Monday, June 27, 2005

National vs Chinese School (I)

My daughter, Xin Ying is only 6 months old. So it's really too early think about where she's going to study. However, I've been asked this question many times by friends and relatives - "Where should we send our daughter to school?" This is not to mention the fact that my wife and myself have casually discussed this topic many times, even before Xin Ying was born. ;) And to be frank, we don't have a conclusive answer at this stage.

The national (Kebangsaan) vs the Chinese school debate is an extremely large and sensitive debate in the Malaysian politics. My posts on this topic for this blog shall be broken into three parts - I'll post them as I complete writing over the course of this week :).

  • In Part I, I shall outline the criteria that should be used in order to decide whether I should send her to a national or Chinese school.

  • In Part II, I shall try to evaluate which type of school will be able to best deliver the criteria outlined in Part I.

  • And finally in Part III, I shall outline several policy recommendations which I believe will be able to improve our education system further to best achieve the criteria stated here.

Hopefully, by the time Xin Ying is 6 years old, the decision on which type of school she should attend will be a much easier one to make.

To give a bit of background of the proud parents - I attended a national-type former missionary primary school in Batu Pahat - Montfort Boys School from 1978. So, my education was pretty much in Bahasa Malaysia although some of the teachers continued to teach in English. My parents were both Chinese educated who did not complete primary school and hence barely knew a handful of English words. My parents sent me to Montfort because it was the top primary school in Batu Pahat, and one of the best in Johor during that time. On the other hand, my wife, Ting Fong went through Chinese girls primary school - SRK(C) Ai Chun I, Batu Pahat - before joining a national-type secondary school. So both of us have a pretty good understanding of the national type and vernacular type schools in Malaysia. So, why is it such a difficult decision to make?

Let’s first review our key priorities in terms of the type of school our child should be in (not in any particular order):

  1. Academic standards

    Needless to say, the academic standards, as well as the overall quality of education has to be high. As parents, we are all keen to have our children study in the top schools if they are able to, so that they can have a good future ahead of them. It’ll also to a certain extent provide them with an edge over the crowd.

  2. Mother tongue education

    I’m thankful that despite having attended a national type school in the past, I’m still fairly fluent in Mandarin (putonghua) and able to read and write simple Chinese. This was thankfully sufficient for me to conduct business in Greater China. I'm fortunate because Mandarin was my lingua franca at home, besides a sprinkling of the Teochew dialect. My parents were kind enough to have taught me some written Chinese since I was four or five years old as well, and I took up additional "homework" in the language during my university days.

    Mother tongue education is hence important to us, as it not only represents our cultural roots, the Chinese language has also incidentally become probably the second most important language for commerce in the world. English competence in China is now limited to the elite academia, and the China businessmen have little or no knowledge of it. Hence if one is at all interested in business in China, competence in Mandarin will be imperative.

  3. English language

    While our mother tongue education is important, English language competence is likely to be of greater immediate importance. This is because the top universities which are recognised worldwide today, are located in the English speaking world – be it Oxbridge or the Ivy leagues. In addition, the bulk of the reference materials are of English language origin or at the very least, would have a translated version in English.

    Hence, whichever choice of education system our kids undertake, it should be able to provide them with a strong and solid foundation in English. In addition, we believe that language education is most important during primary school, as that’s when it is easiest for them to pick up the rudiments of any language.

  4. National integration

    What has national integration got to do with a kid’s education, you might ask? National integration tends to be absent from most people’s priority list when selecting a schooling system for their children. I’ll place additional emphasis on this criterion, as it is the criterion most often overlooked by Malaysian, particularly Chinese parents.
    • We live in a multi-racial country. It is my firm believe that for the country to succeed in its national integration goals, all ethnic groups must possess good understanding of each other in terms of culture, religion and common practices. Being Malaysians, national integration should be one of our key goals so that we are able to live in harmony with one another. I’d like my daughter to grow up with life-long friends of all races, not just to “stick” among our own racial group.

    • In addition, national integration allows for our children to pick up many necessary soft skills which will serve them well in both their social as well as occupational careers. If our children are able to integrate well with other ethnic groups, they would have naturally learnt to be tolerant of various social and cultural practices. More importantly, they will learn to accept that being “different” is not equivalent to being “better” or “worse”, a key distinction that is often neglected.

      I am often upset by fresh graduates whom during interviews would inadvertently express racially biased sentiments without realising it. I attribute the basis of their opinions largely to the fact that they have had few or little interactions with other racial groups, particularly during their years in education, despite living in our racially diverse community.

    • National integration in Malaysia would also mean that our child will have to be reasonably fluent in Bahasa Malaysia. I would like her to be able to converse fluently with her Malay friends in the language. I find that the verbal skills of most of the younger Chinese in the Malay language do not extend very much beyond making food orders at the corner mamak shops. This actually leads to further reasons for segregation amongst the Malaysian racial groups.

The above are our key criteria or yardstick which we will use to decide which school Xin Ying should attend. In my next post sometime during the week, I shall write on whether the national or the Chinese schools will be able to meet the criteria outlined above.


Anonymous said...

