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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Road Less Traveled - From SJKC To SMK

We're doing it again. Leaving school decision till the last minute because we couldn't make up our minds. It was the same way when we were deciding whether to send our children to SK or SJKC.

Time flies and in a blink of an eye we are now at the crossroads to Secondary School. While we ponder over Secondary School Choices In Malaysia,  other parents have decided and secured a place in a school of their choice for their children  who are going to secondary school in 2015 while here we are still thinking.... thinking....

We went to visit several schools yesterday. The SMK which was nearest to my house and which was the school we had ticked off as first choice in the school form given to us was our first stopover. That visit left me very disheartened. The school was dirty, many of the window panes were broken and not replaced, the toilets were not clean. The labs had seen better days. Can teachers and students feel motivated and inspired in such an environment?

There was no proper hall. It will definitely be a downgrade in terms of facilities from their current primary school which has a large hall plus an auditorium, a music room, computer room and more. Sigh. Can I put my children there for the next 5-6 years? We spoke to the guard and the canteen lady who had worked there for 15 years. (Sometimes it is good to speak to workers of the school. They have their own stories to tell). They both said that it was ok as long as you don't let your child mix with the wrong company ie meaning those who smoke and play truant meaning there are those sorts of students in the school.

The next SMK we visited was brand new but we couldn't go in to have a look since it was a Sunday so we'll have to wait on that one. Updated: We manage to drop by unannounced to view the school premise and speak to the teachers and the guard. Really nice new premise and facilities but the impression we got was while the school is doing well academically, there are gangsterism and vandalism issues. What a pity.

The third one was an all girl's SMK. This was much better than the first school with nice clean lawn and classrooms and labs. Everything looked very much better taken care off but then we had our boy to think of. If the girl attends this school then we'd have to look for another school for the boy later on and then there would be all sorts of logistics and transport problems plus they would have less to share with each other. They have things to talk about now being in the same school, the teachers, the events, and they share the same holidays.

The fourth school we visited was an SMJK which boasts all the facilities and is well known for academic performance but do we want to put our children in a highly competitive environment like they have been for the first 6 years in primary school? They hardly had enough time to sleep or play. Studying was all they did.

The title of this post is The Road Less Traveled and it is definitely so. None of my girl's classmates are going to a normal SK. They have either left for Private school or will leave for Private or International Schools or they will go for SMJK or CIS or controlled schools. Her friends at school have been telling her that it will be a waste for her to go to SMK. They have been telling her all sorts of horrible things about SMK and discouraging her.

Why is SJKC to SMK the road less travelled? Almost no one wants to go to an ordinary SMK. Even if SMK is the school of no choice, it must have at least one of the following titles : Control School, Cluster School, High Performance School or SBT (Sekolah Berprestasi Tinggi) etc. Is it because parents have become so kiasu. I don't think it is due to that. If you were to personally pay a visit to a normal SMK and a private school you will see how the schools are world's apart just by looking at the physical facilities. Although I have heard my fair share of stories of SMK teaching, I won't comment since my child is not yet in one.

Not only schools, one has to decide whether your child will sit for SPM or IGCSE or the UEC offered by CIS. Are you seeing alphabets by now?

So what do we tell our girl? We tell her that her school will not be what she is used to now. We took her to have a look at the school premise so she can see for herself. We told her what to expect and what not to expect. We told her that we will support her all the way and she will have to work hard herself in order to continue doing well. (She has been used to the teachers spoon feeding her in primary school). We told her she will now have to switch from studying hard in Chinese to studying in Malay and we will help her with her English at home. We told her we will be saving so that we can give her the best education in the later years when it matters.

Why does it have to be so tough to decide? Forget about racial divide and politics and all that, we have no time to think about any of that. It is hard enough to decide. As parents we are only concerned about getting the best education for our children in the best environment possible. After all they will be spending a lot of time at school, almost equal amount of time if not more than the time they spend at home.

Acronym List From This Post

SK= Sekolah Kebangsaan (National Primary School)
SMK= Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (National Secondary School)
SJKC= Sekolah Kebangsaan Jenis Cina (Chinese Primary School)
SMJK=Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan (National Chinese conforming Secondary School)
CIS= Chinese Independant Schools
UEC= Unified Examination Certificate
IGCSE= International General Certificate Of Secondary Education
SPM= Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia

Useful Links: 

Remember to bookmark this page for reference when it comes to your turn to decide on a secondary school. You will find these links very useful indeed.

  1. List of Schools In Malaysia
  2. List of SMJK in Malaysia
  3. About Chinese Independent High School In Malaysia (including list of Chinese Independent Schools In Malaysia)
  4. List Of All Secondary School Schools In Each State In Malaysia
  5. Education In Malaysia (Including What Is SMJK?)
  6. Price Of International School Education In Malaysia
  7. Homeschool And IGCSE
  8. List of Private Schools In Malaysia (non exhaustive)
  9. Choice of Schools In Malaysia (an overview including high performance schools, cluster schools, smart schools, premier schools, vision schools, controlled schools, central schools and sports schools).
  10. Secondary Education Option In Malaysia (An article from School Advisor, a web portal to help parents choose private or international schools). You can search for private and international schools in your area from this portal.


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