Learn About Child Care In Malaysia, Then And Now


So what’s the current child care environment like in Malaysia? Many people may have their own perceptions and opinions, but how many actually have hard figures and facts? Well, the following article* is a highly-detailed and informative piece on child care in Malaysia.

Child Care In Malaysia – Then And Now

It’s 11 pages long, so for those who’d just like the gist of it, there’s a summary over here.

*The article is entitled “Child Care In Malaysia: Then And Now”, and is taken from the International Journal Of Child Care And Education Policy Volume 2 Issue 2, 14 Jan 2009, published by the Korea Institute Of Child Care And Education. The author is Heng Keng Chiam, the Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, as well as the former professor of Social Psychology in Education, University of Malaya.

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42 responses to this post.

  1. I see that Carolyn Choo is on your blog… woo wwo… was my lecturer those many years ago.!


    • Haha, I can see that she’s very active, and a lot of people in the industry know her personally.

      She’s yet to leave a comment here though 🙂 Maybe too busy with the even this Saturday.


  2. Posted by salfcl on 23 July, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    The major problem is M’sia is the execution and maintaining standards. In the context of child care, there are lofty goals set up by the government, the implementation is likely to be poor and thus missing the mark. Even if the initial implementation is successful, the standard slips over time. Sadly, I have seen this spiral of mediocrity repeat itself in M’sian business and government. How can one establish a high quality M’sian childcare centre?


  3. Hi Salfcl,

    What are these lofty goals set up by the government? It’s hard to focus on any, with the recent decision to revert to BM for Mathematics and English blaring loudly in everyone’s minds.

    Nevertheless, just because the government is shuffling its feet doesn’t mean that people should settle for mediocrity.

    Child care providers should aim higher, rather than just meeting the government’s minimum standards. Meanwhile, more and more parents are even considering homeschooling.

    High quality Malaysian child care will be a reality one day, but getting there is going to take everybody’s involvement.


    • Posted by salfcl on 24 July, 2009 at 2:50 pm

      The government wants to implement a nation-wide ECE program. How and when are the unanswered questions. I don’t see that happening and I expect the standard to be low.

      There is a market for high quality EC program. The challenges I see are – finding and retaining the good EC teachers and maintaining the high standards over time.


      • Well, like you said, there’s a vast difference between wanting to do something and actually doing it. I agree with you that even if there IS any implementation, it will be slow and will take time to get up to standard.

        However, this type of situation isn’t just limited to Malaysia. For example, in England, I’m participating in a program called the Early Years Professional Status (EYPS). It’s basically a child care qualification for those already holding a degree. The program is pretty new, having been around for only a few years, and some problems were highlighted over a year ago. Just last week they had a grand national conference reviewing the progress of the program. What problems did they talk about? Exact same issues as the year before. What’s going to be done, and more importantly when? God knows.


      • I’ve often been given the impression that there is indeed a vast market for EC programs in Malaysia, be they of high or low caliber. Unfortunately, as you’ve pointed out, the number of well-paid good EC teachers is also a problem, and quality staff is vital to maintaining high standards.

        So a major issue would be, how to meet the demand for high quality EC programs? I’d love to run a state-of-the-art child care centre full of happy, well-trained and well-paid staff, but will the market be willing to bear the costs?

        I think lower income groups just want a safe environment for their children while they’re busy at work, whereas higher income groups would be more interested in spending their own precious time with their children rather than being overly particular on child care centres.


  4. Great site. There’s so many kinds of childcare centres around…it’s really confusing to me actually. will continue to follow your blog to find out more. Thanks for sharing.


    • Thanks for dropping by and saying hello Mumzzy!

      Well, if you like, I could write a post about the kinds of childcare centres. 🙂 What exactly is it you’d like to know?

      Your child is about the same age as Jenny’s son Ben right? 🙂 Are you planning on sending your child to childcare so early?


      • Hi Mark,

        Yes 🙂 My daughter is a few days older than Jenny’s. I’m very interested to know whats the differences between childcare centers e.g. montesorri, maths monkey, smart reader….what are the differences. International childcare centers e.g. St Chris, what makes them different , their rates are exceptionally so high. I’m not planning to send my daughter so early yet…hahaa..she’s barely able to sit.



