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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chinese School, Kebangsaan School or Private School?

Its that time of the year again to register school going children for primary school and parents are faced with the same dilemma again. Wanna know what the dilemma is? Go and read the following links.

From Parenting Times: Chinese School or National School?
From Double Happiness: Chinese School or National School? and School, Which, What School?
From Khong Family: Education Costings , Education Worries Pt 1 and Education Worries Pt 2
From Montesorri Mum: Education Worries and Education
From Weaving Linguine: In Favour of Childhood
From MarshaMaung.com: Do my homework for me, Mom!
From Family Place's Education and Learning Link: Dilemma, Please Help!
From United Subang Jaya Web Forum: Non-Chinese in Chinese Schools

Note: If you have written a blog post about this and would like to be linked here, please send me your link. Thank you.

I thought I had it all thought out. At first I wanted to send my kids to Chinese school to learn a third language but many warned me about how tough it was going to be. These were some of the comments that deterred me.

"You're going to regret it and feel extremely stressed if your child cannot cope and comes to you for help but you can't help them." (because I don't know Chinese)

"The teachers and heads of Chinese schools are very tyranical. You either take it or leave it and you just do as you are told. There is no discussion."

"Their way of discipline is walking around with a cane."

"There will be a tremendous amount of homework and your child will not have any free time for anything else."

"The classes are overflowing. There are 15 Standard One classes at my child's school. Your child won't get the attention unless they are in the top few classes. There is overpopulation in the Chinese schools."

"You must send your kids for at least 2 years preschool to prepare for Chinese schooling or you can forget it. Your child will be lost and miserable." (Because we don't know and don't speak Mandarin at home)

"Your child is brought up in such an angmoh style she will find it hard to survive in the Chinese School environment."

Blah blah blah blah. There's lots more but I won't put it all here. I think you know the drift. So I decided to send my kid to kebangsaan school but I was disappointed when I went to register my kid for Primary One at the nearest school. The school premise was small. No school field or proper hall. Just an open canteen with a stage at the end to pass off as an assembly place. When the bell rang for recess, I was surprised to see the kids sitting on the floor to have their meal because there weren't enough chairs and tables. And nearby this school is a spanking new school building, big and beautiful BUT it is abandoned because I heard it is unsafe for occupation and about to be torn down. I feel angry and sad whenever I pass by the new unoccupied school. Its such a waste of public funds. I did not register my child that day. Now, I am disillusioned and worried. Have I made the right decision?

There are only one or two small primary schools nearby with a small population of students, probably only 2-4 Standard One classes but there are several secondary schools in the area. So where do parents send their kids? To Chinese Schools and private schools (if you can afford it and prepared to travel the distance if its not in your housing estate). Many of my friends and relatives have chosen these options. Chinese primary school followed by Private School or further Chinese Secondary school. It would seem that no one wants to attend kebangsaan school anymore, not even for secondary education. Whats happening? Is it so different now compared to our times? I was from Kebangsaan school all the way and I didn't think it was so bad.

The private schools are expensive and far but those parents who can afford to send their kids seem happy with their choice because of the facilities and opportunities that their kids are being given. However, will this create a spoilt brat syndrome, I am worried but of course that is the least of my worries. Cost and travel is on top of the list so thats out and the choice is between Chinese and Kebangsaan.

My child who is 5 this year is still not attending any kindergarden yet. Is it too late to send her for Chinese school? I only have a few more weeks to decide as registration is only till the end of the month. So what do I do now? I am really at a loss? Sigh! Any comments appreciated.

The following are past comments from my old post which were lost in Haloscan Fortunately I saved them in my Gmail so I shall post them here for easier reference.

Previous Comments

There are pro and cons for both type of schools. Anyway, if I were you, I would send my children to Chinese school, as the teachers are able to discipline my children better than me. They learn self discipline and its very important for my kids not to be banana. Besides, studying in Chinese school has higher probability of learning a minimum of 3 languages - Chinese, Malay and English. Then when comes to secondary school, can send my kids to SMK, then my kids can socialize with different culture, especially the Malays and Tamils. But still, they have the basic roots of being a Chinese and yet experiencing the multi racial society. However, it depends on your living place too. My hometown basically has nearly like 70% above Chinese population, so......
Jason Homepage 03.11.05 - 12:52 pm #


to begin with, i was being sent to a national school since primary and my chinese are all self learned. but that is not the point. the point is, there are indeed pros and cons in attending either of the school system. however, please take note, Malaysia is the only country outside CHINA(excluding Taiwan I suppose) with a proper chinese education system from primary till secondary and high school... so you can judge how well our chinese education is actually doing...
Mossie`Ol Chin Homepage 03.11.05 - 1:46 pm #


I went to a National School but I took Chinese classes at night. Willingly.

