KUALA LUMPUR: Child marriages have been cited as one of the reasons for school dropouts, says Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.
"There are several factors identified that result in students dropping out of school, which differs between one community and another.
"Among the factors identified are poverty, students' lack on interest, lackadaisical attitude of parents, illness or disabilities, learning problems and social problems including underage marriages," he said when replying to a question by Awang Husiani Sahari (PH-Putatan) during Minister's Question Time in Parliament on Thursday (Nov 29).
Dr Maszlee said there was an improvement in curbing dropouts by primary school students.
"There has been a rising trend in Standard Six students transiting to Form One between 2014 and 2017 from 95.6% to 97.52%.
"The number of primary school dropouts has fallen from 0.34% to 0.29% in the same period.
"The ministry hopes to lower this and has set 0.27% target for 2019," he said.
Besides providing financial aid and scholarships to students from the lower income families, Dr Maszlee said the ministry issued guidelines in June this year for schools to deal students at risk of becoming dropouts at the micro level.
He also said that a Zero Student Dropout pilot programme was launched recently in Langkawi, Hulu Langat, Pasir Mas, Kluang and Kulai.
"The respective state education departments and district education office under the programme have been asked to identify icons from among the palace, industry, government or elected representatives to attract the communities in the areas to join in an effort to tackle student dropouts," he said.
So far the programme has succeeded in identifying and getting dropouts to enrol in schools again.
He said the programme will be expanded nationwide to help achieve the goal of zero school dropouts.
He added that the effort to prevent dropouts also covered students with disabilities under the ministry's Zero Reject Policy.