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Education and Literacy in Malaysia

Malaysia has a diverse range of social services provided to Malays that are managed by the Government, but it is not considered a welfare state.  Education has high priority in the government and it receives the second highest allotment of funds (next to defense).  

Free compulsory education is available to children from ages 6 to 16, with the option of attending another two years free.  Bahasa Malaysia is the language used in the classroom with English provided as a compulsory subject.  Education is also provided at the primary level with Chinese or Tamil as the medium of instruction with Bahasa Malaysia and English as the compulsory subjects, but the children who attend these schools have an additional year of schooling in "bridge classes" that help them become more proficient in Bahasa Malaysia for the next levels of education.

Secondary education attendance rates were substantially lower than that of primary school in 1995, 57 percent enrollment.  Bahasa Malaysia is the medium of instruction, with English as a compulsory second language.  

There are numerous institutions of higher learning, including about nine universities (National University, Bangi; University of Technology, Johor Baharu; University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur). 


Ethnic groups:
Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8% (2004 est.)
Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census)
Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
note: in East Malaysia there are several indigenous languages; most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.7%
male: 92%
female: 85.4% (2000 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2007)
Education expenditures:
4.5% of GDP (2007)
country comparison to the world: 90 supports I.C.E.Y. - H.O.P.E. (non-profit org)
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