Malaysia's Education Policies and the Law of Unintended Consequences (doi: 10.14425/jice.2016.5.2.73)

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Kee-Cheok Cheong
Christopher Hill
Yin-Ching Leong


Since gaining independence in 1957, the Federation of Malaya and now Malaysia has implemented education policies to broaden access, to unify an ethnically diverse population through a common curriculum and language, to enable the disadvantaged to catch up through affirmative action, and to build human capital as the country seeks to become an advanced country in the face of globalization. While some policies, such as enhancing access have achieved their objectives, others, such as unification and development of a national identity, have not. No less important are the unintended consequences of these policies. While some, like the expansion of private higher education and transnational higher education, have been a boon to Malaysian education, others, such as ethnic polarization in education, have been damaging. Some of these consequences, while unintended, have not been unexpected.


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