I have only 1 child and I decided to put him into an international school some 15 years ago. Although I'm not rich or well paid, my wife and I were willing to sacrfice as much as possible to ensure that English will be his thinking language. We were lucky that Malaysians were able to enrol in international schools then. We were both English educated and dared not risk that he might end up, language wise, as a master of none. I believe how wise one is depends to a great extent on the strength of his thinking language. Unfortunately Bahasa is a new and young language, and thus our decision to keep him away from the local curriculum. My son has just completed his A levels in a London school and has been accepted by Cambridge to do his undergraduate study this October. Although I'm really glad with his achievement my wife and I , now as retirees, shudder at the cost of his education. As a Malaysian Chinese I guess this is the price we all have to pay to give our children the best.

Anonymous said...

I wrote a brief entry about this at :

I think sending one's child to a Kebangsaan school is a wise choice. Sending one to an international school is a costly choice.

Anonymous said...

Are the Malaysian School's today whether National or Vernacular English Standard good enough for us to sent our children to study in them?

Anonymous said...

We got to ask ourselves how often do we use Bahasa Malaysia other than ordering food, dealing with government offices or plea with the MIB ;) ?

If one can tolerate preferential treatment towards a certain ethnic community written within the constitution of the country, then by all means all citizen of Malaysia has the rights to decide which education system shall one put his/her children into.

National Unity or Integration will not work when minorities have sacrifies in order to please the majority few.

Want to fix the National Unity problem ? start with admenment to constitution, whereby clauses on religion and ethnicity should be put in equal and level field !

Anonymous said...

Besides the International schools, which schools in Malaysia (Both Public & Private) provides the highest standard of English education?

Also which schools produces students with the highest English Literature scores in Malaysia?


--Old Man

Anonymous said...

Would it be easier for the world to learn Mandarin or for the Chinese to learn English?

Anonymous said...

It would be easier for the Chinese to learn English.

John Lee said...

ssnnooooppyy is absolutely correct. As someone from a national school with many Chinese school friends, I have had very similar experiences. In an SK school, there is no difference, whether you're Malay, Chinese or Indian. When I entered secondary school and discovered the racism of the government and those insulated from other races, I began to understand why SK schools are important for the future of the country. I have written a letter to Malaysiakini concerning them, and was quite surprised to read one vernacular school supporter's response.

I simply cannot fathom how people can deny vernacular schools are tearing our young apart. Perhaps it's just the real bond I felt with my Indian and Malay friends in primary school, but it's just, well, impossible for me to comprehend how someone can get angry over or deny implications that vernacular schools are detrimental to national unity. It's not khayalan; it's fact. Even my friends from Chinese schools are open about it. One who I discussed the matter with was quite surprised that people can't understand that insulation makes you less open to outsiders, and had no problem admitting Chinese school students have trouble relating with Indians and Malays.

That isn't to say Chinese schools are bad elsewhere, though. Academically, they are quite strong, although many SK schools are not much worser (and in secondary school, the top students I have seen are invariably from SK schools). Discipline-wise, yes, Chinese schools trump SK schools. But I believe national unity is a far more better thing, and that's why, if I stay in Malaysia, my kids will be going to SK schools, unless they really start to suck.

Actually, SK schools already suck. I had an unusually well-disciplined school (if lacking in academics), but some schools are quite worser off. And standards of English are abysmal, even more so in a typical secondary school. I've written a book based on my experiences - it just needs a bit more polishing, and it should be ready to publish. A 15-page excerpt is available online.

Anonymous said...

ek eleeeehhhh.....

Anonymous said...

I think if parents have the time to guide the children, they should send the children to a Chinese primary school. Provided that they speak to their children in good english since young and encourage reading etc.
no point sending them to a chinese school, and numerous tuition in order to make up for their lack of english proficiency. It robs their childhood. I'm from SK school and had a great childhood where i joined numerous activities, represented the school in sports with no tuition at all. In fact, i don't remember studying for UPSR at all
but during secondary school, i think parents should send 'em to a school where english is widely spoken. No point sending em to a school where chinese still mix among themselves and speaks mandarin & only mandarin.
Many of my friends who come form chinese primary schools speaks good english (some very good english) by the time they graduate in form 5.It's the matter of conversing in english frequently and having guts to speak it out even if it's bad(most of my chinese-ed friends in a local public uni refused to speak to me in english because of their grammatically wrong english, they either speak to me in mandarin or nothing at all)

Anonymous said...

I have 2 children. One was send to SJRK(C) while the other was sent to SRK. Both were sent to US for Universities studies. Both doing very well in their studies although the Chinese-ed elder daughter has poorer command of English. The daughter now works for a EU construction company in Singapore and the son who was an ASEAN Scholar now works as Actuary in KL. In hindsight, I would have sent both to SJRK(C). I find the boy who attended SRK tends to hold lesser Asian values compared to the daughter.

From a racial integration standpoint, because SJRK(C) virtually have no non-Chinese students, the students will have less chances of interacting with other races. But this does not ncessary make them racists.

From an economic standpoint, I will definitely agree that English is very important. But it will be a fallacy to think that learning an additional Language like Chinese will make the English lower. Children are able to learn as much as they are challenged.

