Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education


Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Carmel Maloney


Pre-school education in Malaysia has expanded significantly over the past twenty years and is currently the focus of increased attention within the Ministry of Education. This study explores and describes the perceptions of Malaysian parents concerning pre-school education. Guided by Bronfenbrenner's theory of the ecology of human development, the study examines the potential influence of macrosystem elements on the parents' perceptions, as well as the likely impact of such perceptions upon the home- pre-school mesosystem. The research was conducted with a group of 21 parents of children in their final year of preschool education. They were selected from four private pre-schools, employing a range of methodologies, located within a few kilometres of one another in Kuala Lumpur. The parents participated in guided interviews In order to record their perceptions regarding the value or function of pre-school education; the importance of a range of pre-school practices; and the role and nature of the pre-school caregiver. The interview responses underwent computer assisted analysis using the NUD*IST qualitative data analysis software. Findings indicate that Malaysian parents hold both idealised and actualised perceptions of pre-school education. The former relate to the parents' image of childhood and the type of education they would like their child to receive in an ideal world, whilst the later relate to the type of education parents feel their child needs in order to meet the needs of Malaysian society. The study concludes by suggesting that parents' knowledge and perceptions of pre-school education are socially constructed and should be judged for their socio-cultural appropriateness rather than their developmental appropriateness alone. Results suggest that efforts should be directed towards assisting parents to reduce the gap between their idealised and actualised perceptions by establishing closer links between the home and pre-school mesosytems.

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