The Chinese language is now more and more important because you now only use it within to country. You also converse in this language outside Malaysia as well.

It's also an advantage when applying for a job. No point being a banana while working in an IT firm full of mandarin speaking people. Especially your boss. If don't even know how to ask for bonus, lagi chun. Wahaha.
JxT2J Homepage 03.11.05 - 1:52 pm #


Mrs B and I are planning to send our kids to chinese school, at least for primary level. Both of us are also "banana" people, hence don't want our kids to loose out, especially with china opening up.
buaya69 Homepage 03.11.05 - 3:47 pm #


it's noteworthy to mention that a child risks becoming semilingual (instead of multilingual) if he doesn't a have strong foundation in at least one of the languages he knows. it's always best to evaluate the child's command of language before enrolling him to a primary school which uses a language unfamiliar to him (but easy to take up).

if the child is already fluent in english by the time of kindergarten, i think it's good to send him to an SJK(C). otherwise, better not because the child will end up speaking rojak with his mind all messed up with different languages.
MunKit Homepage 03.11.05 - 5:07 pm #


I think Chinese school better choice loh, or else the kids will don't know how to speak chinese.

Some of my fren feel very "pai se", cause they don't know how to write and read chinese.
mrkiasu Homepage 03.11.05 - 5:12 pm #


my father is a banana while my mother was chinese educated. my hometown consist of more than 80% of malays (there's a SK and SMK near my house. only 10 minutes walking distance). but my mother insisted of sending her two children to chinese school because she believe that a chinese should know his/her mother tongue.

chinese school as known, always have classes packed with about 50 or more each. hence, student don't get much attention. So, it all depends on how the child discipline his/herself.

homeworks as usual, a lot. but personally, i always managed to finish them and go to bed before 10:30 pm. maybe by telling your child to try and finish as much h/w as he can at school can help. my mother once complained to the form teacher of my sister when she was in standard 1 that the teacher was giving them too much h/w until my sister need to do them until the wee hours. but it turned out that my sister was chatting with her classmates when they were given time to do their h/w.

not that i want to be prejudice, but it seems that children attending chinese school gets better result for Math compared to those attending national school.

and about what Jason mentioned about multi racial society, there's lots of malays and indians in chinese school now. so, not to worry.
torpor Homepage 03.11.05 - 5:16 pm #


I'm from the National stream but my mum forced me into taking private mandaring lessons for 10 years so I'm not left out with my Chinese. I know of some of my mum's friends who sent their kids to Chinese school. Their kids can't cope because the crazy amount of homework. So, they end up pulling them out from SRJK(C) to a private school where the homework is less and the quality of education is supposedly to be better.
But I think National school is good enough together with some private mandarin lessons just like I did. But then again..a little warning. Some kids just can't take mandarin lessons especially if their parents don't speak it all at home. I am fortunate because my mum was from Chinese school so she could converse with me in mandarin and helped me with my mandarin homework.
GOod luck in choosing the right schools. A school decides what kinda person your child turns out to be.
p.s. i also blogged somethng about education yesterday..hehe
Cherry Homepage 03.11.05 - 5:15 pm #


Simon said...

u know what, i facing the same problem! but i'm more inclined to send them to chinese school...since no tamil schools in my area :)


i am software provider for both chinese(CS) and national school(NS). Frankly speaking, i think that the HM for chinese school all very money minded. Here in JB if you want your kid to study in good CS you have to pay enterance fees ie RM1000 and above. They ask you pay this pay that aka donation. Teacher are also the same all try to finish the syllabus, always rush the students. Poor kids. NS HM all don't care attitude, teacher always busy with thier own things. Our malaysia education system very bad. Our MOE also blur like sotong!
monstor 03.11.05 - 5:24 pm #


My parents are "bananas" so my Daddy wanted so much to put me into Chinese school so that I could read the Chinese newspapers and explain it to him. Mummy was very worried, because she wouldn't be able to teach me if I couldn't cope. She actually registered me in two schools, one National, one Chinese. I was in the National school for a week(Primary 1) before I transfered to Chinese school because I wasn't used to it as my kindergarten..was also a Chinese kindergarten.

I'm still grateful that my parents send me to Chinese school. It really does make a difference..like how you can read, write..listening to Chinese songs and you would be able to appreciate Chinese history better. It is always an added advantage to learn more languages.