I am fluent in Mandarin, English, Malay, Hokkien, Cantonese, and Teowchew. Having additional language ability really enrich my life. I am now learning Thai and Penang Hokkien and Teowchew really help in my studies.

Anonymous said...

It is certainly commendable for Tony to be anxious abt her 6-month-old daughter's future and I do believe that education will guide us throughout our lives. Thus I would like to contribute my ideas and try to persuade blogger and readers alike to re-think the superiority of sending a child to a national school. Furthermore, I feel that there is a general misunderstanding of Chinese Educated students that need much clarification.

Firstly, to lend myself as subject of experiment: I speak Mandarin at home and had learnt it formally for the first 18 years of my life. I attended a SRJK(C) and continued onto a SMK with a strong emphasis on teaching Chinese as a core subject. Even though I do not think that my English is perfect, I do not see how studying in a chinese school can be an impediment for me to learn English. Many of my Chinese educated friends are even more fluent than I am in English. You might also be surprised by how incredibly fluent my friends from China are in both English and Mandarin - which emphasizes my point, learning Mandarin formally doesn't stop you from learning English.

However, my learning of English is definitely not confined to the textbooks itself, because as most who have been through the national schooling system would know, it is simply insufficient. This simply highlights how our notions about national integration, our grasp of the English language and our mother tongue, our academic pursuits - all the criterias that are important to Tony - are learnt both formally and informally.

Although I am very much Chinese educated, I am largely against racism and am highly interested in cultural anthropology, but I am hardly an anomaly. As for my friends, consisting both of Chinese and English educated students, we all share racial jokes once in awhile, (who doesn't?) but that doesn't make us racist. The key is moderation and not to stereotype - just as I believe that chinese educated students should not be stereotyped to be incapable of speaking English and unable to integrate with counterparts of other ethnicity. Students fr national schools who have Malay or Tamil or Hindi or Hokkien or Cantonese as their mother tongues may not necessarily grasp english better than the Chinese educated. It very well depends as much on individual desire and family's standpoint.

Why I personally feel that you shld send your child to a Chinese school, if all the above criterias are important to you, is because the mother tongue is not that easily learnt solely from the confinements of the home. With so much influence from the media etc, it is much easier to pick up English informally than mandarin, unless of course if the family members themselves are very apt in their grasp of Mandarin already and are very dedicated to teach their child Mandarin. Moreover, I do not believe that it is simply sufficient to speak the language and write a few simple Chinese because there is much more to a language than the ability to read and write it. Especially when it comes to interest in participating in China's expanding economy. Doing business, is not just speaking the language, it is also about the 'culture'. The Chinese language is filled with proverbs and metaphors that is important in imparting values into a child. Unless of course, British/American values are more important to you?

It is actually disappointing to know that there are couples of this new era who are still hostile towards Chinese education when countries like Thailand and Singapore are progressively up-ing their Mandarin standards. Studying in the UK, I have seen caucasians who grind through elementary Chinese books with much effort because they know that learning the language of an influential country will open many doors. If your child has the opportunity to gain an edge by learning Mandarin since young, I believe that parents should not deprive him/her of it. Also, learning Mandarin properly has also the other benefit of oiling the engines for learning another Asian language - Japanese.

My last point - it is also saddening to know how ppl in Malaysia divide and segregate themselves from others just by their medium of language, stereotyping and demarcating between 'us' and 'them' just by the criteria of not being able to speak English? Or because they are thought to have certain values or behaviours that may be different. It is such generalizing statements that causes perpetual misunderstanding.

Anonymous said...


I went to a Convent primary and secondary school. There was no racial/religious lines drawn in primary school, and even though SRJK students came in for their secondary education, we didn't have any polarisation.

My first encounter with racial and religious prejudices was in a neighbourhood school where I studied Form 6. It was a valid cultural shock for me as I was used to interacting with schoolmates from all three major races.

It makes me wonder at the vast difference between my former school and my 'Form 6' school. Are neighbourhood schools a nurturing ground for racial and religious polarisation?

On another note, I come from an English-speaking home. My parents sent me for Chinese tuition in primary school, but I stopped at Std 5. Most of my Chinese has now disappeared due to lack of usage. None of my friends have irked me by calling me a 'banana'--even if they did, it was always in jest.

I admit that sometimes I forget if I'm Chinese, but why do I need to constantly remember that I'm Chinese when I want to be Malaysian? I know that there are many underlying implications and unresolved issues in saying that. Would it be possible that I bonded better with everyone else because I was found to be a 'neutral' English-educated student? Perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Not affected/influenced by business, opportunities or any other factors...

English race = English language
Malay race = Malay language
Japanese race = Japanese language
Chinese race = Chinese language

As simple as that...

It is indeed shameful when you bare a Chinese surname but do not know any Chinese.