      • Mark, you should come up with a post on the differences of all these childcare methods like what Mumzzy mentioned.

        I also want to know more on this lah.. 🙂


  5. OK, noted, my valued readers! 🙂 I’ll take a look at comparing/explaining the various childcare services available in Malaysia.

    And Mumzzy, kids can start going to childcare from as early as 6 months! And the stuff they try and teach them…well, lets say some might find it ambitious.

    If you’ve heard of Schishida (not sure how you spell it :)), they try and train young babies to do things like have photographic memory, do simple maths, and apparently even have ESP!

    Actually, I believe kids should start going to childcare at a very early age. Studies show that most of a child’s growth and development would have already set in by the time they’re 5 years old.


    • But then hor, if you get your kids to start learning all sorts of things so fast (and at so young age) wouldn’t that be like keeping them from having a memorable childhood?

      I always remembered my childhood days – playing with the neighbour kids, waiting for school holidays so that I can follow my mum back to her hometown and I’ll be cycling all over the village, going knee-deep into the river to catch fish and tadpoles (and once almost ran into a cow grazing nearby)


      • There’s a lot of debate on whether early years childcare involves piling up too many expectations on young children. That’s where Malaysia may actually have an advantage compared to Western countries.

        In Western countries, parents are required to meet certain standards in educating their children, as required by law. In Malaysia, you can do it as you see fit. For example, if you think childcare 5 days a week is too much, you can settle for 3 days a week, or 1 day week, or none at all if you prefer.


  6. Ya lo…i completely agree with Jenny. I worry that i will completely stress out my child…which is the last thing i want to do. To me, i don’t want to have high expectations of my child…e.g. getting number 1 in class. I hear scary stories of my colleagues , on their child having to sit for exams in kindergarten…shocker for me. I would never want that for my child.

    As long as she’s well mannered, happy and healthy child, i’m happy enough 🙂


    • ya true true… i mean, i had a great childhood, parents never pressured me at all, they never even lay a single hand on me (not that i misbehave) and they don’t believe in physical/pyschological punishment (not necessary at all since no pressure to excel or top in anything) but somehow i pass my UPSR, PMR with all As, SPM abit drop – aggregat 17, but ok what…

      i also hope as long as Ben is healthy and well-mannered, I achieve my KPI lorrr…. 😀


      • Haha, I don’t think it’s fair for you to say you didn’t misbehave! How could you remember what you did when you were 2?

        Hm, kids who have parents at home who can focus on them constantly are lucky, but I’d also say they wouldn’t be the norm. Nowadays both parents would be busy with work, so they have little choice but to look for a childcare/nanny.

        Unfortunately, even when they send their kids to childcare, there demands will be the same as yours Jenny, i.e. they just want their child to be healthy. happy and well-mannered.

        And those 3 criteria will easily be claimed by the childcare/nanny, whether it’s true or not. I say claimed, because let’s face it, the caretaker is more likely to say “Yes, your child’s been great today, see you tomorrow” rather than list out all the mishaps, crying incidents and tantrums of the day.


    • Also, being involved in childcare at an early age doesn’t necessarily mean a child is deprived of a happy childhood. Early years childcare isn’t like conventional schooling, where kids attend school and read from books day in and day out. At a younger age, there’s a lot of focus (perhaps too much) on “learning through play”.

      And most importantly, I honestly feel a lot of kids actually enjoy it. Sure, most children may feel uncomfortable when they first join. But once they grow accustomed to it, they stand to gain a lot through growth and development, and they have a lot of fun, while making lots of friends too. I’ve often seen kids who’re even reluctant to go home. (Maybe they just like playing with me, hehe, who knows). Going into childcare now and then will also help prevent a big culture shock for when the child has to enter the schooling system.

      Of course, it’s also case dependent as well, as every child is unique. If there’s a committed mother caring for the child full time at home, sure, homeschooling or even just spending time with his mother may be a better option. But what if there are some days when there’s noone suitable available, or just a maid at home with a questionable background?


