In 2013, IDEAS conducted a survey on education, also known as Giving Voice to the Poor, to uncover the needs and aspirations of parents from low-income households around Malaysia. The survey covered over 1,200 respondents of which 150 respondents had at least one child who had dropped out of school. This paper takes a closer look at this group of 150 in an attempt to further understand issues that parents perceive as the reasons for a child dropping out. These reasons include a lack of interest for school, the inability to pay for education-related expenses, and poor academic performance among others. Involvement of parents in a child’s education related activities at home, frequency of interaction of parents with school teachers, management and PTA, and parents’ opinions of education including technical and vocational education pathways are also considered.
While data from the Ministry of Education show that the dropout rates are low in Malaysia, the absolute number of students leaving the system before completing a full secondary education reaches into the thousands. A majority of these students are from low-income households, hindering their ability to improve upon their socioeconomic status.
This paper hopes to add to the existing literature on dropouts in Malaysia and provide a more contemporary look at the issue and proposes that the issue of dropouts in the country deserves a reexamination in the form of a more comprehensive study.