Another thing is that, the Malaysian government doesn't even see us Chinese as Malaysians. Any reasonable person would know how they treat Chinese schools. They used it as a political thing. Yea, people send their children to SRK, and then what? That is why the number of students taking PMR and SPM Chinese language is so little. You might say because Chinese language's standard is very high and causes many students to fail. please remember that those Chinese private secondary school students are doing well even under a much higher standard. Chinese primary school --> Chinese private secondary school --> Chinese private college (like Newera) will only give you TRUE education. Go and actually see it for yourself.

But as a Chinese, the first 6 years of Chinese education is a must.

Anonymous said...

I totally agreed with the argument that every chinese must at least have six years of chinese education. Personally I do not agree to send my kids to international school at the primary level just because want to master in English, as you still can learn english even you are stufy in the local school. Remember, do not be proud if you are fluent in English and it is really shameful if you know nothing in Chinese ('banana' man).

pixiepixie said...

I am from a chinese school myself. I'd advise you to give your daughter the freedom to choose.
Take note and put importance on the language that she is best in. If her family communicates with her in English throughout her childhood, then it's best to send her to an international school if money is not a problem. For an example, I was good in English when I was little, but my father decided to send me to a Chinese school so that I could learn another language. It's not that I'm totally foreign to Chinese, I do speak Mandarin with my family members, but it wasn't as natural to me as speaking English. When I went to a Chinese primary school, I had trouble in keeping up with studies especially in Chinese. Do take note that most chinese schools go into double time a lot. And they have tons of homework. I do agree that chinese schools are strict and the students are very diciplined. But there're also disadvantages in sending your daughter to a Chinese school. For instance, my current high school (chinese) is planning to wipe out the Arts course that we used to always have. They tend to supress the students' creativity and push them into devoting their time to more "standard" subjects like Math, Science and so on. I'm even beginning to think that our Commerce classes will slowly be decreasing from year to year. Probably after 3 or 4 years, students will be forced to take only Science Stream in my school.

The point is, it all depends on YOUR CHILD. it's fine to send her to a Chinese primary school, because I believe students need dicipline when they're in their early ages. But if you don't see any interest or improvement in her Chinese language, it's best you take note of that and send her to a different school. No offence to anyone here but what I heard from Malay schools were their teachers weren't proffesional enough. Some of them do not pay attention to the students' acedemical conditions at all.

If you are afraid of your daughter being a chinese and cannot speak or write in chinese, she can always learn chinese in later stages of her life IF she developes an interest in it. It's like some people who are interested in learning Japanese, French and so on, would go to these foreign language classes when they're in uni or college because they have an interest in it. You can also hire a tutor to teach your daughter Chinese if you feel that she needs to learn it. By doing that, she wont have any pressure in the subject because some chinese schools put a lot of importance to pass the Chinese language exams.

Don't lead your daughter in the wrong direction, I have experienced this before. I am not good in Chinese now, and never will be, I constantly fail my Chinese in school, the only thing i want to drope is Chinese in my SPM but taking the Chinese subject in SPM is mandatory in my school. All my other subjects are fine, and because my parents did not listen to me when I said I couldn't study Chinese in primary school, they still asked me to continue studying it in high school. Now the only thing that would stain my SPM result is Chinese.

Anonymous said...

I went through Chinese primary and secondary school.

I find that in addition to be able to speak, read and write a language that is getting more significant due to the raise of China as an economic power, I got in touch with the philosophy of those ancient Chinese scholars - Han Fei Zhi, Lao Zhi, Kang Yo Wei etc. As s secondary school study, one is exposed to some cultured thinking which may be still relevant today.

Not to mention those great chinese books - water margin, for example.

I am proficient in 3 languages and able to read widely and more opinions here and there better.

I don't believe that by learning in Chinese, national unity is at stake. There were never any element that encouraged us to be isolationist. We sang Negaraku and all those songs. We interacted with other schools via various competitions etc.

To have true national unity, lets look at our economic, social, political policies that in theory and practice, pretty much race-based.

True, Chinese school students are much loaded with work, less open-minded but I would prefer our students to be more disciplined.

Being lousy in English is also due to the fact most of the parents are non-english conversant as well.

I think Chinese schools need to update their teaching strategy and place more emphasis on project work & less on exams and improving proficiency in other languages. It will be hard on the students but coming from there, I know we can be a pretty tough bunch of young nuts!

thquah said...

I sent both my kids to SRKC in their primary. I can say they are doing very well in English and Bahasa. I am glad I did that for them because I was not given a chance to go to a SRKC.
Chinese who cannot speak Mandarin is a shamful thing especially if we go to China( like me)

Anonymous said...

Generally speaking, chinese high school students have better grasp of maths and science subjects. Moreover, some chinese high schools do teach science suject in multi-languages (mandrine and english for the UEC, and malay for the government exams). So, if parents are planning to send their children overseas some day, it is better off letting their children to learn in the chinese high school environment.

Anonymous said...

The argument that a Chinese MUST speak Chinese is silly and should not be used a reason as to why a child should be sent to a Chinese school.

Firstly, there are many other avenues for one to pick up the language; be it at home, from tuition, or self-taught.

Next, how does one rate his/her proficiency in the language? What constitutes good Chinese? To be able to read, write, speak, a combination of the three? How about people who very fluent in 4 dialects but cannot read at all? Are they considered "worse off" than those who can read very well but can only speak Mandarin?