So...send your little darlings to Chinese school!
Grace Homepage 03.11.05 - 6:43 pm #


ohhhhhh.. *sakit kepala* i've a fren in primary sch (from sheffield uk) who didnt even understand basic mandrain but now could speak rather fluently.

MunKit Homepage 03.11.05 - 7:27 pm #


I was sent to National School since primary cos my dad is a banana althou my mum is chinese-educated.
But,i do know how to speak mandarin fluently althou dunno how to read all those chinese characters.Able to read chinese is definitely better especially when eating in hawker centers as they always write their menu in chinese.So,whenever i go to hawker centers,my mum or my cousins have to tell me what's sold there & order for me.
Who says students from Chinese school cannot cope with Malay Language in National Secondary school?!I have a few friends from chinese school but they did well too,not only in Malay Language but also other subjects.Some even do better than us,who r from National School.Sigh..
One life example around us is MunKit.
*MK,i know u r reading this,go & kembang lah.Don't say i bully u again,ok?I praise u leh*
But if u really send ur children to National School,make sure they go for extra chinese classes too(like JxT2J).Last time,my mum forced me to go for chin
tEo 03.11.05 - 8:44 pm #


Last time,my mum forced me to go for chinese classes at night but i refused.Sigh..now only i regret.
tEo 03.11.05 - 8:47 pm #


Well, my wife and I are banana but we managed to sent both our kids to CS Primary. Both are doing very well especially the eldest boy who is now in Chung Ling High School and my daughter is in secondary Malay medium.( she was not too excellent in Mandarin) What matter most is at least they can speak an extra language not like me who cannot speak Mandarin. Its a big handicap in the working and business world.Let them struggle young and by secondary they will be OK.I wished my parents would sent me to CS but again I don't know wheather I can Make it.LOL.
thquah Homepage 03.11.05 - 8:56 pm #


I was in CS and very thank you to my mom that send me to CS. I know my english not so good but better then no nothing. I atlest got learn extra language, and i know now a day many company need chinese edu ppl so if got chinese edu was an advantage to get a job.

I got some friend which in Natinal school dunno chinese, but they want to sing chinese song need us to translate to them. When go karaoke, too bad.. mostly we can sing the popular chinese song they cant do that.

My hubby already make arrangement that our kids will go CS next time, we can teach them h/w and we talk to them in english so they can learn more. I think they speck english at home can help them improve their english then they can speck manderin with their friend and my ILs.
1+2mom Homepage 03.12.05 - 12:00 am #


My parents sent me to CS and I remember me crying in school because I couldn't understand a single word everyone was saying. I was a banana until 6 years old. I'm glad that my parents sent me to CS. I know an extra language and managed to pick up a few dialects too.

Life in CS is busier than Malay school. Teachers gave us extra tuition classes in the afternoon months before UPSR. I thought it was very nice of them.

With regards to donations, CS are not 100% government funded. To have a better environment, the school has to raise funds. So that explains the donations.
Eileen Homepage 03.12.05 - 1:07 am #


" With regards to donations, CS are not 100% government funded. To have a better environment, the school has to raise funds. So that explains the donations." -Eileen

I agree with eileen about this but do you know how much does the HM earn beside thier salary. Books are 40% per set,canteen food are free and computer software $ 1.20 per student into HM pocket. Just imagine a normal CS would be a least 1000 student and above. In jb there are almost 100K CS student in johor. I am not saying all but i have seen some.
monstor 03.12.05 - 8:38 am #

i'm from a chinese primary sch.. and i'm glad that i have attended it. since MG is english-speaking it would be good for the child as they get exposure to both languages.

i think english is far more important; but being able to speak and read chinese in an advantage.

I regretted very much not sending my kids to Chinese school jus bcoz I was afraid tht I can't help them with their homework. Stupid, coz now they will miss out on learning Mandarin unless I send them for Mandarin classes. Mandarin is almost as widely used as English in the international scene. For your child's future, well, I'll say go for it!


Hi mumsgather,
It has been a while but I just wanted you to know that I am still following your blog. I enjoy reading about your family and it is so refreshing to read about your culture. As I was reading your latest posting it occured to me that here in America we would never have to make that choice. Our choices would be based on simply public or private school. As a mom to my crew I believe I would go with the one that is 'kid friendly' as they only have one childhood to cherish.
Not political just a mommy thing


  1. dun pressure urself too much all parents is the same, want the best for the kids ..

    Do what u think is best for ur kids .. yeah

  2. Until the night before we go for registration, I still have alot of uncertainties about my choice. I think I dont trust our education system in M'sia.

    I have written very often about my worries on our current education system. I even lost trust with our school teachers these days but I guess I will just have to dot he best that I can.

