KUALA LUMPUR: Child marriage is among the reasons for dropping out of schools in Malaysia, even as Sabah moves to discourage the practice among its natives’ groups.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik told Parliament that several factors had been identified for students dropping out of school.
“Among these are poverty, students’ lack of interest, the lackadaisical attitude of parents, illness or disabilities, social problems (and) learning problems, including underage marriages,” he told Awang Husiani Sahari (PH-Putatan) during the Minister’s Question Time yesterday.
However, Dr Maszlee said there had been an improvement in curbing dropouts among primary school pupils.
“Year Six pupils transiting to Form One have risen from 95.6% to 97.52% between 2014 and 2017.
“The number of primary school dropouts has fallen from 0.34% to 0.29% in the same period,” he said, adding that the ministry hoped to lower this to 0.27% next year.
Besides providing financial aid and scholarships to students from lower-income families, Dr Maszlee said it had issued guidelines in June for schools to deal with those facing a risk of dropping out at the micro level.
In Kota Kinabalu, asssistant Sabah Law and Native Affairs Minister Jannie Lasimbang said the state was looking to discourage underage native marriages simply because they wanted to hide pregnancies.
She said this was done by training native court judges to consider alternatives to marriage for pregnant girls.
These alternatives, she said, might include registering the baby under a single mother under the relevant laws – for the baby to be raised by the family or given up for adoption.
Speaking at a recent seminar on “International Day for Elimination of Vio-ence Against Women and Children” at the Institute of Native Affairs in Penampang here, Lasimbang said underage marriage should be stopped.
She said there was enough medical evidence to show that girls could face many complications during and after giving birth and that they were neither ready nor emotionally matured enough to be mothers.
“As children, they have their right to an education for a better future.
“Statistics showed that 80% of couples who married below 18 eventually ended in divorce because both were still too young and not stable in their lives,” said Lasimbang.
She said the Women and Family Development Minister was expected to table amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act next year to raise the marriage age to 18, adding that any attempt to wed below that might be considered as rape.
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