      • Eh… if going to childcare center early and needing to take exams like what Mumzzy mentioned… then I feel will deprive the kids of their childhood lor… if we send our child to the childcare center and they learn to mix around (social skills) ok la… but if they need to learn Maths and ESP and all – wah… too much laaa…


  7. I’ve not heard of exams for early years yet 🙂 Is it for kindergarten Mumzzy? Yea, I’m not a big fan of exams either, but on a lighter note, I suppose since it’s kindergarten, ie 1 year before starting real schooling, it’ll help them get accustomed to Malayian lifestyle. 🙂

    Haha, the Maths and ESP one it’s kinda specialised method, from Japan. I think it even teaches photographic memory (I didn’t know you could teach that…I’d like to learn). I talked to someone who sent her kids to those classes, she says she’s only so so with the content of the classes, but she really appreciates the time to bond with her kids, and they enjoy it as well.

    We gave one of her sons a mind reading test, hehe. Guess what number I’m thinking of, 1 to 10! He got it after 3 tries, then didn’t wanna play anymore. 🙂


    • Posted by p a t t on 13 August, 2009 at 2:13 am

      at the prices those classes go for – its a lot to pay for bonding when you can always go swimming 🙂


  8. As for the social aspect of childcare, unless you have more than one child at home, you probably won’t be able to witness some beautiful moments of children.

    I find it so heart warming to see kids who’re not even 2 years old be nice to each other. Like if one is upset, a kind child will look for a soft toy or pat the upset one on the back to comfort him.

    And normally when one child wants something the other has, initially they’ll just yell “MINE!!!” and turn away, but they soon learn to share by splitting up what they have, or even looking around the room for a similar item to share.


    • Posted by p a t t on 13 August, 2009 at 2:12 am

      that’s a realyl godo habit – how do you inculcate that? surely not all kids react like that

      they fight!


      • Don’t think of it as fighting, think of it as interacting with a strong sense of self. 🙂

        Most kids will learn how to interact with others from watching adults in their lives. This means it’s essential to have good role models around, not just parents but childcare practitioners as well.


    • Talking about sharing stuff… if your child is still young and you send them to daycare centres, won’t they be like sharing/licking other kids’ saliva as well – like those toys they playing? errrrrr… and that’s how easy they got HFM disease rite?


      • Jenny, you make daycare centres sound like they throw kids into a large swimming pool of saliva to just lick and share each other’s saliva. 🙂

        If you look at it from that view, yes, they are more likely to pick up diseases. As we agreed earlier, some childcare centres can be a breeding ground for germs, affecting not just children but the staff as well.

        Therefore the responsibility falls to adults again. Parents have to be considerate and keep their kids at home when they suspect an illness. You’d be surprised how many don’t do this. Meanwhile, childcare practitioners have to ensure the place is kept as clean as possible.

        We can’t always be too overprotective though; it’s not like we can just lock ourselves up for a year until H1N1 disappears.


  9. Not just daycare centers.. the church I go to, they have a room special for parents with babies and toddlers, also nursing and changing room. I always wonder whether they got wipe the toys or whether the mattresses or sarongs there are washed regularly or not. Yeah, adults should be responsible and be attentive towards their children, must be alert if got any illness/symptoms of it.

    On another note, why this wordpress so lau=yah, no more option for me to reply your post, end up I need to create a new post… mafan, mafan… u should really consider Blogspot 😛


  10. Posted by chinita on 17 December, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    i work as part time in kindergarten, mad monkey, kumon b4..

    the differences i see, is the hour the child spent at the centre, fees, and the child’s development .

    make it easier. one acts as a school, one acts as a tuition centre, and a international school but all start in the toddlers education.

    for kumon, mad monkey and smart reader the hour your child spend is about an hour. is much more on child development but with specification part.
    eg mad monkey are more focus on math, and pingu english and smart reader are on language development.

    as for montesori it acts as kindergarten but using different pedagodgy. they also have like headstart, reggio emilia and etc programmes. the hour you send your child is like half day and full day. the development for your child are general which is overall.

    as for the international childcare centre, is also like what we see as international schools therefore, what they deliver is more towards like overseas studies.

    ps: correct me if im wrong, im still a student doing degree in this course


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