Finding an academic structure that would fit for a child with special needs can be challenging. For parents who can provide private or international options for their child, the decision can be more difficult. Ultimately, in this current society standing, parents understand the value of academic education that brings in improving the quality of life for their children. However, in order to find one that is suitable for your child, you will need to constantly explore your child’s strength and support them in their academic learning journey.

Education System

Malaysian education system typically ends with Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) when a child is at 17 years old. A student is streamed to either academic (science or art), vocational or religious (agama) with PT3 (Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga) assessment. Subsequently, students will progress to Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) before going to university for their degree of choice.

To qualify for SPM certification, student is expected to undertake six compulsory subjects, namely Bahasa Malaysia, English, Islamic Studies or Moral Studies, History, Mathematics and Science) and three to four elective subjects. Student must pass Bahasa Malaysia and History in order to earn the certification. Student can enrol to undertake SPM examination as a private candidate via Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri.

The other alternatives offered under Malaysian education system is the Sijil Vokasional Malaysia (vocational) or Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (skill) pathway.

Correspondingly, the British education system ends with General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) which is available in the United Kingdom. For countries out of United Kingdom, the option of International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is available. Subsequently, student will progress to A’Levels prior enrolling into university for their degree of choice.

For IGCSE, student is expected to undertake the core subjects, namely English, Mathematics and Science and an additional one or two subjects of choice (depending on school). Student can opt to register for IGCSE assessment as a private candidate.

The two popular options to undertake IGCSE assessment are Cambridge Assessment International Education and Pearson. Each certification offers numerous subjects for students to choose from and are internationally recognized.

Planning Backwards to Move Forward

Post-secondary education options vary in entry requirement for SPM or IGCSE. For foundation or matriculation programs, student is required to achieve a minimum of 5 Grade C while diploma only requires a minimum of 3 Grade C. For certification, student is required to have a minimum 1 Grade C to pursue the certification. For vocational or skill-based career, the requirements vary based on types of vocation or skill.

In terms of academic rigorousness, it will be from foundation / matriculation to diploma to certification / vocational / skill-based programs.

Whilst parents have various education options, ideally parents would have some directions or indication of where the strength and interest for their child. If your child is interested in drawing, here are some possible career options such as fashion designer, animator, graphic designer, textile designer, illustrator, artist or interior designer.

From the career option shortlisted, parents can explore various options for child to acquire the skill necessary for them to pursue. For a child who can manage more rigorous academic setting, foundation, matriculation or diploma would be good for consideration. For a child who prefers hands-on, vocational and skill-based programme would be a better choice.

Explore more career options here from


Planning for your child’s academic pathway can be daunting. You cannot go wrong by allowing your child to explore their interest. Your child may not be interested in exploring their career choices until they are around 15 or 16. However, it should not stop you from exposing your child to possibilities based on their interest.

Speak to us if you want to understand further on academic options available for your child via email or call +6018 2301 669.

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