Dropout rate higher at secondary school level, says Deputy Education Minister

KUALA LUMPUR: The dropout rate is higher at the secondary school level compared to primary school level as many secondary school students prefer to start working due to poverty, Parliament heard.

Deputy Education Minister Lim Hui Ying said some of the students needed to support their families and chose to start working and not to continue their studies.

"When they start working, they will share some part of the responsibility to bear the financial burden to support their own families.

"So, they choose not to continue their education. This is a social problem that we must address," she said in reply to a supplementary question from Muhammad Ismi Mat Taib (PN-Parit) during Question Time on Monday (June 12).

Muhammad Ismi had asked the ministry to explain comprehensive measures taken to address the issue of school dropouts, especially those in the rural areas.

Lim revealed that as of June 2022, the dropout rate among students nationwide at the primary school level stood at 0.07%, while it was 0.99% at the secondary school level.

In this regard, she said that the ministry has come up with 18 types of educational assistance for 2023, consisting of 13 special assistance programmes and five general assistance programmes.

This assistance is also distributed to eligible students from low-income or poor families, such as the Federal Small Scholarship (BKP), Supplementary Food Program (RMT), Poor Students Trust Fund (KWAPM), Early Schooling Assistance (BAP), Boarding School Food Assistance (BMA), Boarding School Student Travel and Transportation Assistance (PPM), and Uniform Clothing Assistance (BPS).

"In addition, various forms of assistance, such as textbook loans, guidance and counseling services, and remedial teachers, are provided to support students' interest in continuing their education," she said.

She added that the Education Ministry was aware that attendance was affected when parents had to bear high costs to send their children to school, especially those located far from their homes.

To ensure access to education is prioritised, the Education Ministry also expanded the Comprehensive School 9 or (K9) concept from 12 existing schools to 17 schools.

"The main goal of the K9 schools is to address the dropout issue in rural areas, especially for students facing difficulties in continuing their education to the upper secondary level due to factors such as the distance to secondary schools, challenging terrain, and socio-economic status of the family," she added.

She also pointed out that the Education Ministry also expanded the K9 concept to Comprehensive School 11 (K11).

"This is an initiative to provide more comprehensive education access from primary to secondary level for 11 years, from Year 1 to Form 5.

"The K11 concept is also expected to reduce the dropout rate during the transition from Form 3 to Form 4 or the transition from lower secondary to upper secondary level," she said, adding that the K11 schools are also part of the initiative to support the ministry's efforts in ensuring that students in identified areas can complete 11 years of education.

"As a pilot project, the Education Ministry has launched the K11 programme at SK RPS Betau, Kuala Lipis, Pahang, which is now known as SMK RPS Betau, specifically for Orang Asli students in the area.

"In addition, this pilot programme is also implemented at SMK Long Bedian, Baram, Sarawak.

"We believe that the assistance provided can address student dropout and ensure their continuation within the national education system until completion," she said.

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