In 1979, the Cabinet Committee that reviewed the secondary school curriculum; recommended that the lower secondary school curriculum as follows:
“…be an extension of the primary school curriculum, that is further consolidating the basic education and introducing a general education which also encompasses aspects of pre-vocational education.” (Para. 201.1 page 104)
For upper secondary school level it was recommended that the curriculum should:
“”…be in the nature of a general education suitable not only for pupils who are going to work but also for those who will continue their education”. (Para 206.1 page 107)
The Cabinet Committee also stressed the following:
- That the development of students character based on accepted moral values be of paramount importance. Thus values which hitherto have been confined to Islamic lessons have been introduced in all subjects;
- That Bahasa Malaysia be upgraded and reinforced as the national and official language of the country for communication, unity and for the acquisition of knowledge. Thus the use of standard Bahasa Malaysia is stressed in all subjects;
- In order to clarify and give direction to education in Malaysia, with a view to creating good citizens and good human beings, concerted efforts were undertaken to define the National Educational Policy (NEP) which was documented in 1987.
Based on the NEP, the recommendations of the Cabinet Committee Report and the projected needs of the country, the Ministry of Education revamped the curriculum at the secondary school level. The new curriculum is now known as the Integrated Curriculum for Secondary School (ICSS).
The ICSS was implemented in 1988 at Form 1 and Remove Class levels for four languages : Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese and Tamil). This was followed by full implementation of all subjects in 1989. In 1991, the first batch of ICSS students took their SRP examination and in 1993 they took their SPM examination.
Aims and Objectives.
The aim of secondary school education is to further develop the potential of the individual in a holistic, balanced and integrated manner encompassing the intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical aspects in order to create a balanced and harmonious human being with high moral standards.
To achieve this, education at the secondary level is geared toward enabling students :
- to increase the proficiency in language in order to communicate effectively;
- to upgrade their competence in and use of Bahasa Malaysia as the national and official language towards the acquisition of knowledge and the achievement of national unity;
- to develop and enhance their intellectual capacity with respect to rational , critical and creative thinking;
- to acquire knowledge and to develop a mastery of skills and to use them in daily life;
- to be able to develop skills to cope with new areas of knowledge and development in technology;
- to develop their abilities and faculties for the betterment of themselves and society;
- to develop the confidence and the resilience to face challenge in life;
- to understand, be aware of and appreciate the history as well as the socio-cultural milieu of the country;
- to be aware of the importance of one’s health and to strive to maintain it;
- to be sensitive to, concerned about and appreciative of the environment and its aesthetic value;
- to acquire, appreciate and practice accepted moral values;
- to have a love for knowledge and to constantly strive towards increasing and developing it, and
- to develop a deep sense of responsibility and to be prepared to serve the religion and nation.
Principles of the ICSS.
The ICSS was formulated on the following principles:
- Continuity of education between the primary and secondary schools: to ensure that basic skills are further developed and reinforced, and knowledge is further increased and broadened;
- General education for all students. Students undergo a basic education programme common to all whereby opportunity is given for acquisition of a holistic and balanced knowledge. This programme comprises core subjects that are compulsory for all.
- Subject Disciplines: Most of the subjects of the previous secondary school curriculum are retained; but the organization of the content and the emphases differ from those of the previous curriculum.
- Integration of the intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical needs of students. The subject disciplines too ensure that all these aspects develop in totality and are inter-related, bearing in mind the integrated person as the ultimate goal.
- Emphasis on values: The inculcation of accepted moral values is made possible by incorporating them in all the subjects of the ICSS. This is known as values across the curriculum. Values are specifically taught in Islamic Education, for Muslim students and Moral Education for non-Muslim students.
- Upgrading the use of Bahasa Malaysia: The use of Bahasa Malaysia is to be upgraded and reinforced in all subject disciplines except in languages such as English. This approach is known as Bahasa Malaysia across the curriculum.
