The education system in Malaysia is varied due to differences in funding and religion between schools, colleges and such. The other primary difference is culture, where you may see schools with a Malaysian culture alongside schools with an Australian, British, Chinese, French, Canadian and German culture. In the western world there tends to be more female students in higher education than male, as female students are doing better, on average, in education than male students are.
In Malaysia, the trend is in the other direction with the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) saying that not enough female students are in compulsory and higher education. There is a 2:1 ratio of boys to girls in polytechnics and at public higher learning institutions.
My argument is that there are more males in both compulsory and higher education because there are more job opportunities for men in Malaysia than there are for women.
From a parents perspective, it is better to invest household resources in the child that is most likely to start working after school and college and earning a decent amount to bring into the household. Though the parents may be sure of their female child’s academic prowess, they cannot be sure that the female student will be able to use her qualifications as readily as a male student will.
Definitive counter argument
The real reason that female students are less prevalent in both compulsory school and higher education is because females and women in general have no respect in Malaysia. They are seen as second-class citizens and are viewed as lesser people. They are seen as dumber and less assertive than men. They are seen as less driven and less ambitious.
It is true that this feeling may mean that a lot of women cannot get jobs at a decent level and cannot use their qualifications to their best possible use, but the job market is not where the problem starts, the problem starts with the attitude people have towards women in Malaysia. If attitudes were to change, then the entire problem would go away.
The females would have more respect in class and so would want to go to school, the male students would see women being respected and would respect them after school, and women would get jobs so that their parents feel that them getting an education is worth it.
It is clearly because the female students do not like the school uniforms that they do not go to school as much as male students. In 1970, all school uniforms were made compulsory. Male students have to wear the same thing, but female students may wear what the school culture and religion demands. Clearly, there are plenty of school that demands ugly uniforms from women, which is why fewer women go to school and higher education.
There appears to be no definitive answer. It is clear that women do not get the respect they deserve in Malaysia, and that women also do not get as many employment opportunities. It seems that both are fundamental problems and that if even one of those problems were solved, then there would be a dramatic increase in the number of female students in compulsory school and higher education.