The three main types of primary schools in Malaysia are Public Primary Schools, Private Primary Schools and International Schools (Primary/ Elementary). Education in Public Primary Schools and Private Primary School begins at age 7 and lasts for 6 years, referred to as Standard 1 to 6.
There are two categories of public primary schools in Malaysia, namely the Malay-medium National Schools [Sekolah Kebangsaan, SK] and the non-Malay-medium National-type Schools (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan, SJK).National-type Schools, also known as "vernacular schools" are further divided into Chinese National-type Schools [Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Cina), SJK (C)] and Tamil National-type Schools [Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Tamil), SJK (T)].
SJK(C) uses Mandarin and simplified Chinese writing as the main medium of teaching. The main language medium of teaching for SJK (T) is Tamil. Malay and English are compulsory subjects in all schools. All schools use the same syllabus for non-language subjects regardless of the medium of instruction. The teaching of the Chinese language is compulsory in SJK(C), and Tamil language is compulsory in SJK (T).
Additionally, a National School must provide the teaching of Chinese or Tamil language, as well as indigenous languages wherever practical, if the parents of at least 15 pupils in the school request that the particular language to be taught.
Private primary schools in Malaysia offer primary schooling from Standard 1 to Standard 6, follow the Primary School National Curriculum (KBSR), and prepare students for the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination.Besides core subjects of the National Curriculum, some private primary schools offer additional subjects to enhance the student’s learning process.
International Schools (Primary/ Elementary) teach an international curriculum using English as a medium of instruction. The main types of international curriculum approved by the Ministry of Education are the British curriculum, the Australian curriculum, the American curriculum and the Canadian curriculum.
Although these schools mainly cater for the needs of the international community, such as the children of the staff of foreign embassies, foreign businesses and international organisations, admissions are open to Malaysian students.