Archive for the 'Education' Category

Aug 29 2014

Chinese Independent Schools In Penang

Published by under Education

Generally when we talk about Chinese Independent Schools, our understanding is that these schools are largely funded by the Malaysian Chinese community. The medium of instruction in these schools is Mandarin with simplified Chinese characters writing. The United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia coordinates the curriculum used in the schools and organizes the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) standardized test.

I am taken by surprise to find out that the Chinese Independent Schools are slightly different in the northern region, at least in Penang Island.

With a twist of faith, these schools give me new hope. I couldn’t believe it at first when a friend of mine told me that two of the Chinese Independent Schools offer the IGCSE O level classes. I do not know out of the 60 Chinese Independent Schools in Malaysia, how many offers this course. But what I know for now is that Han Chiang High School and Chung Ling High school in Penang offer this course. If not mistaken Poi Lam High School in Ipoh also offers IGCSE O level classes.

Han Chiang is entering it third year of offering O level course whereby if not mistaken, 2nd year for Chung Ling. The fees for this course is slightly higher than the normal UEC classes but still far cheaper than private and international schools. Han Chiang has 5 IGCSE classes whereby Chung Ling only has one. No news on whether they will add on another class for 2015.

In order to enter to these two schools, there is an entrance exam.  For Han Chiang, the entrance test is different for O level and UEC students. I do not know how the entrance exam for Chung Ling would be as the students cannot choose to go O level class but assigned to that only class based on entrance exam.  I also found out that there is a English medium UEC class offers by Han Chiang. Whereby apart from language subjects, students can learn the other subjects (maths, sciences, history, geography) in English starting from Junior 1.

Penang Chinese Girl School also has her own unique characteristics and it’s the cheapest among the four. PCGS is the only Chinese Independent GIRL school. Some parents prefer this as they feel that being in a girl school can eliminate a lot of teen’s boys/girls relationship problem.

Phor Tay High School is the only Buddhist Chinese Independent School throughout the whole nation. At the moment, it’s not in our choice list even though we are Buddhist. I just feel that a Buddhist school does not suit my girl’s personality and characteristic.

Hubs and me had visited three of these schools. Though many recommended us to go Chung Ling, but somehow the school environment did not give us a good warm feeling on first impression. Nevertheless, we have paid RM20 for the entrance exam which would be held in 28/9. We have not decided if we shall proceed to sit for the exam.

Hubs was impressed with PCGS. The school looks welcoming. Warm , clean and bright. We noticed that the girls are given opportunity to be part of all the activities and events and are very capable and hands on. We attended the open day briefing. I doubt hubs understand what the principal has to deliver as it was done in Mandarin. We like it that the school has special programs for girls. Workshops and classes on etiquette and even grooming. Still we aren’t really sure if it suits JS. Majority of the teachers are Chinese. In fact 98% of them are Chinese. The whole school culture may be too Chinese for our banana family. Another concern is the distance of school and home. PCGS and Phor Tay are located at the northern eastern side of the island and our home is at the southern eastern part. Logistically it is not ideal. We can’t really tell the traffic condition during rush hour.  We paid RM50 for registration. We could easily secured a place by paying the first month fees, but we weren’t really sure. At least now that we have paid Rm50, shall there be no more place, we will still be in the wait list.  I can’t remember the number of classes for each form. It’s just a small scale school with small class size.

PCGS’s home science lab


My top choice is Han Chiang. The main reason is that it offers IGCSE course. They are going to have 10 classes for Junior 1 next year. 5 UEC classes and 5 IGCSE course. Distance wise, it is comparatively closer than PCGS and Phor Tay. This school takes in international students as well. In a way, the students will have better exposure than other CIS. They also have teachers from other ethnicity.

We have not brought JS to do a school visit. Shall she not able to get into Han Chiang, will she want to consider the other three.

All these four schools offer boarding. But at this moment, we won’t be considering boarding.

