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The role of the arts in establishing a developed or civilised society and nation has been recognised and acknowledged by the country. The arts is a manifestation of a country’s civilisation. Theatre, dance, music, fine arts, cinematography, etc. are fundamental principles that are practised in the arts and they complement the quality of life. All developed countries emphasise the importance of practice and promotion of the arts among their people, through either formal training or other incentives. Achievements, quality and facilitation for arts activities are often associated with living standards and also serve as an international yardstick in determining a country’s level of development. At present, the role of the arts has been accepted as one of the elements of national development capable of generating a better quality of life. Through education-based arts training, a society is able to produce prudent and civilised human capital. This has been realised by various parties, and through the government machinery, actions have already been taken in their respective jurisdictions.

The implementation of quality arts programmes cannot be accomplished by simply having the programmes run on their own in schools. Development of the arts, as with other development programmes, needs to be guided, nurtured and planned in an orderly manner through instructional programmes, guidance and training. Attaining outstanding levels of achievement in the arts at an international arena is a responsibility that should be borne with full commitment by all parties concerned.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has mobilised resources and conceived plans consistent with the National Education Policy and the National Cultural Policy, as well as the Ninth Malaysia Plan, Chapter 23: “Enriching Culture, Arts and Heritage”, to create a Malaysian society that is well-balanced, outstanding and appreciative of the arts. Various programmes that include guidance, nurturing and training have been carried out in schools in line with developments in multi-skill oriented education and intelligence, so that today’s generation will be better equipped to face the realities of the working world which are highly competitive and challenging.

The noble aspiration of the MOE to uphold arts education in school is in line with the mission and vision of the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage in producing a Malaysian society that is rich in cultural heritage and arts of a distinct identity.

The MOE has conducted arts activities in programmes such as the following:

  1. Arts in Teaching and Learning
  2. Arts in the Co-curriculum
  3. Training of Teachers
  4. Training of School Executive Coaches
  5. Arts Appreciation Programme
  6. Arts Internationalisation Programme

Nevertheless, the MOE is of the view that these efforts have yet to achieve the goals and niche in leading and helping students to enhance and strengthen the cultural identity of the Malaysian nation, as our country’s education system needs to be comprehensive rather than focused solely on academic learning. In fact, to achieve developed nation status, the education system must produce a society that is unique to our own mould, culture and language.

In realising this fact, it is therefore timely that the MOE has instituted the Malaysian arts school to provide opportunities and space for young Malaysians to work and establish a career in the arts such as music, dance, theatre or visual arts.


It is a formal single-session educational institution equipped with facilities to cultivate and nurture the potential and talent of students and to prepare them for active and creative participation in artistic and cultural activities.


Dedicated to the charge of developing the potential of individuals in a balanced and integrated manner through a planned and systematic arts education programme. The purpose is to produce individuals who are responsible and committed in promoting and contributing to the Malaysian culture and identity through their artistic creativity and talents.



  • To be a centre of excellence in arts and cultural education to groom world-class artists and creative professionals


  1. To nurture and develop the artistic potential among students
  2. To promote the active participation of students in arts activities
  3. To establish co-operation with various arts institutions and practitioners


  • To enable students to realise both their artistic and academic potential.
  • To produce students who are knowledgeable and competent in the arts.
  • To be a world renown centre of excellence in arts education.
  • To develop arts and cultural practitioners with moral integrity.
  • To develop artistic individuals to be leaders in the field, and to be patrons and supporters of the arts.


The facilities at the arts school are based on the concept of a fully residential school. These facilities allow students to undergo the academic teaching and learning process, arts and cultural training, as well as co-curricular and recreational activities as scheduled and planned by the school. In principle, the physical facilities at an arts school comprise the following:

  • Buildings and basic facilities;
  • Arts complex  (arts studio);
  • Equipment; and
  • Landscaping and environment

The buildings and basic amenities at the arts school should feature an attractive design and an environment that is conducive for students to develop their talent in the arts, apart from the academic learning. These facilities include:

  • Academic block
  • Laboratory block
  • Science laboratory
  • Computer laboratory
  • Language laboratory
  • Hostel blocks – male and female
  • Quarters for teachers and support staff
  • Dining hall
  • Sports fields and courts
  • Bus and coaster

The amenities at the arts complex serve to display the work of students, whether for the purposes of evaluation or arts appreciation at the school level. The arts complex has the following facilities:

  • Experimental hall/auditorium (performance)
    • Musical
    • Theatre
    • Dance
  • Exhibition hall/art gallery
  • Visual arts
  • Design
  • Films
  • Videos
  • Recording
  • Editing
  • Mixing
  • Viewing room
  • Mini studio
  • Dance studio
  • Theatrical studio
  • Music studio

Supporting equipment for the arts includes teaching and learning facilities with modern equipment in line with current development and progress in the arts, technology and social life. These include:

  • ICT facilities
  • Filming equipment
  • Public address system
  • Costumes and props
  • Lighting equipment
  • Painting equipment
  • Musical instruments
  • Decorating equipment

Accordingly, the landscaping and environment of an arts school should have features that are conducive and attractive to encourage creativity and inventiveness of the students in producing quality work and arts performances. The landscape design, whether natural or artificial, should be based on local cultures and values.


Intake is open to all students in government and government-assisted schools from across the country. The intake is open to Form 1 students only. There is no intake for students in Forms two, three, four or five.

Application for admission to an arts school is only via on-line using the e-SSeM system which is activated from May to September every year. Applicants can log in using their UPSR index number and fill in all information online at http://apps.moe.gov.my/essem/permohonan.

Students who missed applying online or who do not have internet access may apply as walk-in candidates by filling in the application form manually during the arts audition.

The arts audition session is a selection exercise held nationwide for student admission to an arts school. It is usually held in October yearly before the Primary School Achievement Test (UPSR). Applicants will be tested on their aptitude in the art form of their choice: music, dance, theatre or visual arts. The panel of examiners comprise those who have expertise in one of the four art forms mentioned above.

Admission Criteria

The successful applicant must:

  1. Be a Malaysian citizen
  2. Possess talent and potential in the preferred art form (music, dance, theatre or visual arts)
  3. Be non-disabled
  4. Have passed the arts audition
  5. Have obtained a minimum 3Bs in the UPSR


Malaysian Arts School

Field offered

Total intake

Johor Bahru Malaysian Arts School

Music, dance, theatre and visual arts

75 students

Kuching Malaysian Arts School

85 students

Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Arts School

Music only

60 students

Class Enrolment

The number of students who can be accepted for any subject is highly dependent on availability of facilities. Nevertheless, to ensure the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process, the recommended number of students at any arts school is not more than 25 students for every class of a subject (additional classes are subject to physical planning).


3 Malaysian arts schools have been established:

Jalan Demak
93050 Kuching

Tel.: 082-449586
Fax: 082-449605
E-mail: sskuching@yahoo.com

Jalan Abdul Samad
80100 Johor Bahru

Fax: 07-2263100

SMK Shah Alam
Jalan Persiaran Anjung Seri
U8/80 Bukit Jelutong
40150, Shah Alam
Selangor Darul Ehsan
Email : wea0258@moe.gov.my

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Amy De Kanter
Amy De Kanter

Former Chief Editor, frequent contributor and enthusiastic audience member, Amy is thrilled to have a job that lets her do three of the things she loves most.