Education and Social Characteristics of the Population,
Population and Housing Census 2000


Education and Social Characteristics of the Population, Population and Housing Census 2000.

August 2002

This publication provides users with data from the 2000 Population and Housing Census for education and social characteristics such as literacy, school attendance, highest level of education attained, highest certificate/diploma/degree obtained, main field of study and marital status. The information is presented at the national and state level, and by sex, ethnic group and age.


Literacy Rate
The literacy rate among Malaysian citizens aged 10 - 64 years improved from 88.6% in 1991 to 93.5% in 2000, thus representing an increase of about 5 percentage points over the 1991-2000 period.

A comparison of the literacy rates at the state level revealed that there was an increase in the literacy rate for all states between 1991 and 2000, the biggest being for the state of Sabah where literacy increased from 79.3% to 86.5% that is an increase of 7.5 percentage points over the 1991-2000 period. The lowest increase was recorded for Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur at 3.4 percentage points each. The states with the highest literacy rates in 1991 continued to record high rates in 2000. Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur which experienced the highest literacy rate at 94.1% in 1991 also recorded the highest rate in 2000 at 97.5%. Selangor maintained its second position recording a rate of 93.1% in 1991 which increased to 97.0% in 2000.


School Attandance

At Malaysia level, it was observed that 92.7% of the male population aged 6 years and over had ever been to school compared to 87.6% for females in Census 2000. This represented a narrowing in the gap between the sexes when compared to Census 1991 where these percentages stood at 88.4% for males and 79.8% for females.

The pattern recorded at the national level in Census 2000 was repeated at the state level whereby the percentage of male population aged 6 years and over ever been to school was higher than that of the females in every state; the sex differential in the percentage point being in the range of 2.8 (Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur) and 8.8 (Sarawak).

As expected, Census 2000 also revealed that the more urban states such as Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Pulau Pinang recorded the highest percentages (both for males and females). On the other hand, among the states that recorded the lowest percentage (both for males and females) were Sabah, Sarawak and Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan.


Educational Attainment

Information on educational attainment collected in the 2000 Census referred to the highest level of schooling attained whether it be pre school, primary, secondary or higher education. The percentage of Malaysian citizens aged 20 years and over with higher education (ie post secondary, college or university) increased from 8.9% in 1991 to 16.0% in 2000. This pattern was also observed for all the major ethnic groups; for Malays it increased from 10.3% to 17.3% while for the Chinese the increase was from 9.0% to 16.5% and Indians from 7.6% to 13.0% over the 1991-2000 period.


Highest Qualification (Certificate/Diploma/Degree) Obtained

The highest qualifications referred to are PMR/SRP/LCE and above. It was observed that for all the three major ethnic groups, a higher percentage of males aged 15 years and over possessed paper qualifications than their female counterparts; the gap being 5.5 percentage points for Bumiputera, 4.9 percentage points for Chinese and 10.0 percentage points for Indians. This sex differential among the ethnic groups in favour of the males was observed in all the states.

A comparison among the three major ethnic groups for males revealed that the percentage of population 15 years and over having either a certificate, diploma or degree was highest for Indians (64.8%) followed by Bumiputera (63.7%) and Chinese (60.2%). However, among females the highest percentage was noted for the Bumiputera (58.2%) followed by Chinese (55.3%) and Indians (54.8%).

A state-wise comparison of the three major ethnic groups by sex revealed that the states of Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur and Selangor recorded the highest percentages of population with paper qualifications for all ethnic groups, both for males as well as females. At the other end of the spectrum, the state having the lowest percent of population with these qualifications varied for each ethnic group; Sabah and Sarawak in the case of Bumiputera; Pahang and Perak in the case of Chinese as well as Indians.


Main Field of Study

In Census 2000, for all persons who had obtained certificates/diplomas/degrees as a result of completing tertiary education or had obtained technical or trade skill certificates/diplomas, information was obtained with regards to the main field of study pertaining to the highest qualification obtained.

At the national level the predominant field of study was social science, business and law (35.4%) followed by engineering, construction and skill training (22.6%) and education (15.4%). This pattern observed at the national level held true for almost all states with these three main fields of study accounting for nearly three quarters of the total.


Mean Age At First Marriage

For all ethnic groups in every state in Malaysia, males tend to marry at a later age compared to females. It was observed that males generally marry at an age slightly more than 3 years later than females.

A comparison among the three main ethnic groups at the Malaysia level showed that the mean age at first marriage for males is highest for Chinese (30.6 years), followed by Indians (28.8 years) and Bumiputera (27.8 years). This pattern of age at first marriage among the ethnic groups was similarly observed for females whereby the highest was recorded for the Chinese (27.0 years), followed by the Indians (25.4 years) and Bumiputera (24.5 years).

The above ethnic group pattern observed at the national level was also observed for almost all states, with the males recording a higher mean age at first marriage than females. A comparison among the states revealed that Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur recorded the highest mean age at first marriage for all the three major ethnic groups for both males as well as females. At the other end of the spectrum, Sarawak and Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan generally recorded the lowest mean age at first marriage for Bumiputeras and Chinese, irrespective of sex.

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