National Philosophy of Education


Since Malaysia is a developing nation, we do need to have a philosophy of education of our own. In 988, National Philosophy of Education (Falsafah Pendidikan Negara) was developed. It was formulated based on some of our policy documents and ideologies.


Falsafah Pendidikan Kebangsaan outlines all the terms, ideas and principles related to education in our country.

It combines the goals, policies and educational practices to form a consistent, clear and logical entity.


National Philosophy of Education


"Education in Malaysia is an on-going effort towards further developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner, so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonious, based on firm belief in God. Our efforts are focused towards creating Malaysian citizen who are knowledgeable and competent, who possess high moral standards, and who are responsible and capable of achieving a high level of personal well-being and able to contribute to the harmony and prosperity of the family, the society and the nation at large."


Formulation of the National Philosophy of Education


Sparked off in 1979, which concentrates on human development.  This came from an excerpt on “Economic development is very rapid in today’s world. The same goes for social developments as well... we are faced with different types of elements both from within and without... most of such elements are good, but they come from outside, and we are not very comfortable with them. Therefore, we face another challenge that is human development.”                                                         

 (Cabinet Report, 1979:226)


The Cabinet Committee recommended that human development be given due emphasis that “The human development must also from discipline aspect … important to be honest and dedicated to their work, can think and act wisely … guided by a respectful character  ... need to be aligned to the aims of human development.”


(The Cabinet Report, 1979:227)


And thus the combination and integration of Rukunegara, New Economic Policy and the National Education Policy in inevitable.


a) Rukunegara (National Principles)


Also known as de facto pledge of allegiance instituted by the royal proclamation on August 31, 1970. The government effort to promote racial unity, balance and stability amongst citizens of Malaysia in reaction to a serious racial riot known as May 13 incident in 1969. So it goes in English the five principles:


 We, the people of Malaysia, pledge our united efforts to attain these ends, guided by these principles:



i)                    Belief in God (Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan)

ii)                  Loyalty to King and Country (Kesetiaan kepada Raja dan Negara)

iii)                Upholding the Constitution (Keluhuran perlembagaan)

iv)                Rule of Law (Kedaulatan Undang-Undang)

v)                  Good behavior and morality (Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan)


b) New Economic Policy


Another effort Malaysian government to foster national unity by narrowing the divide in several sectors like economy, social, culture, housing and etc.


The various development plans under DEB using two-pronged approach:


i)                    eradicate poverty by creating more employment opportunities for all, irrespective of ethnicity

ii)                  to restructure the country’s economy thus eliminating the identification of ethnicity with economic function


c) National Education Policy


Education in Malaysia is monitored by the federal government Ministry of Education.[16] In July 2006, Higher Education Deputy Minister Datuk Ong Tee Keat stated that a review of the controversial Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) will be held among Malaysian MPs.[17] The ruling political alliance is composed of ethnically based parties and one of the concessions allowed by the controlling Malay party is to allow the Chinese and Indian parties to start colleges.


National Education Blueprint

In 2006, the National Education Blueprint 2006–10 was released. The Blueprint set a number of goals, such as establishing a National Pre-School Curriculum, setting up 100 new classes for students with special needs, increasing the percentage of single-session schools to 90% for primary schools and 70% for secondary schools, and decreasing class sizes from 31 to 30 students in primary schools and from 32 to 30 in secondary schools by the year 2010. The Blueprint also provided a number of statistics concerning weaknesses in education. According to the Blueprint, 10% of primary schools and 1.4% of secondary schools do not have a 24-hour electricity supply, 20% and 3.4% respectively do not have a public water supply, and 78% and 42% are over 30 years old and require refurbishing. It was also stated that 4.4% of primary students and 0.8% of secondary students had not mastered the 3Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic). The drop-out rate for secondary schools was given as 9.3% in urban areas and 16.7% in rural areas.[18]


The Blueprint also aimed to address the problem of racial polarization in schools. Under the Blueprint, schools will hold seminars on the Constitution, motivational camps to increase cultural awareness, food festivals to highlight different ethnic cooking styles, and essay competitions on different cultural traditions. Mandarin and Tamil language classes will be held in national schools, beginning with a pilot project in 220 schools in 2007.[19]


The Blueprint has been subject to some criticism. Academic Khoo Kay Kim has criticized the plan, saying:  We do not need this blueprint to produce excellent students. What we need is a revival of the old education system... meaning the education system we had before 1957. That was when we saw dedication from the teachers. The Malaysian education system then was second to none in Asia. We did not have sports schools but we produced citizens who were Asian class, if not world class.[20]



National Education Blueprint: Snapshot 


• The National Education Blueprint 2006-2010 TWO main thrusts are: 


1) To complete to complete unfinished tasks laid out in the Eighth Malaysia Plan (2000-2005) that sought to provide everyone access to education and create a level playing field for all students


2) To exploit fully schools' potential by having clusters of excellence so as to enable teachers and students to raise the standard of the system of learning in the country to be world class


• The blueprint has SIX core strategies to further strengthen the national education system:  


  1) build the nation and people—To give focus to the building of the nation and its people through education. The ministry aims to develop citizens from their early school stage to be global and patriotic apart from appreciating and upholding the nation's cultural heritage and arts

  2) Develop Human Capital—The ministry will give attention to value systems, disciplinary aspects, character, morals and resilience of students. This is to produce students who are competent in Science and Technology, innovative and creative and marketable.

