Tak kenal maka tak cinta. Jom Kenali Universiti Awam (UA) Malaysia.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Schools in Malaysia (Part I)

Posted by CLF

Greetings to fellow friends who're concern about students in Malaysia. I'm a new contributor here, so let's get started with a new year post! :)

Education is one of the core element of a nation's growth and development. Education sector contributed countless professional workforces into the economy and service industries, as well as preparing the citizens to embrace the world with full of challenges and uncertainties, in a rightful manner and correct mindset.

Education starts from school, and in this article I'd like to talk about the schools in Malaysia.

Early education system in Malaysia follows the footsteps of the British education system, thanks to the British colonial era decades ago. Today, the education system in Malaysia had changed and differs from the original British education system.

Young Malaysians aged 7 start their first step of formal education in primary school, where they'll be spending 6 years learning the basics of each core subjects, namely language subjects like Bahasa Melayu and English, mathematics and science.

Malaysia is a multi-racial country, thus, different arrangements have been made in order to cater the needs of a certain groups of students. Because of this, different types of primary schools have been setup in all over the nations. Most of the primary schools in Malaysia are funded by the government. Some fully-funded, while some partially-funded.

Here, I'll explain each of the primary schools from what I learnt.

#1 Sekolah Kebangsaan, SK (National school)

The most abundant primary school of all types. SK is catered for the bumiputra students and it's also available for other races as well. Most of the students in SK consist of Malay ethnic, with minorities of Chinese and Indian population in the school (rarely foreign students). This type of school can been found easily in most cities, even in countryside (kampung) as well.

Basically this school teaches the core languages BM and English but did not offer lessons for Chinese Mandarin or Indian Tamil languages (unless special case). Pendidikan Islam (Islamic studies) has been given priority in this school, as most of the populations are Muslims (for non-Muslims, they'll have Pendidikan Moral, which is Moral studies).

Most of the lessons are taught in Malay, with the exceptional case of science and maths taught in English.

#2 Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina, SJK C (National type Chinese school)

This type of school used to be named as Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina (SRJK C), but they drop the "Rendah" and become the SJK C we see today.

SJK C consist of majority Chinese, as most of the SJK C are built by earlier Chinese generations in order to give their children the opportunity to study their mother language, Chinese Mandarin. Today, more than 90% of Chinese parents send their children to study in SJK C.

As it stated above, SJK C offers the Chinese Mandarin lesson, as well as the other core languages BM and English. Most of the subjects are taught in Mandarin, except for BM and English. One interesting note is that in SJK C, Maths and Science are taught in two languages, that is Mandarin and English.

Students from SJK C are subjected to heavy burdens as homework seems to be never-ending, strict ruling by teachers, overweight schoolbags etc. These issues have been discussed for years and until now no solution had came out since then. Also, SJK C students are also known for their hardworking attitude, and sometimes become bound-to-the-books type of attitude (read: NERD).

Nevertheless, nowadays an increasing number of Malay and Indian parents are sending their kids into SJK C because of the advantage of learning Mandarin, given the current trend of the uprising China in the wake of the world.

#3 Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil, SJK T (National type Tamil school)

SJK T is mostly attended by Indian students. Compare to SK and SJK C, SJK T is quite uncommon, only a few can be found in a state, as the Indians are the smallest population of all three majority races in Malaysia. At places where no other primary schools are available, children are sent into SJK T. However, this is an uncommon case.

Like SJK C, SJK T gave the chance for students to learn Tamil language, the mother language of majority Indians in Malaysia (other dialects like Hindi and Gujarati).

(Sorry I don't have additional information bout SJK T, thus I can only write a short passage about it.)

In Part II, I'll talk about the secondary schools available in Malaysia.
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  1. Nice first post!

    Students from SJK C are subjected to heavy burdens as homework seems to be never-ending, strict ruling by teachers, overweight schoolbags etc.

    So true that it reminds me bringing the thick Bahasa Cina dictionary to the school a few times weekly. Oh and the homework, never-ending is definitely the right choice of word to describe it.

  2. i don't agree that those who attend SJK C are known as NERDS.. that's very offending!!