A bit of background. I am Chinese, that is my race. Nonetheless, I am Malaysian by birth but my command of the Malay language is limited to, as some have stated, "mamak-stall usage". My primary and secondary schooling was completed in an international school, hence my almost zero command of the Malay language. I attended Mandarin tuition at night twice a week and managed to make it to Primary 6 level.

At the end of the day, it is all about the experiences you pick up from your formative schooling years and how you use them in your later years.

Determine what you want from sending your child to school, evaluate the possible options, and choose the one that will satisfy your requirement(s).

Fair enough?

These days, the choice is made more difficult with international schools now allowed to accept Malaysians, and the proliferation of private schools which follow the national curriculum. Which is the better option?

I heard that up to 10% of certain Chinese schools are made up of Malays so learning different cultures isn't an issue.

Anonymous said...

i am so dissapointed with our government especially ministry of education....they decided to teach math& science in english as one way of vanishing bahasa melayu our very own bahasa rasmi but now they plan to import teachers from China just to teach Chinese here, the same thing goes to tamil as well...i hope malays would realize this before we r too late and lost our mother toungue

Anonymous said...

It is such astonishing for me to read up the opinion about Chinese school student.I think there are a lots of stereotype bias and prejudice about Chinese primary school. It is understandable,since the chinese stream and non-chinese stream never really have chance to understand each other.

I myself came from Chinese Primary School during 70s - 80s, and have the secondary education in SK school from 80s - 90s. I feel more happy in Chinese primary school. It give me a feeling of home. While SK school always make me feel stick under others people'r roof. But later I change to another SK secondary school, which has more chinese there, I feel much better. From that time, I am doing very well in academic and curriculum. I also make friend with malays. There was a malay boy very brilliant in playing guitar. I think he is very romantic. Others Chinese classmate also form some guitar group, they play guitar, harmonica a lots. Of course now, most of the youngest will be be more keen on "rap" rather than wood guitar, interesting in handphone music more than singing.

My experiance in Chinese Primary School is quite happy. There are basket ball teams, girl guide team etc formed in school, and art performance parties have been held in shcool from times to times. There are also musical curriculum activities in school. You can hear student playing clarinet or harmonica in the school during afternoon. I don't have talent in doing art performance,sports or dancing, but I do have talent in writing,I always got chances to display my articles on board when I was a child. I doesn't really feel much pressure as primary school student, I also have enough time to play, and have enough time to wandering my imagination world during primary school period.

Of course that is long time ago. I am now a writer. I write novel, of course in Chinese language. Due to the deep love of literature,I keep on writing from my young day until now. I graduate from USM. The best thing that I have gain were a lots of literature award. I am now in Taiwan doing my master in Chinese Literature, specially in Tang Dynasties literature. I want to learn more about how is the Chinese poetry had been going through in the past. I found that I knew too little about it. And I feel such grateful that this language has been passing down from a generation to a generation. It is unique and marvellous. It is a migic that open up my sky and life secret. I feel I am lucky because to be able to read up them.

Is it means that I am only "indulge" in my own "Chinese language" culture,"Chinese group",and became typical racism person? I don't think so. I read a lot American literature novel -many of those were read up in their original language, English,such as Kurt Vonnegurt, Nathanael West,Lorrie Morrie,William Foulkner bla bla bla etc. As for the Malay language (Whom the previous blogger guest said this language only used to order food and deal with government), I read the novel,such as Shahnon Ahmad, Ranjau sepanjang Jalan. I found out about Ranjau sepanjang Jalan during SK secondary shool period, but FROM MY CHINESE PRIMARY SCHOOOL TEACHER. She is a chinese stream lady.Her mother tougue and thinking language is Chinese.But She know how to appreciate others language's work. I don't think most of the English stream or SK stream read as much as I did, either in the Chinese,English or Malay language. I read them because they are all gifts from beautiful mind.

For the most racism person as I know, it should be Khairy who keep on stir up topics like "The Penang Government neglect Malay". Umno Youth keep on raise up the question like "Chinse not loyalty to Nation", bla bla bla something like that. They can raise up any question they want, but others races has to be quiet and shut up about the same issue. Doesn't it like having a football only by one team? I don't know what is the criterion they use for the judgement -"loyalt"??? I don't know how come a group of people who greeeeedy in curruption can claim they love their country. I don't know who did more racial discrimination here. Of course these person are not coming from Chinse primary school.

Logically, it should not only Chinese Primary School produce racism, the SK school also produce a lots racism,too.

I think the racism problem has to do much with our government policy. I feel very angry for the Malay dominant potilical situation when I was in University. During my forth year, my father pass away, I can't get any loan or financial aid from University. My family income was less than RM1000 per month by then. My mother has to raise up 6 kids. Imagine I couldn't get any financial aid even I am half "yatim piatu" just because I am not Bumiputra! That's when I hate the "Bumiputra" policy, and the "ideal" so call "National". If you feel that Chinese vernacular Students are "racism", probably it is because they are too sensitive about the absent from government resource pancake, that's about everything: education,sholarship,the professor grade dedication, cultural, broadcasting, drama production funding, Movie production funding, School funding etc. YES,We are very, very, very sensitive about the NEGLECTION.

