Knowledge has always been a key ingredient in nation building. It is important in developing our infrastructures, in improving the livelihood of the people, and in science and innovation; all of these are very important for our survival as well as to place our country among other developed nations of the world.
And the most common way to attain knowledge is by way of formal education. Malaysia has consistently been one of the biggest spenders with regards to education. According to UNESCO Institute of Statistics, Malaysia’s public expenditure on education in 2009 is 5.8% of our country’s GDP and18.9% of our government’s total expenditure. This places Malaysia among the top 20 nations with biggest provisions for education.
Malaysians have benefited greatly from this keen focus given to our education system. Our adult literacy rate has gone up from 84.3% in 1980 to 92.8% in 2008. And more Malaysians now pursue secondary education. In 1971, merely 39.3% or 1.4 million students between the ages of 12 and 16 continue on from primary schools onto secondary. But by 2007, this figure has improved greatly. Now, 81% of 12 to 16 year olds pursue secondary education, the most basic employable qualification.
As for tertiary education, we are now ranked at the 11th place by UNESCO for its appeal to international students. As of 2010, the number of international students at various public and private institutions of higher learning has increased significantly from 18,000 in 2001 to 87,000 students. And the total of student enrolment into our higher education institutions in 2001 was 628, 479 but has grown to 1,134,134 in 2010.
Excellent students in Malaysia are also typically given the chance to experience the world and learn from the top minds in foreign universities. From the year 2008 up to 2011, as many as 20,000 to 40,000 Malaysian students have been sent to study abroad on sponsorships each year.
To see hundreds of thousands students benefit from Malaysia’s keen interest in education opportunities, I say, this is one of the nice things we Malaysians enjoy.