KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 — Muslims have more formal schooling in Malaysia compared to those of other faiths, a Pew Research Centre study showed.
The survey by the global pollster found that Muslim men had the most education, but also found that younger Muslim women in Malaysia are now more likely to have post-secondary degrees compared to young Muslim men, as Muslim women globally close the gender gap.
“In higher education, the gender gap among Muslims has narrowed by 3 percentage points over generations,” said the survey released last week.
“Not only that, but in some countries, the gender gap has reversed among the youngest Muslims — meaning that young Muslim women are now more likely than young Muslim men to have post-secondary degrees,” it added, naming Malaysia as an example.
Muslim men in Malaysia receive on average 10.6 years of formal education and significantly above the national average, compared to other male adherents like Buddhists (10.4 years), Hindus (10.3), Christians (9.6), and those unaffiliated to the four major faiths (8.2).
Similarly, Muslim women in Malaysia receive longer formal education at 9.8 years, compared to other female adherents like Buddhists (9.2 years), Hindus (9.1), Christians (8.4), and the unaffiliated (8.2).
The average period of schooling in Malaysia is 9.9 years — 10.4 years for men and 9.4 years for women.
The survey also highlighted that more Buddhists in Malaysia have higher education compared to those in China and Nepal, with 23 per cent of young Malaysian Buddhists possessing post-secondary degrees.
However, the proportion is still small compared to Buddhists in neighbouring Singapore and Japan, where young Buddhists who are similarly educated are at 79 per cent and 62 per cent respectively.
For those above 25 years old, it also found that 36 per cent of those unaffiliated have no formal education at all, compared to merely 11 per cent of Muslims, Hindus (12 per cent), Buddhists (13 per cent), and Christians (20 per cent).
Globally, the survey showed that Jews are more highly educated than other major groups at 13.4 years, while Muslims and Hindus tend to have the fewest years of formal schooling, both at 5.6 years.
The survey said one of the factors is the location of the adherents, with most Jews living in the United States and Israel, economically developed countries with high levels of education.
The survey was conducted by measuring the level of education of three cohorts: the “oldest” (born 1936-1955), “middle” (born 1956-1975) and “youngest” (born 1976-1985).
For Malaysia, the data was retrieved from the 2010 national census.