Ask : why do you think sending child to International school is better? Isn't it because when the time came, grab the chance to move to others country who don't discriminate your races in competing those resource will be much much better?

Truth: I am now in Taiwan. I miss malaysia MaMak stall , roti canai and Cha Koey teow very much. Malaysia is a food paradise. I wish to go back every day if I can have chance offered teaching job in our University, teaching Chinese literature.

Strange: I may well be offered chances to teach chinese literature in Taiwan, US, England or in France Oriental Institution, But NOT In MALAYSIA although it claim the nation is formed by three races Malay, Chinese and Indian. Others civilization are more intelligent in respecting the DIFFERENCES.

Fact: there is less than 10% of Chinese Lecturer teaching in University in Malaysia.

Fact: there are 25 % of Chinese in Malaysia, 10-20% of Indian in Malaysia.

Tell me who is more racist here?

"Nation" is a lie, it is illusion that cast on every one of us, in order to wipe out the DIFFENRENCE, instead of Diversity. How many times we make decision because to promote the "Nation" ideal in our life? The genuine answer should be : Not Even Once. We are only human.

By the way,I do have friends in Malay and Indian, but I associated with them because I feel that person is cute, sincere, or amazingly creative,funny, interesting or touching my heart. It came from privacy experiance.Not because the name of "Nationality promotion".

Indonesian have been discriminate and acting violent to Chinese for many years. Recently, they change their BUMIPUTRA definition, BUMIPUTRA definition has include THE CHINESE WHO BORN IN INDONESIA. They are sharing the same resourse like others now. And the surprise thing is, Indonesia government set up Chinese language department in Indonesia University at the same time. They accept Chinese as part of them with the TABOO of language relieved.

The old wisdom said : REAL Communication and understanding only arise when there are no repression.

Anonymous said...

I am currently an undergraduate student studying at overseas. I am quite satisfied and happy with the decision my parents have made for me.

I was sent to a chinese primary school. It's a good decision as I think we chinese should at least know how to read and write chinese. Furthermore, chinese (mandrin) is getting more important as china is slowly dominating the world. In fact, a lot of people are learning chinese now.

Next, I was sent to a Malay school ( a government school). It was quite hard for me at first, as evertyhing was taught in Bahasa. But needless to say, my Bahasa imporved a lot. I also started mixing around with non-chinese people, which i think is very important in Malaysia, as Malaysia is a multi-national country. You Have to hang out with people form different races. Moreover, it is always good to know another language.

Currently, I am in Australia, an english speaking country. Thus, I believe when one is in an english speaking country, one's english wil automatically improve. So, yeah... i can now speak three languages fluently. However, I might not be VERY good at English or Very good at Chinese. But i can still read, write and understand all three languages without any difficulties. I've seen some of my friends who regretted for not learning chinese when they were young, which I think is kinda sad.

Anonymous said...

I have to say your thoughts are incredibly rare, noble nonetheless and your sensitive insights on Malaysian multiculturalism give warmth to our hearts.

And I agree to the importance of mastering several languages in line with the Malaysian aspiration. In fact, Malaysians irrespective of ethnic origins should at least have three different languages, with Malay and English being of great importance. But ideally (which I doubt will ever came into realisation), all Malaysians should one day be conversant in Malay, English, Chinese and Tamil. Imagine the truly Malaysian culture borne out of this. It'll be amazing.

Being only Malay and English-speaking, I think I should whip myself into learning the other languages first before preaching to anyone else. hahaha.


Anonymous said...

hey, another Montfort boy! i went to montfort, but at night, i was put through nite classes at Cheng Siu to learn chinese.

btw, if you miss your old school, you can view the pictures at this website:

Anonymous said...

It's kind of harsh to call chinese who don't understand chinese 'bananas'. ok,ok i don't read and write chinese but i speak mandarin and hokkien. Do send your children to sk school but make sure they are fluent in chinese and vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, this author believes that if one wishes to speak Chinese, to think Chinese and to act Chinese - one should go back to China.

If one wishes to live in Malaysia and make full use of the opportunities open to citizens of this land, one should see oneself as Malaysian first, last and always.

All vernacular schools should be extinguished.

Anonymous said...

I have studied in Chinese primary school and national secondary, high school and university before.

I waste a lot of my time to catch-up in Malay language during national secondary and high school because my mother tongue is Chinese.

In University (1986-1990), I also spent a lot of time study English because I studied accountancy, which has very little English references. In order not to wasting my time to translate English references to Malay, I choose to answer all exams in English.

After graduated with accountancy degree and working in commercial, I found that English is the major language used in all fields. Finance, business, technology, IT... all are communicated using English. I hardly use Malay either speaking or writing.

However, those accountants with Chinese language background are highly demand in international market. Malaysian working in Hong Kong and China are very common now and they are well pay.

According to my experience in the commercial market, you need to have a good degree and master more than one language in order to be more competitive in international market.

