Private Chinese Schools of Malaysia – review of Private Schools in Penang.

It must have been circa 2006 that I taught at Penang Chinese Girls’ Private High School. It was a culture shock for me. 

  • the “chinese-mind” culture – arbitrary standards, rules and systems. Things seldom, if ever, go by merit. Things go by how popular you are and where you stand on the popular camp. Yes, rules can be bent if you are on the right side of the fence. 
  • No contracts given to teachers and very, very low requirements to hire someone as a teacher. 
  • Hiring process of teachers is as bad or worse than Kebangsaan schools. Do not expect qualified or mentally competent teachers. 
  • the “communist culture” – everyone is treated as a number, not an individual human being. You only  matter if you produce results, not because you are a unique human being. 
  • no innovation. In fact, innovation is not allowed. They are pretty bent on living in the past. 
  • If any innovation or “new ideas” are considered they’re always a few steps behind. 
  • Things are a lot more glossier on the outside. You get disciplinary action for saying anything bad about – just think North Korea.

Here are my Top 5 takeaways from my experience of teaching in a private Chinese school in Malaysia : 

  • They expand more time and energy trying to control others or each other or point out mistakes rather than being productive. This covers all aspects from time consuming (time wasting) activities, classroom practices and “homework”. 
  • They seldom walk their talk and are very incongruent between what they propagate and their beliefs. A harsh term would be “unconscious hypocrites”. For instance, they can preach “loving kindness” and “co-operation” but in reality they behave in ways that are cruel to a person’s developing psyche and model of the world and encourage cruel competition and selfishness. 
  • The students are usually a lot smarter than all the teachers combined and thus the concerted need to dumb them down with ridiculous rules. (like getting prefects to buy bras on weekends so they can do a strip search the next week and find “patterned” bras.) – think Nazi concentration camp minus executions. 
  • They pay attention almost exclusively to the “top students” and cream these students. Because of the small population of students the same students get roped in again and again for duties, responsibilities and competitions. 
  • The UEC examination really deserves to be flushed down the drain. I walked away with a new respect for our Education Ministry and how they can tolerate this nonsense called the Chinese Private Education System. The standards are abysmal and they cannot possibly produce anything refined. They may, however, succeed in not destroying the most emotionally intelligent characters who are usually in the “back class”. 

There are two groups of parents who send their children to private Chinese education schools in Malaysia : 

  1. The political extremist who would do ANYTHING to undermine the sovereignty of our government. These are usually educated, middle-class parents. 
  2. The working class / borderline poor who want to keep their kids in school for as long as possible knowing their kids would kick their way out of a Malay kebangsaan school where their primary Chinese education would make them feel like aliens. 

Overall, I think private Chinese school systems do more harm than good and take away  more than they contribute to Malaysia going forward. However, I am also glad they are around because they demonstrate how liberal and open-minded our BN-led government has been in spite of all the flak the MOE and BN-led government is getting over their “failures” in designing a cohesive, progressive education system. If someone else (say, me) took over the entire Chinese private school vehicle Malaysia would definitely achieve Vision 2020. But that’s never going to happen because I have zero love for Communism. Bear in mind that the history and roots of the DuZhong were to separate themselves from the nation and “brainwash” their own community enough to bring a return to communism or Chinese supremacy. Education is indoctrination. And they never forgot their main objective of creating separation. All their PR about unity? Total bullshit. You have to be in there as an observer and being non-partisan to know the place is crawling with communists. 

But hey, if you have nothing against Communism and you’re fine with your child being treated like a number then I suppose their ideology won’t really affect you to the degree it irks me. 

