Malaysian Adolescents Not in School: The Nexus of Education, Work and Gender
Keywords:Educational outcomes, gender, labour force, school dropout, quality of schooling
Malaysia has achieved all the Millennium Development Goals, including that of education, a consequence of expanding opportunities for education at all levels. These positives notwithstanding, significant attrition occurs in secondary school despite the provision of universal secondary education, with male attrition exceeding female attrition. The study finds that this has contributed not just to an under-qualified labour force but to a reduction in the potential for a tertiary educated one. The gendered nature of attrition is seen to be consistent across different indicators of educational outcomes and across different strata of society. It is argued that this is a symptom of critical deficits in the classroom. The over-correction in gender imbalance in education has not improved women’s position in society relative to other countries. Unless educational reform policies are directed at the black box that generates learning in the classroom, Malaysia will find it difficult to maintain its competitiveness in the world economy.