- Lifelong learning. The secondary school curriculum nurtures the love for knowledge and provides opportunities for the acquisition of study skills, and for the inculcation of a positive attitude that will motivate students to constantly seek knowledge throughout life.
Emphases of the ICSS:
ICSS provide students with a total school experience which include the learning processes inside and outside the classroom. The foremost feature is the use of the integrated approach which entails the integration of knowledge; skills and values; the integration of theory and practice; and the integration of curriculum; and the school culture.
- Curriculum: The following elements are given due importance in order to ensure the success of the integrated approach: knowledge and skills; values; and language.
- Co-curriculum: Co-curriculum is an extension of the teaching-learning process in the classroom and is activity-based. Co-curricular activities are categorized under three areas: uniformed bodies; clubs or societies; and sports.
- School Culture: School culture refers to the total environment of the school which includes both the physical and the non-physical. An environment that is encouraging and supportive has positive effects to the teaching-learning process and the internalization of values. As such, efforts to mould the behaviour and personality of the students will be more effective.
Organization of Subjects:
- Knowledge, skills and noble values acquired at the primary level forms the basis in formulating the curriculum at the secondary school level. These are nurtured, and further developed and reinforced at the secondary school level.
- The curriculum at the secondary school level also provides opportunities for them to develop their talents and interests.
- At the lower secondary level, subjects are categorized under core subjects and additional subjects. The core subjects are Bahasa Malaysia, English Language, Islamic Education, Moral Education, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Living Skills, Physical and Health Education, Art Education,and Living skills. Beside the core subjects, students can also offer additional subjects such as Chinese and Tamil.
- A special programme for pupils from the National Type Primary Schools – Remove Class – has been adapted to ensure continuity with ICPS as well as prepare students for the ICSS. List of subjects in Remove Class are : Bahasa Malaysia, English Language, Chinese Language, Tamil Language, Practical Use of Bahasa Malaysia, Physical Education and Art Education.
- At the upper secondary , besides the availability of core and additional subjects is the elective subjects. Core subjects taught at the lower secondary level continue to be taught at the upper secondary level with the exception of Geography, Art Education, and Living Skills. Chinese and Tamil languages are retained as additional subjects. The electives are listed under three groups: Humanities; Vocational and Technology; and Science. Subjects under the Humanities are: Malay Literature, Literature in English, Geography, Art Education. Subjects under Vocational and Technology : Principles of Account, Basic Economics, Commerce, Agricultural Science, Home Economics, Additional Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering Studies, Civil Engineering studies, Electrical and Electronic Engineering Studies, Engineering Drawing; Engineering Technology. Subjects under Science include: Additional Science, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
The Implementation and Management of the ICSS.
- ICSS has been implemented in stages since 1988 beginning with four languages programmes;
- Full implementation of the ICSS in Form 1 and Remove Class was affected in 1989;
- 1993 – Implementation of ICSS involved all forms from Form 1 and Remove Class to From V;
- The responsibility of implementing the ICSS rests on teachers in the classroom as well as on officers managing the curriculum at the Ministry, state, division/district and school levels. In general; all parties involved in implementing the ICSS need to:
- understand the National Education Policy;
- understand the ICSS programme and the concept on integration;
- understand the emphases of specific subjects;
- upgrade the mastery of Bahasa Malaysia and its use in the teaching – learning process;
- have a love for knowledge and to pursue this knowledge throughout life.
- School principal, as manager and leader of the curriculum in schools, play a key role. They need to guide teachers in new teaching methods to ensure the success of the ICSS;
- In the process of teaching and learning, the teacher should always ensure that values are infused in all the subjects. This is part of the total effort toward making students internalize and practice values;
- Every teacher is required to use teaching – learning methods and techniques which will stimulate, encourage, and develop the thinking abilities of students;
- Teachers need to understand and internalize the aspirations of the NEP as well as the objectives of education. Teachers need to fulfill the roles of counselor, facilitator, educator, and character-builder;
- The role of parents and of society is also important. The success of the ICSS depends on their support because parents and society can help schools in the education and character building of students;
- Continuous monitoring needs to be carried out to ensure that all teachers fully understood the changes that need to be affected in the implementation of the ICSS and are able to translate them into the teaching-learning process. The aims of the monitoring exercises are to assess the level of comprehension, the extent of the implementation and the effectiveness of the ICSS; both inside and outside the classroom. Based on the feedback, further measures to improve and facilitate the implementation of the ICSS can be undertaken.