5 Reasons Why Would Middle-Class / Educated Parents Send Their Children to A Private Chinese School.

  1. They can’t afford international or real private schools. They think all private schools were made equal. They think if DuZhong schools admitted a few Thai, PRC and African students, it’s the equivalent of an international school. NOT.
  2. Even if they could afford real private schools or send their children to Singapore or elsewhere they are concerned about their child’s discipline and moral character if they mingled with “rich, spoiled, kids” or were too far away from the parents. 
  3. They bought the belief that UEC is superior to SPM. This must be one of the things that make me laugh hardest. It’s like saying infant formula is superior to breastfeeeding. Look, it’s true that not everyone can handle the lifestyle to breastfeed or have value systems that would encourage them to breasfteed. And I’m using this as an analogy because this post was written at the request of a breastfeeding mom. SPM is not for EVERYONE – especially those who can afford to do better than that and who have a lot more options in life i.e. who have different lifestyle options in life than going to a local U or get a government job. 

    But to compare UEC to SPM is like comparing infant formula to breastmilk. Sure, a lot more things go into UEC but none of them is actually better for an intelligent, young person’s mind. If anything, UEC makes you dumber because it’s more rote, more memorizing, more of the same drill that goes into communist-style learning. The Math and Science standards are higher but compared to what, SPM? Try comparing it apple to apple, say A-levels. Try Khan Academy and external exams instead of relying on UEC if you’re serious about getting graded on Math and Science. 

  4. They think the discipline in these schools are better. *chokes*. I don’t believe in humiliating and degrading human beings to the level they submit. In fact, I don’t even believe it’s the duty of a school or any teacher to discipline my child. My child goes to school for an empowering experience not to have another adult tell her who she is and what values and opinions she’s allowed to have. Hey, but that’s me – I’m not a communist, see? As my firstborn turns 16 in January I am becoming more and more aware that external discipline is a cruelty and violence towards another human being. I am a result of my conditioning and I have been guilty of trying to “discipline” my daughter and I regret every moment I was being that way. I was running on autopilot. 

    While I was teaching in that school I showed my students a movie, “The Emperor’s Club”. There was a scene where a Senator went against the school saying it’s not the school’s job to discipline his son. The moral of the story was fast forward many years later this son of a Senator becomes a Senator himself but had questionable morals and that’s what happens when you don’t let school teachers instill moral character. 

    I lean more towards Roald Dahl’s sentiments as expressed in BOY. I do not believe, that as a teacher, (and I still am, as a Life Coach and Business Coach) I have any right to judge anyone’s character when they are under my teaching. My job is to illuminate their minds. What they choose to do with their knowledge is up to them. Many teachers have taught talented students that have become deviants or antagonists. I believe in free-will and choice. And I believe that as teachers we cannot and must not discriminate when it comes to knowledge – even when our students use that knowledge against us or to defeat us. 

    Teachers are servants of our students. We serve. We are not their masters or their superiors or an authority, judge and jury over them. I serve and I get paid. I’m a social-preneur. 

  5. They’ve weighed the cons of a private Chinese school and think that additional mastery of the Chinese language by being immersed in that environment is more advantageous than mastery in Bahasa Malaysia or English. This is especially true when one of the parents is Taiwanese or PRC or if Chinese is their mother tongue and they have no intentions of their child spending their entire lives making a living in Malaysia alone. 

Roundup :

Here are the factors we usually take into consideration. Sorry that I’m not taking the time to make this into a table of comparison. I’m rating them from my own personal experience only of interacting with other teachers and feedback from students while I was still teaching. The ratings are 1 (bad) to 10 (good). I am using my alma mater (CLS) as an arbitrary control averaging 5 on every factor. 

Quality of Teachers and school administration

Phor Tay : 1 out of 10. 

Chung Ling : 1.5 out of 10. 

Binhua : 3 out of 10. 

Han Chiang : 6 out of 10.

Quality of facilities and extra-curricular activities :

Phor Tay : 1 out of 10. 

Chung Ling : 1.5 out of 10. 

Binhua : 3 out of 10. 

Han Chiang : 8 out of 10.

Quality of classroom teaching, methods, materials, curriculum, overall academic standards : 

Phor Tay : 1 out of 10. 

Chung Ling : 1.5 out of 10. 

Binhua : 3 out of 10. 

Han Chiang : 7.5 out of 10.

 Quality of student mix and social experience : 

Phor Tay : 5 out of 10. 

Chung Ling : 5 out of 10. 

Binhua : 3 out of 10. 