However, to learn Chinese language you need to start early as Chinese is a picture language. Children can catch-up a picture language faster than alphabet. I am able to read Chinese novel after 4 years of study in Chinese primary so as my children.

English is vocal languages that need to use frequently as it is difficult to master because it has multiple meanings for the same word and different tenses base on the environment.

I hope the above will help you all to make decision to your children education.


SH Toh

Anonymous said...


I studied at a Convent school, and I must say I do not, and have not, ever regretted for not going to a Chinese school, thus I am unable to speak well in my mother tongue or read or write at all (in Chinese). Going to a Convent school and taking English lessons have been vital to my success in education. I migrated to an English-spoeaking country during my secondary schooling years, and I fitted in rather well, based on literary and communication grounds, with the exception of the accent I have retained during my years at Malaysia. English is an important language--We use it everywhere: school, internet, books..etc etc. We cannot escape globalisation. I have to admit, being unable to read or write or speak much of Chinese is a disadvantage: I cannot watch Chinese dramas or eavesdrop!!^^

I am still a high school student, a good English student--thanks to my education in a Convent school.

stROZze said...

I agree with you that vernacular schools are detrimental to Malaysia unity. When we talk about unity, there must be a common thing. If some Chinese would say that they send their children to Chinese school because of government 'biasness towards certain races', I also don't think they would send their children to SK once this 'biasness' removed. Of course, having education in one's own mother tongue language is preferred.

In my opinion, the government should have started this in the past - close all vernacular schools (just like what Singapore did), open only national schools and make it compulsory for Chinese to learn Mandarin and Indian to learn Indian languages (Tamil, Hindi etc.) in national schools. This is the same concept as for those people in Borneo where they learn in national language but can take own languages such as Kadazan-Dusun and Iban. Then, there will be no more someone calling somebody 'banana'.

Now the situation has worsened, added by those who send their children to international schools. Remember language is used to communicate to each other. If all people prefer to use their own language, how can we all talk to each other and promote unity?

Indonesia and Thailand have done good job on this by having one language for all. But I don't agree that they also don't allow their people to learn mother tongue language in school such as Chinese esp. in Java island and Malay in Southern Thailand.

Those Malaysian who can't speak national language, what can differentiate you and a foreign tourist who comes here? It's your ability to speak national language. No harm mastering national language as we here are also not forbidden to speak our own mother tongue language, if it's not national language. Those who resides in France, English-speaking countries such as US, UK, Australia have the ability to speak national/majority language there, why don't Malaysian?

In Malaysia case, only Bahasa can be used to communicate with all type of people. English is not widely spoken especially in rural areas. Leave Manglish alone as it only ruins all languages that it borrows words from. Mandarin can't be used as it's only spoken by less than 14% of its people and is difficult to learn. Hey, let's go back to Constitution, Bahasa is national language! This is what has been agreed. Furthermore, this is an easy language - remember a Russian won the world's BM debate recently.

Sometime, I pity those who need translation into English when filling in MyKad form or to apply passport... Weird - no other countries have this situation except Malaysia...

My point is that learn as many languages as you can in order to communicate well to all sort of people and promote interaction among all. I call it an idiot who choose not to learn something which can be easily practised here - to master Bahasa. We all know knowledge is power. Learn from cradle to grave.

Haryani Zakaria said...

So far based on the comments posted, are there any malay parents here?

I'm asking because I am a Malay parents who's thinking on sending my eldest boy in 2010 to chinese school.

My main reason is because I want my son to have another additional language (other than Malay & English). I used to go to SK school last time and were sent to Mandarin tuition by my parents. But I didn't master my mandarin since I didn't use it frequently. It's not because I don't have Chinese friends (I do, infact most of friends are Chinese but Chinese friends who go to SK school do not speak Mandarin regularly..) I don't know why but they claimed that they are shy to speak or only speak at home.

I really hope that more parents who send their child to Chinese school (especially among the malays) would share their experience in this blog.

Last but not least thank you to Xin Ying's parents who posted such a valuable matter worth debating.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Depend on yourself where you should send your child...
Im chinese....finished Chinese primary school,National secondary school...

Anonymous said...

Well I am currently teaching in one of the university in Malaysia and I find that students who are from SMJK are usually very hardworking and diligent and very respectful towards the lecturers but unfortunately they are the type that are unable to think for themselves eventhough they have a glowing SPM or STPM result but they are unable to critically analysed items or text thus have problems when they are in Uni. The way the schools teach is very traditional in my opinion and their accent is pretty strong in their mother tongue and they are not proficient in English.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a mother of four Malay kids. All of them now in SJKC. The eldest is now in Standard Six, the youngest in same Chinese pre-school (6 years old). My first and youngest both are the top student in their classes. The other two are in the ranged of 100 out of 500 students. They are all good in both Science/Math either in English or Chinese (excluding the youngest one). They don't go for any tuition; just depending on their concentration in class (thanks to great teachers). Surprisingly many of their friends failed in both Science/Math when it is in English. Either me or hubby-none of us speak Mandarin and so-so English.

My conclusion is, a concentration of one student and guidance from parents are a must!