Evaluation of the performance and achievement of students is part of the teaching and learning in the classroom. In the ICSS, continuous evaluation in the classroom is carried out with the following aims:
- to ascertain students’ level of mastery with respect to skills and specific knowledge;
- to assess the progress of students with regard to the internalization and practice of values and attitudes; and
- to assist teachers in ensuring their teaching is more effective.
The evaluation that is carried out in the classroom falls under three categories:
- Monitoring whilst teaching. Whilst teaching, teachers assess students’ mastery of the skills taught as well as observe the practice of values among the students. This evaluation in usually done informally and teachers need not record the findings;
- Monitoring Progress Assessment of teaching and learning process involves evaluation in the form of test or project work. Normally, this assessment is is done after specific topics or a number of skills in a learning unit have been taught. Teachers need to know their students’ mastery with regard to the skills or knowledge acquired. In assessing the students formally or informally, teachers record their progress.
- Monitoring Achievement. Evaluation of students achievement is carried out at the end of a term, at mid-term or at he end of the year. Evaluation of this kind is carried out formally in order to assess students knowledge and understanding of what has been taught. Tests are conducted in various forms such as paper-pencil tests and the results of these tests are recorded as marks, grades or statements.and used for reporting purposes.
To continuously improve the quality of education in Malaysia, the Ministry adopted the following approaches, strategies and reforms in education:
- In 2002, the English language was made as the medium of instruction for Mathematics, Science and Information Communication / Technical subjects which is expected to enable students to access information in the internet, read articles and research papers and other materials publish in English;
- The School-based Assessment of Oral Skills focused on Bahasa Malaysia and English Language is offered to students in Form I to III. It entails that students be assessed inside or outside the classroom situation. The Oral Test of Speaking and Listening Skills is offered to students in Form 4 and 5.
- Another assessment on bilingual proficiency was conducted starting 2004 for Mathematics and Science. By 2008, all assessment instruments for UPSR, SRP and SPM public examination for Mathematics, Science, Technical and Technology subjects was supposed to be in English for all national primary and secondary schools; but till to-date the examination is still conducted in bilingual (Bahasa Malaysia and English).
- Certification for Vocational subjects in Academic schools or VSAS was also introduced. It comprises parts on competency-based and modular certification.
- For 2010 onwards, all students will be able to take a maximum of only 10 subjects in the SPM examination. However, students in the joint science and religious stream will be allowed to take 11 subjects. In 2011, the secondary school curriculum will be streamlined and all students will be able to take a maximum of 10 subjects only (in their SPM). Y.A.B. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the Education Minister said the rational behind the decision was to ensure students had more time for extra-curricular activities.
- Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Wee Ka Siong said the Examination Board will introduce a modular system to replace the existing terminal system for the Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) examination by 2011. He said that the modular system system which is based on three semesters is similar to that in the universities where students need only to concentrate on the modules for a particular semester. Dr. Wee also mentioned that 20 to 30 percent of the marks would be based on coursework or projects and the other assignments, as well as practical work.
The ICSS is formulated with the NEP as its base and is aimed at creating a balanced, harmonious and a morally sound individual. To ensure the success of the ICSS, a variety of suitable educational activities have been planned and carried out in schools. Besides teaching-learning and co-curricular activities, the Ministry of Education also gives due importance to activities that contribute to the formation of a positive school culture. It is envisaged that these activities are to be carried out in an integrated manner.
Read more @:
Integrated Secondary School Curriculum, Curriculum Development Centre, Ministry of Education, Kuala Lumpur.
Karen Chapman, The Star Online, 19 June 2009.