Han Chiang : 8 out of 10.

Stress level and additional after-school workload : (reverse ranking : 10 = high stress, 1 = good, low stress) 

Phor Tay : 2 out of 10. 

Chung Ling : 5 out of 10. 

Binhua : 9 out of 10. 

Han Chiang : 6 out of 10.

Conclusion : 

It might seem as if I am more biased towards Han Chiang and I have been for many years. I have neither personal reasons for or against it. On merit alone this is probably the ONLY PRIVATE CHINESE SCHOOL NORTH OF MALAYSIA that functions like one with a purely scholastic agenda Thanks to their board of directors, Han Chiang as an entire entity (primary, private secondary, college) is a good choice for people with few alternatives in education. They run their school like a school. They pay their teachers better. They have a functioning ESL department and they generally hire competent teachers. I have managed to convince one of my former ESL students to not move to Singapore and instead enrol for Han Chiang’s O-level stream. 

Han Chiang holds true to a culture and environment for learning and offering academic support and opportunities to the Chinese community. I cannot say this is also the agenda of other private Chinese schools north of Malaysia……..maybe, perhaps, the whole of West and East Malaysia combined. Perhaps it is due to the history of a relatively higher population of Thai, Indonesian and students of other nationality that contributed to the adulteration of the communist agenda and instead on the focus of a genuine Mother Tongue Chinese education agenda. 

I welcome any questions you have about enrolling your children in a private Chinese high school so do leave your comments below. I’ll leave you with this last but very important part though : 

What I say here is true for me and is  based only on my experience and the way I see things. Depending on your own mix of values and your child’s mix of expectations and personality things might turn out differently for you (and your child). I’ve met foreign parents who preferred Binhua and Chung Ling because of a lower foreign-student population. I’ve met parents who avoid Han Chiang because of the high foreign student mix. They consider this as a factor making the Chinese-mother tongue environment “inferior” because they stream students according to their Chinese-language ability.  

Ask yourself why a private Chinese school rather than a kebangsaan school. Being weak in our national language is NOT a good or valid reason at all. Unless you get into the O-level stream, a UEC is pretty useless, or is as good as never having gone to school at all. Sure they tell you that in Taiwan it is recognized. But let’s see if one is treated as an equal on a Taiwan campus or as a Chinese-speaking pariah. The only valid reason I can think of for going to a private Chinese school like Han Chiang is the same reasons affluent Thai and Indonesian parents send their children here : to be immersed in the environment and pick up the language and darn if the results are bad. 

If you’re a homeschooling “wannabe” seriously question your motives about compromising between a kebangsaan school and then “settling” for a private Chinese school. On any given day as a bonafide unschooling parent I’d say, go to a kebangsaan school. A kebangsaan school in Penang has a better chance of providing a healthier overall academic experience than a private Chinese school no matter how bad it is. If it’s bullying and such, change kebangsaan schools. If you’re going to suffer schooling anyway might as well suffer in one that has some form of legitimacy. I find the character of kebangsaan secondary school students more balanced compared to DuZhong students. 

I totally get what the problems are with our kebangsaan school system. I wrote this entire blog over a course of years focusing on little else than the problems we have with our school systems – here in Malaysia and elsewhere. If anyone knows so well what’s wrong with school systems, I’m one of them. But now we’re talking “if homeschooling is not an option for me, what are my options?”

Homeschooling or private schooling doesn’t offer “better options” for the future until you become the kind of person that can lead that change from home. Once you are it doesn’t really matter what school your child is in. 

I had wanted to send FirstBorn to Han Chiang for the sake of immersion. First Born needs to sleep – a lot. And we would’ve gone if she were allowed to fall asleep at her desk – which you aren’t in Han Chiang. And the hours are too long for First Born to survive it. Han Chiang didn’t match our internal climate. And as people who live by Design we can’t screw ourselves over just to get on the assembly line. Neither do we want to fight a battle that isn’t necessary with any systems out there.

