We always hear that we did not inherit the world, but only borrow it from our children. In this context, the youth of Malaysia, China, and India share a common goal. They are searching for opportunities to live a better quality of life, and one that will give them successful careers, shorter working hours, the financial freedom to spend while travelling across the world, indulge in good food and be able to spend on luxurious accessories.
Today, Asia-Pacific contains 60 percent of the world’s youth population. In Malaysia the youth population is 11.5 million, while China has a relatively smaller proportion of youth to its population, partially a result of China’s one-child policy. In India, the number of people in the age group of 15-34 increased from 353 million in 2001 to 430 million in 2011. By 2020, 64 percent of its population will be in the working age group. Every third person in an Indian city today falls into this category. In about seven years, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, making it the country with the largest number of young people in the world.
Malaysia and India share a similar educational landscape. The education systems in both countries consist of pre-primary, primary, and secondary levels–that makes up basic education. After that comes tertiary education. The education system in China is slightly different as it consists of primary school, junior middle school, senior high school or vocational school and university or college. Upon completion of basic education, the youth can pursue their studies in occupational institutes/polytechnics or in institutions of higher education. Lastly, working adults can join adult education programmes that include anti-illiteracy programmes and other areas of interest to adults.
In Malaysia, youth literacy is about 98.5 percent and every 6 out of 10 Malaysians hold degrees. According to Malaysian higher education statistics in 2011, over 103,000 (of some 937,000) students were enrolled in postgraduate diploma programmes. This is a marked difference from 34,000 (of some 664,000) students undertaking postgraduate studies in public and private institutions in 2002. In China, the average literacy rate among the youth is 98.8 percent. The annual graduate output in China reached 5 million by 2004, including 4.3 million studying for bachelor degrees and diplomas and 0.2 million enrolled in postgraduate programs. Additionally, some 20,000 graduates are now returning annually to China after further studies abroad. In India, the youth literacy rate is 83.7 percent. In 2004, India’s transition rate from secondary to tertiary education was 71.2 percent. This shows good progress in advancement of education in India.