Situated in the South China Sea, Malaysia, a peninsula of approximately 30 million people, shares land borders with Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand. Considered an upper middle-income country, Malaysia, averaged real GDP growth of almost six per cent per annum between 2000-2013. The country consists of 13 states and three federal territories. In 2011, roughly 73 per cent of Malaysia’s population is found in urban centres, especially in Georgetown, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuantan and Kuching. The country has a multi-ethnic demographic composition, consisting of ethnic Malays, Chinese, Indians and other groups. Additionally, Malaysia is host to numerous migrant and refugee communities. Endowed with a youthful population, about 26 per cent of the country’s people are under the age of 14.

source(s): UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/14

Main Barriers to Education

  • Refugee Status
  • Poverty
  • Shortage of Trained Teachers

Interventions to Barriers:

  • Transportation for Refugee Children
  • Compensation for Refugee Teachers
  • Modular Teacher Training

Since acceding to independence from Great Britain in 1959, the Government of Malaysia (GOM) has prioritised economic transformation via various national development plans. Within this framework, the Government has explicitly enumerated the centrality of the provision of primary education through the National Development Master Plan 2001-2010, as well as the Education Blueprint, which states that “every child in Malaysia deserves equal access to education.” Furthermore since 2012, the GOM has adopted a policy of free education to increase access. 

To the Government’s credit, considerable progress has been made with regard to access to primary education. In that vein, efforts to increase quality and expand access to education in recent years have been concentrated on reaching marginalised populations and children with special needs. In particular, education sector authorities tend to focus on economically disadvantaged children in rural and urban areas, indigenous children and undocumented and/or refugee children.

In the face of these challenges, EAC has partnered with UNESCO and UNHCR to increase education access to some of Malaysia’s most vulnerable OOSC. Through separate initiatives, UNESCO will focus on policy advocacy and research, while UNHCR concentrates on reaching children in refugee communities. Specific project interventions include: building government and NGO capacity; policy and systems analysis; provision vision of transportation for refugee children, teaching and learning materials, and seed funding for new schools and maintenance grants; capacity building for School Management Committees (SMCs); and strengthening education monitoring and data management systems.

Geographic Location: Southeastern Asia

Languages: Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Foochow, Hainan, Hakka, Hokken, Mandarin), Malayalam, Panjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Thai


Year added: 


Educate A Child Partnership

Successfully Completed Project

Educate A Child (EAC) has partnered with UNHCR to bring quality primary education to refugee children in 12 priority countries.
Enabling, Encouraging & Excelling

Enabling, Encouraging & Excelling

As the global refugee protection agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is responsible for ensuring that refugee children have access to quality education in their countries of asylum. There are over 2.7 million refugee children out of school in 12 targeted project countries.

Strengthening Education System for Out of School Children

Successfully Completed Project

The Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and East Timor continue to face challenges in reaching and educating out of school children (OOSC). The EAC-UNESCO Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Education Strengthening Education Systems for Out of School Children project seeks to enrol and retain 50,000 out of school children in quality primary education programs in the sub-region.



EAC partnered with UNESCO to help realise Sustainable Development Goal 4 (ensure inclusive and quality education for all), as well as the former Millennium Development Goal 2 (achieve universal primary education). To that end, the two have joined in partnership to implement education interventions in 11 countries to reach OOSC in Asia and the Middle East.


EAC partnership with UNHCR will ensure quality education for over 448,000 refugee children. UNHCR and EAC’s shared commitment to children in the most extreme circumstances help to ensure that all children in crisis situations have the opportunity to gain from the benefits of basic education.