FirstBorn intends to take the SPM as a private candidate. I leave it up to her because one of the things I teach is being self-directed and self-driven. I tell her : “Have clarity on what you want, why you want it, and do what it takes to own the results in your life. If it’s important enough to you you’ll do it. If it’s not, then at least you’ll know you won’t be spending your energy on something you don’t really want.” She’s mature enough to handle that though many parents would disagree because according to them, “At that age I didn’t know what I wanted and I’m glad my parents pushed me.” – But here’s the thing : different strokes for different folks. That’s the core tenet of homeschooling. 

Whatever decision you make just trust that it’s going to be right for you and when you discover it’s not – just do a retake. Life is just a dress rehearsal. 


27 thoughts on “Private Chinese Schools of Malaysia – review of Private Schools in Penang.

  1. Thanks for sharing these info. It is indeed enlightening to know about the four Chinese Independent Schools in the island where I am at the cross road to choose one for my daughter.

  2. Hi, I want to enrol my kids in Han Chiang but according to your article private school is worse than kebangsaan school n uec is useless. I’m in dilemma after reading ur article

    1. Han Chiang is the least damaging. They have a strong school board, fantastic facilities and teachers are paid better so the turnover of experienced teachers are not as high. I wouldn’t say their teaching faculty is “excellent”. I wouldn’t work there if i were offered a place, not even if they were to pay me the same as an international school would.

      For teachers with experience and choices a good working environment is a deciding factor for whether or not we want to teach. Han Chiang is not a place I would teach at nor send my daughter to. Not where it is right now. Things may change years from now but who knows?

      My advice is : don’t have high standards. If you need a place to send your child to for several hours in a day, where discipline is enforced, where creativity and self-confidence is regulated but yet there’s space for the brilliant and ingenious to still graduate from the system psychologically intact and relatively unscathed, go for it.

      Just remember not to have high standards or educational expectations.

    1. Carrine, thanks. Yes, teachers bullying students. I get what you mean. I love that you are willing to speak your truth and say something about it.

    1. The system is not as important as the collective school culture and emotional environment. Han Chiang is a bigger entity and better managed. All private Chinese schools do the UEC which they have to defend to the death as a political tool to wield.

  3. I came across this article purely by chance, but it has left me with a deep impression. I’m one of those parents who are seriously considering sending my children to an independent school (Chung Ling, in fact). My reasons for choosing an independent school are:
    1. My children will experience a wholesome school life (not just academics but also extra-curricular activities).
    2. I don’t have to worry whether they are really attending their tuition classes or ‘ponteng’ to play truant.
    3. Better school environment where the students (or parents of the students) actually care about studies.
    4. Teachers who care about the students as persons and not just the academics results.

    I have relatives who send their children to independent schools and they sing praises about the schools, which give me greater confidence in sending my children there too. Is my thinking wrong?

    1. At the end of the day there are several dynamics at play : parental expectations, child’s ability to adapt, the particular mix of teachers and students at a given time. If you share the same values your relatives do and your child has the right personality it can be a good fit. There is no one size fits all. You simply need to jump right in and see whether you sink or swim. At the secondary level peer influence is so important. If your child is making friends and feeling alright about school then it’s OK even if they don’t achieve their fullest creative or individual potential. Chinese Private schools apart from Han Chiang are notorious for being highly prejudicial. They will treat some students better than others and make it very obvious. This isn’t a healthy thing to happen. But it does. As human beings we prefer people who share our values.

  4. Hey there! Loved the article. I’m from Han Chiang and feeling so proud. Honestly, the high number of foreign mix students is what makes me love it so much. I feel that it gives me the “exposure”, and it also teaches u to get along with other nationalities. I think it’s really special that you get to hear so many different languages in one place.

    Also, from what I know, student-teacher relationships are SUPER good here. I have a senior (graduated recently) who went on holiday overseas with a HC teacher. Obviously you don’t do that with just “any” teacher. Rumors about violent foreign students who’ll beat u up are just false false false. Local students can do that too okay? you won’t believe how nice -as long as u don’t provoke them, of course- the thai students here actually are. We have English teachers who actually speak English fluently and not like /some/ teachers who can’t even.

