Maldives ranks first in Asia/Pacific for education spending and divorce rate: OECD report

The Maldives has the highest divorce rate and ranks number one in the Asia Pacific region on education spending as a percentage of GDP, according to the ‘Society at a Glance: Asia/Pacific 2011’ overview of social indicators released by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) last month.

The Maldives spends the highest proportion of GDP on public education (8.1 percent) across the Asia/Pacific region, the report found, which was four times higher than countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar.

The Ministry of Education’s expenditure in 2011 amounted to Rf1.7 billion (US$110 million).

Maldives was also among developing Asia/Pacific nations that experienced rapid declines in fertility rates, slowing down in 2008 to fertility rates comparable with OECD countries.

The divorce rate in the Maldives is meanwhile “three times higher than the average of the Asia/Pacific countries and economies.”

A four percent decrease in the marriage rate was however the sharpest decline in the region, while a five percent rise in divorce rates was the fastest.

On the level of employment, the Maldives ranks alongside Sri Lanka and Indonesia where “more than one in four economically active young people is unemployed.”

Moreover, female unemployment in the Maldives “is more than three times the male rate.”

The pension system meanwhile covered 24 percent of the labour force and 16 percent of the working age population.

The report noted that Maldives, along with Vietnam and Thailand, was not far behind Australia in the percentage of pre-school children attending an early education programme. However, similar to Tajikistan and Laos, Maldives has “a slightly higher attendance for boys.”

Average years of total schooling in the Maldives as of 2010 was 6.1, well below the OECD average of 12.7.

Of the population indicators measured in the report, the gender ratio in the Maldives was 103 males per 100 females.

Life expectancy at birth of the total population between 1990 and 2008 was 71.6 years, slightly higher than the Asia/Pacific average. Japan was ranked first with 82.6 years.

As of 2008, infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births was 12.7, higher than the OECD average of 4.6.

On the availability of water and sanitation, 98 percent of the population had access to the utility services.

Suicide rates in the country was the fourth highest in the region at 22.4 (deaths per 100,000).

Voter turnout meanwhile averaged at 71 percent. However 85 percent of the population voted in the historic presidential election of October 2008.