Fees comparison for the four CIS in Penang Island

Entrance Exam Fees 50 50 20 20
Upon Registration 530 530 50 302 500 360
Monthy Fees 250 250 200 330 500
IGCSE 1000
3580 4580 2050 3992 6500

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Aug 28 2014

Chinese Independent School In Klang

Published by under Education

It’s time of the year again where Chinese Independent Schools start to recruit new students for 2015.  There are four Chinese Independent School in Klang which is quite near to where I am staying. Three of the schools are accessible via the highway from my township and another has to use the inner trunk road.

Hin Hua is the most sought after school among the four CIS in Klang. Impressive school facilities. Maybe due to popularity, new recruits need to sit for entrance exam.  This is the only one among the four that student need not go back to school on Saturday. This is also the nearest from our home which is accessible through the highway.

Both Pin Hwa and Kwang Hua do not have entrance exam. These two are further away and accessible via another highway.

I wonder why Chung Hua seems to the least popular one though I have heard good feedback from one of my friend whose son is studying there.

Below is the comparison of the school fees.  Fees paid upon registration includes Jan school fees, misc fees like building fund, donation, Computer Fees etc.



Hin Hua Chung Hua Pin Hwa Kwang Hua
Entrance Exam Fees 20 20
Upon Registration 960 870 1052 845
Monthy Fees 285 270 340 285
Annual Payment for Junior 1 3830 3590 4112 3410

I have wanted to bring JS to visit these schools earlier on. But now there isn’t need anymore.

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Aug 27 2014

Secondary School Option For JS

Published by under Education

I have not really given it a thorough thought until after the first quarter of this year. All the while I was thinking, no matter where she continues her studies, the most important aspect to thrive and be successful does not solely depend on school and teachers. As someone that believes in homeschooling, I feel that the family and I also have a part to play to help her to be successful. We can always supplement her learning with whatever flaws and shortcoming in our current education system. I wish to remain positive that no matter what system we are thrown in, we just move along with the flow and work out the best of it.

As much as I wish to remain positive, but I can’t help to feel a little unsettled each time this subject is discussed among friends. Can’t help not to be worried by their feedback. There are also articles on media stating the drastic deterioration of the standard of our education system. Generally, the people who are a little more informed and educated are feeling very disturbed with this news.  I see so many friends and people around me opted for alternative education. Then I started thinking, if I have the power to choose, would I just do nothing and just go with the flows.  Of course there will always be pros and cons on whatever system I chose for JS. There will never be a perfect system. Now, it’s a matter of weighing out which is the better option.

Homeschooling is out of option as I know I wont get support from family members and without that I wont have confident to do it. Moreover, I still long for my own time to do something I am passion for and not stuck at home homeschooling my kids.

Private/International schools fees are out of our capabilities

Homeschool/Learning centres – Too expensive. Moreover it’s not even schools but classes are carried out in shoplots. There isn’t much co-curriculum activities to participate in and need to fork out extra money to send JS for extra activities and skill classes.

Now the option I have left with is either Public School or Chinese Independent Schools

Option 1 – SMK in our neighbourhood. The only one in our community which is less than 5km radius from home.

It’s not a bad school. In fact the school performed well academically last year for their SPM as one of the top school in the Klang district. The pro is , it is very near home. Only less than 10 minutes drive. I have overheard one parent from JS’s school mentioning that she wont consider any other school than this school for her son, as it’s the nearest. She can’t imagine her son having to travel out of this township for the next five years daily to go school.

I have friends whose children are in the school. But 90% of them won’t enroll their other children in the school. According to my friends that their children are studying there, they said that the first 5 classes of every form is good class with dedicated teachers. The last few classes are the left behind classes where teachers don’t even enter classes.  Anyway, that’s not the reason why they won’t enroll their other kids in the school. It’s all because the syllabus. Two years plus ago, the ministry of education started implement this new PBS system. It’s a lousy planned system whereby teachers don’t even know what is exactly going on. Teachers are spending way more time on paperwork than teaching. As it’s a assessment based system , the students are given more works and all small assessment marks are accounted for. The students are at lost. They don’t know what to expect out of the system. Everyday living in fear and stress. As they may be test in class every now and then without prior notice. And now at the very last minute, they are saying there is PTS to replaced PMR.

