Malaysia is increasingly committed to bringing environmental education to teachers and students across all levels of formal and informal education efforts. The 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) emphasizes sustainable development and environmental conservation, while the Ministry of Education has provided resources for integrating EE into the existing K-12 curriculum. Partnerships such as WWF-Malaysia and collaborations with UNESCO provide support for EE professional development opportunities, the development of EE resources, and also organize events for EE capacity building. Most recently in 2015, the National Education for Sustainable Development Workgroup (NESDW) was created to support EE across all levels of formal and nonformal educational initiatives.
Policy & Practice
Malaysia does not have specific legislation related to environmental education, however The Malaysia Development Plan has identified sustainability as a main focus. In the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020), one of the six strategic focus areas emphasizes “pursuing green growth for sustainability and resilience.” This focus area refers to growth that is resource-efficient, clean, and resilient. It is also a commitment to pursue sustainable development from the start, rather than the conventional and costly model of ‘grow first, clean up later’. A reinforced commitment to green growth will ensure that Malaysia’s precious environment and natural endowment are conserved for present and future generations.
EE in K-12 Education
Environmental education (EE) has been integrated within the existing K-12 primary and secondary curriculum, particularly in subjects such as science and geography. There are curriculum specifications, lesson plans, and syllabi to guide teachers incorporating environmental education into their teaching. Most public and private universities integrate EE within their academic programs, courses and co-curricular activities. For more information, please visit http://www.moe.gov.my/index.php/en/ and https://www.mohe.gov.my/en/.
The Ministry of Environment collaborates with UNESCO to promote Education for Sustainable Development within schools. However, there is still a need for more teacher training, dedicated or integrated environmental education (EE) programs, and an expanded EE budget. Further information about how EE is impacting teachers and students, through impact assessment and program evaluation, is needed for the country report that is sent to UNESCO.
NGOs and government agencies, in collaboration with the MOE and MOHE, conduct EE professional development programs, courses, and activities for teachers and teacher trainees. Specifically, WWF-Malaysia has introduced the Eco-Institutes Program to the 27 teacher training institutes in Malaysia. The Eco-Institutes Program, adapted from the FEE Eco-Schools Program, empowers teacher trainees to implement sustainable initiatives within the teacher training institutes, the surrounding communities, and especially in the schools. The environmental educators also collaborate with government institutions to develop environmental education resource materials for students.
The Eco-Schools program was introduced in 2012 by WWF-Malaysia and about 180 primary and secondary schools in Malaysia have subscribed to this program. The university level Eco-Campus program will be introduced in 2017, and is adapted from the FEE Eco-Campus program.
Other organizations in collaboration with the MOE and MOHE include:
EE in National Government
The National Education for Sustainable Development Workgroup (NESDW) was formalized in Malaysia in 2015. Members of the NESDW are made up of Education for Sustainable Development and environmental education experts from academia and conservation NGOs, with WWF Malaysia as the Secretariat. The mission of the National ESD Workgroup is to advocate, research, recommend, implement, support and empower the infusion of Education for Sustainable Development into all levels of formal and non-formal education. This is done through consultation, collaboration, evaluation, and alignment of work with that of other organizations and institutions at the national, regional, and local levels. The NESDW also engages and empowers stakeholders through research and development of best practices, educational materials, and trainings.
Other Malaysian government institutions that support environmental education include the Ministry of Education Malaysia, Rainforest Discovery Centre through Sabah State Forestry Department, Malaysia Teacher Training Institute (IPGM), and Natural Environmental Resources Board Sarawak. These institutions sit on the National Eco-Schools and National FEE Eco-Campus Committees as advisors for WWF-Malaysia programs and act as collaborators to organize capacity building events and development of environmental education resource materials.