Malaysia - Education

Six years of free primary education are followed by three years of comprehensive general and prevocational education. Two further years of education at the post-comprehensive level, in either a vocational or an academic program, are offered. A two-year preuniversity course prepares students for admission to the universities. Malay is the medium of instruction in primary and secondary schools, with English as a compulsory second language. Muslim religious instruction is compulsory for all Muslim children while private Christian schools offer religious training to their students. For the year 2000, an estimated 12.5% of the adult population (males, 8.5%; females, 16.4%) was illiterate. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.6% of GDP.

In 1997, primary schools enrolled 2,840,667 pupils, instructed by 148,000 teachers. Student-to-teacher ratio stood at 19 to 1. In secondary schools, there were 1,889,592 pupils, instructed by 102,139 teachers, in 1998. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 20 to 1 in 1999. In 1996, 210,724 students were enrolled and 14,960 teaching faculty were employed in institutions of higher education, which include the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (the National University of Malaysia), the University of Malaya, and the Technological University of Malaysia, all in or near Kuala Lumpur, and the University of Science Malaysia (formerly the University of Pinang). The MARA Institute of Technology is the largest post-secondary institute in the country.

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