“Don’t overgeneralise, blame marriage for higher dropout rate among female high school students”

DISCIPLINARY problems in local secondary schools as well as the issue of student attendance are the main reasons as to why many underaged girls drop out of school and tie the knot early, said Wanita MCA spokesperson Ivone Low Yi Wen.

She was responding to Deputy Education Minister Lim Hui Ying who said in Dewan Rakyat yesterday (Oct 11) that the dropout rate of primary and secondary schools in the country has fallen to less than 1%.

However, while the dropout rate of male secondary school students has lessened, Lim also noted that the dropout rate of female secondary school students had risen from 0.40% in 2019 to 0.71% in 2022.

In response, Low said it is “too sweeping of a statement” and an “overgeneralisation” to blame marriage as one of the causes for the high dropout rate among female secondary school students.

“In refuting her statement, we cannot dismiss the fact that there permeate serious problems in the curriculum and system of secondary schools whereby urgent reforms and improvements are required,” she said in a statement today (Oct 12).

“The core setback is that the Education Ministry has not kept pace with the times when handling secondary education.

“Disciplinary problems in local secondary schools have festered for a long time, while the issue of student attendance has not received enough attention, let alone proposed solutions.

“These problems are the main reasons as to why many underage girls drop out of school and tie the knot early, and not vice versa.”

According to Low, the syllabus for secondary school education is inadequate in the segments on gender relations and sex education, resulting in students lacking the necessary knowledge and awareness.

“This exacerbates the problems of early marriage and early pregnancy among youngsters. The Education Ministry should prioritise solving these cases rather than fault marriage as to why female secondary students leave school early before the syllabus’ completion,” she asserted.

“By reviewing the entire existing system and curriculum for secondary education and focusing on solving key issues, the Education Ministry would be able to ensure that every student would receive better quality education and fully develop and realise their potential.”

In response to a query from Petaling Jaya MP Lee Chean Chung on the dropout rate from the school system and the measures taken for them to return to their education, Lim had said that lack of interests, working, family issues, marriage and difficulties of going to schools due to distance were among the main reasons for students dropping out of school.

This is based on records in the Student Database Application System (APDM) from 2019 to 2023. – Oct 12, 2023


Main pic credit: The Malaysian Reserve

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