In 2010 Yayasan AMIR and the Ministry of Education (MOE) embarked on the Trust School Programme, which was billed as a pioneering public-private partnership in education for Malaysia. This involved both organisations working together to improve the quality of learning and teaching in selected government schools. The early success of the programme resulted in a declaration by MOE, in the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013 – 2025, that 500 Trust Schools would be created by 2025.
In this policy paper we argue that whilst the Trust Schools initiative has shown significant success, it represents a very weak form of public-private partnership, especially when compared to the models currently being deployed in many other education systems. In fact, in its early iteration it has been more of a public-public partnership – with much of the funding for the programme coming from Government Linked Companies (GLCs). We also argue that the current model lacks scalability as it relies on business community donations to fund Yayasan AMIR’s intervention programme. This is effectively a form of voluntary taxation and we suspect that it will prove difficult to find sufficient sponsors to finance the transformation of 500 schools.
Instead we suggest that MOE should consider strong forms of public-private partnership that involve expert education management organisations being funded on a cost-neutral basis to turnaround Malaysia’s lowest performing schools. These approaches are being used to great effect in England, US, Canada and are also currently being piloted in New Zealand.