The Numbers on Education in Malaysia and Penang

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In Malaysia, there are three levels of education: primary, secondary and tertiary. In 2015 there were 7,763 government and government-aided primary schools with 2,683,992 students; 2,397 government and government-aided secondary schools with 2,072,162 students; and 576 higher education institutions (including private institutions) with 1,272,071 students.[1] , [2]

Primary Level

Malaysia has three types of government and government-aided primary schools – academic schools, religious schools and special education schools. Academic schools include national, national-type Chinese and national-type Tamil schools. As of 2015 there were 7,699 academic schools, 36 religious schools and 28 special education schools in Malaysia (Table 1).

Table 2 shows the number of students, teachers and the ratio of each in primary schools in Penang and Malaysia.

Figure 1 shows the percentage of gender mixture in teachers and students in Malaysia and Penang in 2015. While gender mixture among students is relatively balanced, there are more female teachers than male teachers.

Secondary Level

At the secondary level of education, there are four types of government and government-aided secondary schools: academic-based, religious, technical and vocational. Table 3 shows the number of secondary schools based on type in 2015.

Table 4 shows the number of students, teachers and student-teacher ratio in secondary schools in Malaysia and Penang in 2015.

Figure 2 shows the gender mixture in secondary schools in Malaysia and Penang. The gender mixture pattern of teachers in the secondary level is similar to the primary level – there are more female than male teachers. Although the gender mixture of students are more balanced in academic, religious and technical type schools, there are more male students in vocational schools.

The Numbers on Education in Malaysia and Penang
The Numbers on Education in Malaysia and Penang
The Numbers on Education in Malaysia and Penang

Tertiary Level

As of 2015 there are 20 public universities, 27 institutes of teacher education, 33 polytechnics, 90 community colleges [3] and 496 private institutions of higher learning [4] – 56 of which are registered with the Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities.[5]

The total number of students studying in Malaysian higher education institutions is 1,272,071. There are 540,638 students studying in public universities, 580,928 in private higher education institutions, 96,069 in polytechnics, 35,907 in institutes of teacher education and 18,529 in community colleges. Figure 3 shows the percentage of students in different types of Malaysian higher education institutions in 2015.

There are a total of 1,272,071 students and 79,922 lecturers across all types of higher education institutions. Out of the 1,272,071 students, 571,360 (44.92%) are male and 700,711 (55.08%) are female. There are more female students in public universities and institutes of teacher education, with a female-male ratio of 1.63 and 2.36 respectively.

The Numbers on Education in Malaysia and Penang

In the other types of institutions, the ratio is closer to one, indicating a more balanced gender mixture. Although the majority of the students are female, there are more male lecturers than females. Table 5 shows in detail the number of lecturers and students based on gender and type of institutions.

In Penang, there are two public universities – Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Pulau Pinang – six community colleges, three polytechnics, two institutes of teacher education and 34 private higher education institutions.6

In 2015 the two public universities produced 8,415 graduates, equivalent to 6.87% of total graduates from public universities in Malaysia. 33.44% of the graduates in Penang are in the engineering, manufacturing and construction fields. Penang public universities contributed most to the fields of health and welfare, registering about 22% of the total graduates in Malaysia. Table 6 shows the number of graduates from public universities in Penang based on their field of study and gender.

  • [1]Department of Statistics Malaysia, Social Statistical Bulletin (Putrajaya: Department of Statistics Malaysia, 2016).
  • [2]Obtained from the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia website, https://www.mohe.gov.my.
  • [3]Department of Statistics Malaysia, Social Statistical Bulletin 2016.
  • [4]From the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia website.
  • [5]Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities, “Governing Council and Members,” http://www.mapcu.com.my/governing_members.html.



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