Well, why I sent them to Chinese school? Firstly, I realized that when I was studying Japanese language, it was so hard to memorize how many strokes it should be (kanji/chinese character). Those students from Taiwan for instance, can easily score the subject. But, I can proudly announce that I managed to get Deans List in every semester for the subject and it was my minor degree.

After coming back to M'sia, I worked in Japanese company. But, this Japanese (though they are proud of their native language), they always wanted to speak English (Japlish). 10 years working in the company, I ruined my Japanese and also English!

But, morale of the story is-we can only master in language if we regularly speak in that language. If Mandarin is speaking-able everywhere in M'sia and also in the world, why prioritize other foreign language?

Personally, I think Mandarin is very hard to learn compare to English or Japanese. The hanyin-pingin itself drives me crazy pronouncing it. But, my experienced in foreign language such as Japanese, made me always wanted my kids to strive for additional language i.e. Mandarin.

Dear all, it is actually, either Malay enters a Chinese school, or Chinese enter SK (no Malay school), most important thing is our guidance at home. Do encourage them and tell them positive things behind many 'politician' issues about racism. At the same time, remind them of our country's history and what is our economic is depending on (for their future). Be realistic and always value others.

I think it is time to introduce Mandarin as an option language in SK/SMK. In this way, Chinese can comfortably/securely their native language while also mastering National language. Be proud being Malaysian who can speak BM and other M'sian's major speaking language. Malaysia boleh!

Anonymous said...

It's a tough choice but I was a National school product and I chose to send both my kids to SRJKC. I feel a little bit of disciplin will not hurt them and the horror stories from acquaintances about SRK school teachers attitude made me glad I made the right choice.

PJ Boy said...

I am a 15 year old in an SMK who went to a Chinese primary school. I do believe that Chinese school would be a better choice being able to learn another language and having a higher standard or Mathematics and Science. I never really found the discipline excessive although i was caned twice a week, I even got used to it. My parents came from English school and were adamant to send me to a chinese school 20 minutes away although we had an SK literally in front of our house. I still consider English as my first language and i am quite weak in Chinese, everything depends on the parents to make sure their children learn proper English which isn't much better in SK schools.

Unknown said...

Been reading your posts and would like your opinions on our situation........

We are an Australian family living in Singapore. Our 5 year old has been in a bilingual local school for 4 years and her mandarin is very good even though we cannot speak it.

We are moving to KL and would like her to attend a Chinese school as we wish for her to continue with her Mandarin. Placing her in a Malay local school would be too much of a change due to mother tongue language.

We decided to send our daughter to a local school when we first moved to Singapore as we wish for our children to be immersed into the culture of the country we are living in. We also believe Mandarin is a language that will benefit our kids in the future.

Another factor was also cost...we do not believe you get value for money sending young kids to UK/American International schools, the fees are enormous and certainly unjustified. Our daughter has received a brilliant education in the Singapore local system thus far.

Which Chinese schools local/private do you believe to be a reasonable fit for our daughter based on what I have written? She commences Primary 1 next year.

What are also considered to be the "top" Chinese schools in KL?


Anonymous said...

I am a Malay, i believe learning additional language is an added advantage so i sent my daughter to SKJC. She after all the hard work she did well in her UPSR exam.Sadlly to say our education system nowadays does not recognise the hardwork done by student from SKJ. After the UPSR result was out I try to enroll my daughter to Sekolah Berasrama Penuh the officer at the education office told me it is the waste of my time. The SBP only for student from goverment school.No matter what is the result the SJK and private school student will not be accepted. This is the policy she says when i asked further.

mom2ashleyaidan said...

your daughter should be 5yo now like mine and it's time to register them for primary 1. Which school did you choose?

Anonymous said...

it's been 5 years since the author started this thread.

just wondering where's part 3? I'm in the same dilemma and i need to make a decision soon.

Anonymous said...

I will suggest u to put ur child in a private school that teaches the national syllabus it's because students in private schools speaks English among each another n private schools usually provide mandarin classes but the standard of their mandarin is usually not as good as the Chinese schools

Anonymous said...

I would suggest that you enrol your child in a national school which places more emphasis on English (ie CBN, MBS etc) if your child's fluency in English is your major concern. I have also seen greater racial integration and generally, more open-mindedness to others in national schools. On the other hand, one should never ignore one's fluency in one's mother tongue. It gives a sense of cultural identity to the child (believe me, this may seem petty in the 'globalised' world, but this is very very important), allowing them to be a part of a community while at the same time is able to integrate with the world.
Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

The idea that "chinese schools are racists" is just a stereotype,I have been educated under a fusion of western and eastern education and I have attended SJK (C) and SMJK (c),from what I see,almost 60% of the national top scorers come from SMJK,the standard is very high,another point i would be extremely eager to make a debut on is CHINESE SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE WEAK IN ENGLISH AND BAHASA,well,I scored band 8.5/9 in IELTS and I am one of the 9 students who got band 6 in MUET,if you are chinese,appreciate your mother tongue,respect it,you can be a native mandarin speaker and still excel in our second language,all it takes is hard work.SPEAK YOUR OWN MOTHER TONGUE