    Plus, lots of graduating primary school students choose to come to HC now. It has definitely become one of the top choices.

    1. Thank you. I have recommended a close friend’s son to enrol in Han Chiang. have a lot of respect for what Han Chiang and its board members have put into making the entity what it is today.

  5. It seems to me you are pro BN government, thinks that these private chi schools are rubbish & you face tons of hypocrisy & rules while working there as a teacher.
    perhaps you can justify all these claims by first explaining– your back ground ? , Qualification ? graduated from overseas/ local teaching institution ?
    since BN govt took a backward step to stop teaching maths & science in English, private chi high schools had been oversubscribed. I do not think you are smarter than these parents, nor do I agree UEC is crap.
    I passed one junior 2 ( equiv form 2) maths Questin to 3 students in SMK school , 2 of them in form 5, 1 in form 3, none of them can solve . To say SPM is great is simply “katak bawah tempurong”.
    I am a professional & Aust graduate .

    1. First of all I am rather apolitical. But between the Devil and the dark, deep sea I choose the Devil because “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. As for the hypocrisy and such they didn’t actually advertise what they were really about when they hired me. I spent 18 months falling down the rabbit hole and decided to choose the Red Pill and got out of there. I thought I would be able to make a difference helping students achieve a level of proficiency in English and finding meaning and purpose in life. I didn’t realize that for a grand total of $1,500 a month I would be participating in the killing of minds.

      It seems that you are so emotionally triggered by this post – which means I wrote a good post. I don’t make a living justifying myself to people who are not in vibrational alignment with my goals. You are either going to be a student of mine or you are going to be a leader of your own cult and start your own thing.

      I don’t think BN government took a backward step. You don’t know the logistics nightmare the system is facing. Honestly, you need to get over your angst ridden anxiety and start volunteering to teach instead of getting all emotionally triggered.

      I agree with you that I am not smarter than any parent or teacher out there. I am just a lot better at self promoting my vision of the world as I want to see it.

      I would be worried for our country if an “Aust” graduate and “professional” has your level of punctuation, self-expression and emotional immaturity. Just sayin’.

      Note : The ruling government has now allowed schools to teach S&M in English if they have the logistical capacity to do it. I personally don’t believe that the teaching of Science and Math is the best way to teach English.

  6. I couldn’t agree more with your comments about chinese private school but I couldn’t concur about the kebangsaan school becos my daughter attended one chinese private school for slightly more than a year. Everything you said is spot on and yes communism is how i think of them. When we left I really felt sorry for all the students who are still there but I prayed that they fare well in life. You couldn’t be more accurate and precise in your elaborative descriptions of how they run the schools.

    Our only reason for leaving is Leave before further damage is done to our daughter. My only comment to the administration officer before we left was “this school is so backward in terms of education”.

    My only advice to those who can’t afford international or private nor want to go to kebangsaan, think home schools. A lot of church or private home schools are set up lately. Check out thoroughly before you enrol. Know your child. Open communication and it will save you and your child a lot of heartaches. If you have to go kebangsaan, support your child and be there for your child.

    1. Thank you. And I am glad that having written this out loud has validated the experiences of others out there. Imagine how many others have felt confused and never spoken up.

  7. Hi, I feel that having a strong foundation in Mandarin is important so that’s one reason why I’m considering Hun Bin Chinese School. If the International Schools in Penang taught Mandarin it would have solved all my problems…unfortunately not. l would like to get your opinion about sending a child to International school and taking Mandarin lessons after school VS. sending child to Chinese School? Thanks for your time!

    1. I also believe in having a strong foundation in Mandarin because that is an advantage for us here in Malaysia regardless of our ethnic origin. However, unless you are from a highly educated Chinese family and there is a reading and intellectual environment at home (in Chinese) most of us from Malaysia may not have a strong enough foundation in Mandarin but merely achieve communicative competency. If you are yourself a product of a Chinese school system and believe in giving that cultural experience to your child then by all means do send to a Chinese school. At least you are aware of what to expect and are realistic. If you are not a product of a Chinese school system you may need to sacrifice a lot of your personal values which may not work out in the long run unless you are very determined to let your child cope emotionally and psychologically on their own. Some children thrive and adapt well under any system. The most important thing is the stability at home and the confidence their parents have in them that they are fine the way they are.