  3) Strengthening National Schools—The ministry will strengthen national schools (primary and secondary) so that they become the schools of choice. In connection with this, national schools will be adequately equipped with facilities, including ICT facilities and enough trained teachers

  4) Narrow Education Gap—There shall be emphasis on narrowing education gaps between locations, school types, races, gender, socio-economic levels and students' capabilities. This is to ensure an across-the-board level playing field and check drop

out rates.

  5) Make Teaching a Prestigious Profession—This is to ensure the profession is respected and held in high regard in line with the trust and responsibility placed on it to build future generations

  6) Make Excellence a Culture in Educational Institutions— Efforts will be made to make excellence a culture in educational institutions by forming "school clusters of excellence" that will  be based on academic, co-curricular and sports achievements or

in specific fields




Analysis of National Philosophy of Education with Reference to the Branches of Philosophy



Branch of Philosophy

Characteristics of National Education Policy




Holistic and integrated

Meaning: universal body of knowledge which must be taught by teacher and learnt by pupils

Important that individual potentials and abilities develop in a holistic manner



On-going effort

Meaning: knowledge is ever changing

Important to be able to adapt to changing times and new developments e.g. ICT, k-economy;

Changes to knowledge encourages knowledge and skills development;

Emphasis on life-long learning



Firm belief and devotion to God

Meaning: element of existence and role of religion;

High moral standards and responsibilities

Meaning: role of moral values, ethics and personality

Role of vertical relationship;

Role of horizontal relationship;

Acceptance of God as Creator and Al-Mighty;

Importance of moral and values teaching;

Focus on human development;

Emphasis on personality development




Meaning: importance of valid and non-valid reasoning

Need for good systematic work procedure;

Fostering self-competence e.g. qualification and experience


Analysis of National Philosophy of Education with Reference to Its Elements



Elements of National Philosophy of Education



Education is an on-going effort

Be aware and believe in God

Thankful to God

Good character and holds moral values


Development of individual potentials

Matured and stable in emotion

Possess and nurture of love

Feeling of togetherness and unity (esprit de corp)


Holistic and integrated development of the individual

Talents, potentials and abilities do not develop separately, they are inter-related and coordinated so as not to compete with each other;

Enhancement and development should encompasses intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical


Balanced and harmonic being

Importance of intellectual knowledge, good personality (emotional), belief in God and good character (spiritual) and good health (physical)

Balance of the four aspects will produce an individual who can live harmony with himself and others

Resilience to face all life’s challenges and problems



Intellectual element

Possesses  the 3Rs’  skills;

Always strives to acquire and develop true knowledge;

Possess creative, critical and reflective thinking skills;

Willing to share knowledge with others and the environment


Spiritual element

Be aware of and believe in God

Thankful for God’s gift

Possess good character and upholds moral values


Emotional element

Matured and stable emotions

Possess and nurture love

A feeling of togetherness and unity


Physical element

Be aware of importance of good health

Develop technical, manipulative and social talent skills

Use physical fitness skills for the benefit of society



Belief in and obedience to God

Admit existence of God and accept Him as the Creator of mankind and the universe

Be aware that God determine nature’s laws and phenomena

Be aware that every individual is fully responsible for his deeds and actions

Practice all teachings of faiths professed



Knowledgeable Malaysian citizen

Love for knowledge

Strive to foster knowledge and reading culture

Broad and open minded



Competent Malaysian citizen

Possess expertise and competencies

Able to execute tasks  effectively and efficiently

Far-sighted and has initiative

Foster good dispositions



High moral standards Malaysian citizen

Be of good character

Uphold good moral and noble values as principles of life



Responsible Malaysian citizen


Aware that every task and responsibilities is a trust that has to be well executed

Carry out assigned tasks trustingly, sincerely and efficiently

Adhere to country’s laws

Strive towards development of self, family , society, race and country



Capable of achieving personal well-being Malaysian citizen

Level-headed and calm

Possess strong resilience to face life’s challenges

Possess physical and mental resilience

Capable of undergoing life’s challenges



Contribute to harmony and betterment of family. Society and nation at large Malaysian citizen

Foster family understanding

Conform to societal norm

Strive to foster national unity through tolerance, consideration, respect and etc

Strive for economic progress based on the country’s predetermined policies

Always maintain nation’s political stability and peace

Conform to country’s constitution and laws

Defend self-dignity, profession, religion, race and country

Make Rukunegara a practice daily living

Love for the country




Implications of National Philosophy of Education on Education System 


An official document which spells the country aspirations of education system besides outlining educational goals hope to be achieve

Duty of education fraternity to strive effortlessly in order to ensure all is met.