    I have written here

  3. jessie,
    I think I've left this decision a little late. Now I'm panicking. :P

    Thank you so much. I'll update my links to include your articles.

  4. On chinese school, my personal view is that only those who were chinese ed are qualified to give their comments on whether chinese education is good for them or not and what they went through.

    Most of the time, parents who are not chinese educated complaint a lot about what their kids go through or how helpless they become. It is probably "cultural" shock for them because chinese education is well-known to be very driven.

    I am not saying that parents who are not chinese educated are not at all qualified to comment but their views may be affected by their lack of understanding of how chinese education works.

    My wife is chinese educated till standard 6 and she coped well with whatever that was thrown to her. There was no tuition needed. Many of my friends were chinese educated till standard 6 as well and they are all doing fine, earning a living just like anyone else with no after-effects of the so-called "strict disciplinarian" style of education. And by the way, their command of english is not 2nd rate. Some of them are now English teachers.

    Therein lies the advantage of chinese education in the form of additional language learnt as well as a more driven and disciplined studying lifestyle.

  5. Don't know much about the school systems in M'sia. But if i were u, I will consider sending her to the Chinese (more pressurizing) school if...

    1. My child's language capability is relatively good.
    Some children can pick up a new language fast, some don't. If your child has no language problem, she is able pick up new words fast through listening (not through visual aid), she is likely to do fine in Chinese school too.

    2. The Chinese school offers a better overall curriculum compares to the other schools.

    3. How my child cope with stress. If my child is that type who can't "function" well when under stress, then it is definitely not a good idea to send to Chinese school.

    Even though you don't understand/speak Chinese, it doesn't mean that you cannot provide a good learning environment/experience for your child when comes to acquiring a new foreign language. It is often the attitude of the parents that affect the child's learning.

    Also, it is never too late to start sending her to some Chinese enrichment class. Don't underestimate a child's learning capability. They usually do much better than what we parents expect.

  6. Hi MG, it's been a while ;)

    Believe it or not, I have thought about this before, and even confidently told myself that my kids will go to Chinese school. Why? Because I am a living example. I am not Chinese literate. And there is no better way to learn Chinese (write, read) than attending a Chinese school. Going to tuition may help, but the child will feel like it's an 'extra' thing, and may not put heart into learning it. Take for example again, me. I attending tuition but it didn't last long because I didn't understand the importance of doing well in this 'extra' thing.

    If your family speaks English at home, even the more you should send your children to Chinese schools. Yes, you should. Don't worry about them not being able master English because they will come home to an English-speaking environment. I have friends who attended Chinese schools, but they speak English at home. They have the best of both worlds, and I really admire that. Therefore, I have made up my mind that my future kids will attend Chinese school.

    I hope you see my thoughts as relevant!

  7. that is a very long write..I also confuse initially but then have another 2 more years to think before decide...

  8. pablopabla,
    Thanks for your input. :)

    1. She's good in this area.
    2. I'm warned that we'd have to worry about their deteriotating English level and ability to catch up with Malay when they reach secondary school. You'd have to pass BM to pass the exams and after the 1st six years, you'd have to suddenly get used to the Malay medium for all subjects. Quite a big change.
    3. She doesn't handle stress well, is shy and clingy and hates to try new things.

    Thanks so much for visiting and of course your comments is very much welcomed and appreciated and relevant too! :)

    Lol! Yes its long but you'll be back to read this word for word including all the links I posted here in 2 years. Haha. Its every M'sian parents dilemma.

  9. When it was time for our first daughter to attend kindergarten, my wife and I argued where to send her, chinese school, or the kebangsaan school. She wanted to send her to chinese school as she attended chinese school from kindergarten till primary six, and she speaks fluent mandarin. My argument not to send her to chinese school were that I couldn't understand and speak chinese, that I wouldn't want to be left out in her learning, and that I would want to participate actively in her learning. Well I won and we never regret our decision. Now our daughters are doing very well in school. No doubt , IT BEGINS WITH US, the parents.

  10. dymas,
    I like and am happy to hear your positive story. Thank you for sharing your experience. :)

  11. I went to national school and hubby is from chinese school. Eventhough Chinese is useful but sometimes hubby has problems with English especially when it comes to presentation and meeting with Angmoh at work. Many MNC employ angmoh for top management and that is where English plays an important role.Personally feels that hubby would have climbed the corporate ladder faster if he went to national schools. Besides, Chinese is useful depending on the industry. Some industry doesn't need chinese knowledge at all. From my experience, many of my superiors don't read chinese but turned our to be capable people too.

    Confused mummy


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