  8. I came across your article and I feel that I must make some facts clear. I enrolled in a Chinese private school in Penang in 2008 and I graduated in 2013 with the UEC certificate. I don’t agree with some points that you have mentioned about the private school culture as I had a pretty good experience studying there. And I absolutely disagree about the UEC system being bad. No assessment is perfect, but many students did benefit from this system. Personally, I managed to get into a good university and I am coping well with my studies. Perhaps I am a little too sensitive, but I feel that you are not completely objective in your opinions in this article.

    1. First of all, this is a BLOG. If mainstream media is not even objective you are silly to expect a blog to not make a polarized stand.

      So, why were you interested in this article in the first place, then? What were you searching for? You could’ve stopped in the first paragraph. Makes me wonder what your purpose is in reading to the end?

      Facts clear? How old are you if you cannot differentiate between an opinion and a fact, an argument and a narrative?

      Anyway, I am genuinely happy for you that you had a very good experience studying there. It was a right fit for you. Soldier on. You might want to start a blog detailing how students “are benefiting from” this Communist, separatist, inspired education system. I simply can’t wait for the Independent Chinese School network to undo themselves. They have lost a few good decades and I hope they continue on that self-sabotaging trajectory.

      Don’t even get me started on “good university” and “coping well”. It is not an indication of anything at all.

      Thanks for your comment.

  9. Hi, this is some of my personal views and shares.

    Sadly, I have to agree with you about the quality of chinese independent school student I’ve met in the West Malaysia. I am once a student from East Malaysia, and when I had a chance to make friend with some of those, I am really shocked that some of them can’t converse a whole sentence in Malay, some can’t even converse proper English (Singaporean Universities doesn’t even recognise UEC English!). Then, I make a sense when I know that a lot of student in chinese independent school of West Malaysia doesn’t sit for SPM, while the schools in East Malaysia have to.

    I do not really understand the systems and network for the West Malaysia schools, but my experience during school days in East Malaysia Chinese Independent School was quite a good experience (except for the social experience which the school is still crammed with chinese student), I also have good times with the band and international students from Aust, PRC and Korea, which given me the chances to experience foreign cultures in the school exchange programme.

    The science subjects in the school was taught in English, which is a great relief for me. What really makes me feel worth in my senior years is that the school provides IELTS, accounting and programming lessons, which I really gets those qualifications when I graduated.

    Anyway, I surely agree with you that chinese independent schools and UEC do have problem in their system. I’ve encountered a problem that I was totally not able to cope up with my maths studies during my senior years (I actually scored As in primary school, junior high and SPM), it was a total mess that I could hardly pass until I took up the lessons on Khan Academy.

    The real problem is that the UEC is really not coping up with the world’s education (as claiming itself better than government schools), lots of old-fashion minded teachers still on its old way in memorizing answers and spoon feeding the students with more answer, instead of trying to let the students really understand and be able to elaborate in its very own way. Growing up in an autopilot and free-minded family, this left me completely bizarre from the others student which end up I’m the one who is a weirdo.

    In fact, the government school in this side is already trying to make a change introducing KSSR and KSSM into primary and secondary schools. If the chinese independent schools continues in this old-fashioned way, it will really left out far.

    My younger brother who is an ADHD child, did not manage to admit my previous school and attended a government secondary school. I could not say any good as my parents are transferring him to a smaller school with specialty care, since my brother is totally left unconcern by the teachers.

  10. THIS IS OUTRAGEOUSLY WRONG! Our schools are in fact much more based on a merit system than you think, and our education standards are much higher than your government schools. If you don’t believe me, try being a student and spot the f-ing difference for yourself, you myopic bastard.

  11. Hello! I’m a graduate from an Independent Chinese Girls School based in KL and I absolutely loved your post, especially on the points where you mentioned that Chinese schools breed communism.