  3. student:
    Heheh those were the days. I found that in secondary school the begs are getting lighter every year and so do the amount of homeworks.

    Dennis SSJ:
    Hey I'm from SJK C too, sorry that if that offended you, but from my case I've seen quite a number of primary schoolmates turn into like that in secondary school. Well, this post is based on my observation so that's what I think about it.
    Of course, it's only a handful of them are nerds. :)

  4. Well, interesting first post! But I wonder what happened to the new year wishes from other contributors on this Malaysia Students blog.

    Nevermind that...

    Only government schools? What about private schools? Hehes...because I am from a private school, ever since I was in Standard 1. Nevertheless, I had friends from all different schools, and the ones which I had so much difficulty conversing with are the Chinese school students. First off, they really freak me out with their Mathematical skills, something which is really good. But, most of the times, these kids aren't fluent when it comes to English. Which makes it difficult to communicate as I cannot speak Mandarin nor understand Mandarin.

    :) Good head start! Wish you all the best and luck!

  5. Hi CLF,

    A decent article, but I do feel that you're falling into the trap of categorising types of schools with specific characteristics. Personally, I feel that a lot of the issues (like overweight bags, plentiful homework, etc) apply across the board. I really feel that a locker system, or at least a cupboard, where students can keep some of their stuff, should be seriously considered.

    Another thing you highlighted is the language issue. I feel that this is an important point, because of the advantages of learning more languages. I would personally like to see Tamil and Mandarin classes (for example) being implemented in schools. However, with the timetable being jam packed as it is, it's tricky to decide how to integrate this. Maybe we should stop putting so much emphasis on after school tuition, and concentrate more on picking up other skills. Maybe you guys might have a better idea on this.


  6. Karthik:
    Yep, you did mention the problem of students studying in gov school background compare to international school standard.
    I cant say which one is superior as each school has it's advantage isnt it? I for one, is that kind of student you mentioned.

    I'll touch about international schools in Part II. ;)

    Thanks for your comment, will try to sort out the 2nd part soon.

    I do feel myself a little narrow-minded when writing this article. This article came out of my own observation, so I think it's unwise if I add something that I didn't witness it.
    Yes, I strongly support the idea of providing lockers for students.

    From what I learn from school's admin, setting up a time-table for the whole school is like a nightmare because there's many things to be considered when planning the schedule.
    Hoho, it'll be interesting if MoE decided to add in those 2 languages. It'll be an educational revolution for us! :D

  7. I am not quite sure what was your intention of this post. Do not misunderstand me, I do not mean to criticize. I meant to ask, are you just introducing the schools? Or are you analyzing them?

    In any case, I want to add something. Not all SJKC students are not fluent in English, it actually depends a lot on the family. Some of my friends and I learn to love English through education from our parents.

    But the sad fact is that most SJKC students only du2 si3 shu1 读死书, which results in students with A in BM and BI(because it's just a written exam) but can't speak fluently.

    For example my sister. She is totally surrounded by Chinese(Kindergarten, Primary school) and quite refuses to speak another language. Even when I talk to her in BM, she will only answer in BC. I am quite shocked at her language skills in BM despite all her BM homework. She doesn't understand ANYTHING she wrote in her exercise book. I find it unbelievable that her teacher doesn't do something about it.

    Anyway I think the education system in Malaysie does not encourage thinking very well. It is basically a copy and memorize system.

    PS: The nerd thing is probably true though :P I'm one of them.

  8. kaurin:
    I think this is partially observation and analysis post.

    Yes, I agree with your point that SJK C studens' fluency in English strongly depends on their family background. I've a few friends who fall under this category.

    For youngsters doing their primary education, it's very hard to explain to them the purpose of studying, like your sis, who're one of the many victims of misleading education.

    I think most of us here agrees that the current education system has many loopholes and it can be improved, provided the right person doing the right job, at the right timing.

    Then again, we'll see is MoE capable to turn things around....

  9. thanks, this has been helpful. :)
    and i respect you for going through the trouble to find out, and of course to spread. :)

  10. Hi,
    could i get infor on the number of hours a week that students learn English in each of the schools stated above.


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