National Philosophy of Education is the guide and reference to carry duty


Education fraternity needs to play active role in realization of National Philosophy of Education

Need to be open-minded especially in using of ICT

Ready for new knowledge and skills in classroom teaching and learning ; willing and courageous enough to implement innovation


All educators be aware that their tasks and responsibilities not limited and confined to knowledge and skills delivery

Human capital given serious attention as it is hope young generation will grow up and develop into holistic individuals who are able to contribute to family, society and nation


The National Philosophy of Education served as an enlightenment to provide guidance and course direction to all efforts on education.


Various factors that play important roles in the determination of the contents, aims and aspirations are as follows. These include economic, individual, international, political, religious and social factors.


Briefly explained are as below:


i)                    Religious factor: Islam is the official religion; other religions are free to embrace. Religious factors can be clearly identified in the following expression... “to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonic, based on a firm belief in and devotion to God”.


ii)                  Social factor: The aim of achieving racial unity has become one of the main objectives of National Philosophy of Educations stated in the expression  ..."to produce Malaysian citizens who are capable of achieving a high level of personal well-being to contribute to the betterment of the nation, family and society."

The harmony and prosperity of the nation depend very much on the practice of cooperation among citizen, mutual respect among Malaysians, positive attitudes towards the practice and tolerance between races of Malaysia


iii)                Political factor: Racial unity was one of the basic considerations when planning up the National Philosophy of Education.


iv)                Economic factor: Malaysians who are trained with special skills in various fields can assist in the development of the national economy by upgrading their productivity. This was mentioned in line with Economic factor related to National Philosophy of Education. 

Such noble aims can only be achieved with efforts to produce individuals who are knowledgeable, competent, responsible and capable towards the betterment of the nation, family and society.


v)                  Individual factor: Potentials of individuals can be developed through the process of education. A well balanced and harmonious individual will always try to inculcate positive attitude, enjoy spiritual peacefulness and ever ready to face challenges in life. Individual's potentials cover all emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual aspects. Integrating all potential of individuals will produce a holistic development that will produce balanced and harmonious citizens.


vi)                International factor: Education in Malaysia is an on-going-effort ... which clearly reflects the concept of life-long education with respect to globalization of education. There are needs to which cooperation with other countries in seminar, course and program.


Roles of the National Philosophy of Education


i)                    assist to monitor the education policy so that all education activities and program would be implemented according to the spirit of National Philosophy of Education

ii)                  ensures there is no misunderstanding, ambiguity or dispute while implementing any education activities and program

iii)                provides necessary guidance for educators to carry out their educational duties according to the spirit of National Philosophy of Education

iv)                provides the policy and basic consideration for the planning of school curriculum, to design learning materials and determine strategies for teaching-learning activities

v)                  provides the policy and basic consideration to determine the objectives of National Education

vi)                serves as an enlightenment to provide guidance and direction to all efforts used to develop and improve the national education

vii)              serves as a reference to help educators to understand the national education system


Objectives of National Education


To produce knowledgeable, competent and responsible individuals to become useful Malaysian citizens. Mainly aimed for Malaysians to acquire the qualities:


-          belief in and devoted to God

-          be responsible to self, society, religion and nation

-          knowledgeable

-          possesses balanced and firmed personality

-          practice tolerance so as to foster unity among people of various races


Through the process of education, Malaysia will achieve the educational objectives in:


-          produce individuals who will be responsible and able to fulfill their duty as good and useful citizen

-          produce individuals who will be progressive, skillful and competent in carrying out duties perfectly, with the aim to contribute towards the advancement and development of the nation

-          produce individuals who will understand, accept and abide the democratic principles and laws of the Constitution

-          produce individuals who will be loyal to the King and love the nation

-          produce individual who understand and practice the Rukun Negara and possess tolerant attitude to foster unity among races

-          reduce the gap in various fields through provision of adequate education facilities to the less fortunate groups


Essential elements in the National Philosophy of Education


  1. To develop potentials of individuals
  2. Holistic and integrated potential
  3. Balanced and Harmonious individuals
  4. Intellectual aspect
  5. Spiritual and emotional aspect
  6. Physical aspect
  7. Belief in and devoted to God
  8. Educated Malaysian
  9. Competent Malaysian
  10. Responsible Malaysian
  11. Capable to achieve personal well-being
  12. Capable contributors
  13. Harmony and prosperity of society and nation


Implications of National Philosophy of Education


a)      On School Tradition and Culture

-          upgrading the existing facilities for pupils

-          reorganize school activities to foster development of school culture

-          changes in school learning environment would encourage pupils to develop intellectual potentials e.g. ICT

-          co-curriculum activities added to foster unity


b)      On Education Reform

-          changes to style of administration and leadership from autocratic to democratic style

-          routine, stereotype service changes to loving and emphatic type of service

-          changes from technically rationally to reflective rationally

-          teacher-oriented to change to student-centered

-          knowledge-base teaching to integrated teaching program


c)      On Roles of Teacher

-          to educate pupils to become useful citizens of the future generation

-          to educate pupils with skills of the generations

-          to act as agent of change and to bring along innovation 

next to Philosophy of Teacher  Education



Created on Nov 12, 2010 and edited last 04 February, 2011 by [email protected]