strongly built due to racial polarization in schools.

In spite of having immigrant students in the country, Israel has relatively low graduates unemployment. The students receive sufficient training and develop competence in their fields which facilitate their employment. In fact, some universities establish link with the industrial worlds. In Malaysia, graduates unemployment is a serious problem that the country is facing. Many believe that the students lack competence in the field that they take and there are some redundant courses. The education fails to produce competent citizens.

The assessment for students in Israel is effective because the exam is not exam-orientated. It is a thought-provoking and skills-building assessment that does not put students on pressure as it is designed to meet the students need and their appropriate preparations. The exam is not standardized as the schools have autonomy in determining the assessment. In Malaysia, there are many students who excel in the national exam. However, the standardized exam is exam-orientated as it only tests students through written examination which focuses more on the students’ ability in memorization of factual information and limited mastery of skills.

Malaysia still has lots to improve in their education in order to enhance the quality of the students. Israel is a nation which can be exemplified by Malaysia as it has a very effective and efficient education. Malaysia is able to enhance the quality of its education as the nation has a very strong commitment and determination towards the best for the country.


Zamrus & Mokelas (1995). Malaysia – Curriculum planning, development and reform.

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affair (2003). Higher Education – Spotlight on Israel. This info is available on the web:

Hillel (2005). Hillel’s Vision for Israel on Campus. This info is available on the web:

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affair (2006). Education: Primary and Secondary. This info is available on the web:

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affair (2006). Education: Preschool Education. This info is available on the web:

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affair (2007). Looking at Israel – Education. This info is available on the web:

Pollack, Ahinoam (2007). Projected Coexistence. This info is available on the web:

Brittanica (2008). Israel Education. This info is available on the web:

Sun, Michael (2008). Higher Education: Enhancing links with Europe. New Strait Times. 8th January 2008.


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