Catholic schools in Malaysia have been the backbone of formal education in the country. Catholic schools have undergone many changes since independence in the late 50s and early 60s. The education policy in Malaysia is very centralized. In 1988, all Catholic religious brothers older than 55 were asked to retire with immediate effect, creating vacancies for lay teachers to take over. Any new brother wanting to join the teaching profession in Malaysia have to be in the civil service and share the same status as lay teachers. Many of the Lasallian traditions such as inter-La Salle games or sports are now integrated into other larger government funded programmes. With Islam being the state religion, compulsory or elective Bible lessons today are limited only to those of the Catholic faith. The missionaries who opened schools in Malaysia gave a solid education framework. Today, there are 68 Sisters of the Infant Jesus,11 Parish Convents and 46 La Salle Brothers schools in the country.