    I consider myself as one of the survivors (i.e. one who wasn’t brainwashed by the communism). I was brought up in a Westernised family and studying in a Chinese school was absolute torture for me.

    Chinese schools expect absolute conformity to the status quo, you’re not allowed to question anything the authorities say and innovation is forbidden at the expense of the future generation’s costs.

    With hindsight though, I’m glad I went to a Chinese school – I really appreciated the ‘Western thinking meets Eastern values’ experience, and all the adversity I experienced in Chinese school definitely contributed to my character-building and development.

    Here’s my 2 cents to parents who are thinking of sending their children to Chinese schools: (1) Yes, you can expect ‘discipline’ from your child, but you can expect your child’s critical thinking skills to be severely impaired; (2) Minimise this risk by exposing your child to Western education, make sure they question everything and make sure they do not accept the status quo for what it is; (3) If you can’t do this, you’re probably better off sending your child to other schools; (4) Disregard this advice if you don’t mind your child turning out to have a cookie-cutter character

    Once again, thank you for this informative write-up and your brutal honesty!

  12. As an fresh-man educator, I absolutely agree with your stand. I do not agree with most of the Chinese parents with ‘kia su’ attitude and always thought that they are giving the best education to their child by sending them to piovate school. Personally I do not think that being able to speak a fluet native-liked English brighten your future career if they are not trained to be socialize with different races and learn to be tolerant in diversity.

    I had been meeting a lot of Chinese students and parents fwho refused to accept any government education offer such as Matrikulasi or public universities. It is such a waste to turn down the opportunity for you to learn and adapt yourself to do well in diverse environment and improve your social network and communication skills with different ethic. Trust me, Malaysian education is not that worse, it depends on how the children are going to accommodate by adjusting their midnset, attitude and their own motivation to study, learn and survive.

    Do not pampared them and make all the decision for them. Children have to get the chance to see things and opportunities by their own, evaluate the consequences that they will have, and make their own decision, as that will be their future instead of their parent’s.

    1. A lot of things go into a future career. Believe it or not, many native speakers of English or native speakers of any language don’t have a language and literacy ability above that of a fourth grader.

      If you are referring to the general theme of my blog, a proficiency in English opens a lot of doors. There are more options in life whether it is about advancing in our scholastic aptitude or types of career or levels of career.

      However, this particular blog post focuses mainly on the ICS of Malaysia. Getting a better education in English should not even be a factor in considering a Chinese school. It’s a hit and miss except maybe for Han Chiang’s IGCSE stream.

      I agree with your other points and thank you for taking the time to comment.

  13. Hi – loved your well thought out and articulated article!

    I have two kids that attended a public Chinese immersion primary school in the USA. It was a great experience. When I describe the experience to local Chinese parents in Penang the reaction is “I wish we had such a school!”

    Anyway, we are in Penang and want to continue our kids in some sort of Mandarin school. One part of our education plan is for them to be fluent in Mandarin (at an academic level – not just speaking). Mandarin in hard because if you get behind you are pretty much SOL. Some people don’t realize that you are essentially learning two different languages as spoken and written are not related phonetically.

    Back to my kids. They are still in primary. I have a decent network of friends in Penang and asked around about schools and most recommended Hun bin or Han Chiang. Unfortunately my kids can’t attend Hun Bin right away as the visa process is back logged in Malaysia these days (no visa, no public schools). So we have to send them to a private school for the time being. Heading out today to find one.

    We are not concerned with academics. My kids already do well academically. English is not an issue. We just are looking for Mandarin immersion and being with a good group of kids. My kids’ Mandarin reading and writing are at or above the local level but conversation is weaker – especially in a non-classroom setting.

    I don’t believe in relying on schools to educate my kids. To me, schools are just one tool to be used as needed.

    If you are in Penang would love to chat a bit if available.

    1. What we need is the culture of a western private school that uses Chinese as another language. That seems to be the evolution in terminology, from “foreign language” to “second language” and now, “another language”.

      Yeah, I should do set up a Chinese immersion school in Penang. But find me a piece of land first!

      I’m in Penang.

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