Malaysia’s education philosophy, policy and the curriculum derived from it appear to be excellent and forward-thinking in concept. The education policy has incorporated, whether consciously or otherwise, elements from three of the four traditions, but to a large extent from essentialism. If the aims of the policy are met, the products of the national schooling system should generally exhibit the attributes as envisaged in the philosophy and Vision 2020, i.e. the learning outcomes should produce “individuals who are intellectually and spiritually balanced, skilled and innovative, in a liberal and tolerant society”.But have the ideals been achieved? Judging by the public debate in the media nowadays, there are doubts. The public are questioning the efficacy of the national schools system, which in spite of massive government investment, has apparently failed to produce school leavers, and even university graduates, with the right quality, skills, confidence and competency. The lack of public faith has manifested itself in the mushrooming of tuition centres as well as parents’ preference for sending their children to vernacular schools. This will eventually defeat the national aspiration to create unity through the education system.