Hubs likes SMK. He said that we are Malaysian, staying in Malaysia and possibly the kids will work in Malaysia. Hence the kids need to be able to speak Malay and be able to blend in and interact with the other ethnic group.  ( I do agree with that as both of us were from SMK )

Option 2 – SMJK (you can read more about SMJK characteristics here

We have one SMJK nearby which is about 16km away. It’s the sister school of the primary school that JS’s is attending. Which mean the schools are govern and manage by the same board of directors. Hubs and me had visited the school. Don’t really like the location of the school and later I found out from a friend that saying the reputation and performance of this SMJK is not as good as the SMK in our neighbourhood. Which proof that SMJK may not be more superior and excellent than normal mainstream secondary school as many believe.

We do not have any ex missionary schools in our area. Hence that is out of my option.

Come to think of it, even if I have more SMJK or ex missionary schools to choose from, it really does not make much difference as what initially put me off from selecting public secondary school is the syllabus used. SMJK, ex missionary schools and SMK , all share the same syllabus.

Earlier this year, I have asked my aunt’s and parent’s opinion on this matter. I also spoke to a old classmate of mine who is currently a public secondary school teacher.

My dad is a little out of date. Since he left the public school 20 years ago, he hasn’t been keeping up with what’s the changes in the syllabus. I asked him about his current students in college which are from public schools. But I think the number is too insignificant to show the quality of our education system. Morever his students now were still using the old syllabus and most of them are there on scholarship.  They told me no harm letting JS try Chinese Independent School

As for my aunt’s opinion. She didn’t say much about the new PBS system. As she is still teaching the old syllabus. She said her two daughters were the product of public school system and did quite well now in college/tertiary education. I asked if she would let her son continue in public school, she told me that if no money there will not be any other choice. I am quite surprise. My aunt is not really that poor as both husband and wife are working. I think she probably want to save the money for tertiary education for her children. I am also very surprise she didn’t mention about homeschooling whereby she is a very staunch christian. I have not spoken to her since my cousin started Form 1 early this year. I don’t know if her view of public school system, especially the new PBS system has changed her view on our public school system. I don’t know if she would let her other son goes to public school next year.

I asked my friend if she as a secondary school teacher, will she let her daughters go to public school. She said, if she is financially capable, she will enroll both her daughters into chinese independent schools.

These are just some collective opinions. Everyone making decision that suits their need the best. My choice will also be what suits the best of us in our situation.

Sometime earlier last month, the school gave out a form for us to fill on school selection. Usually there are three options to choose from. These three options are usually within the primary school feeder zone. They also had a talked for parents. School invited the sister schools principals (SMJK CH and CH Independent School) to introduce the school to the students and parents.  I did not attend that briefing.

Was told that it is compulsory to fill the form even though one has decided to go for alternative schooling. (Private or homeschool)

 Option 3 Chinese Independent School

We have our reserved on letting her further her studies in CIS initial.  We are concerned that she continue in a Chinese school her command of English will deteriorate. More over Mandarin is not her strongest subject. At heart, we are still very banana. ILs and hubs who has very little knowledge about CIS are concerned if the cert is recognizable. Anyhow, somehow they mellow down and agreed to let JS try for CIS.  There are four CIS near my neighbourhood. All four are about 20km away from home (30 minutes drive is considered near , as JS has classmates that is attempting to enroll into another more popular CIS is KL center which is 40km away. There are students and teachers commute daily of that distant from our township).  My hope for her to go into CIS is that apart from emphasizing on academic, they put a lot of focus on co-curriculum as well. I know my JS is not the academic type but excel in co-curriculum. I want her to have more choices in choosing co-curriculum and be a leader in it. This is one advantage of CIS which SMK may not be able to provide her with.

Over the months, we have spoken to JS so to let be part of the decision making team. At the same time giving her the facts of all aspect of government public schools and CIS. I know deep down, her preference is to be studying in an environment where English is the medium of conduct. She likes to have friends (irregardless of races and ethnic groups) that is more “banana” in thinking – speak English, listen to English Hitz etc.  Will see how things turn out to be.

Given some reasons, there are friends who suggested us to relocated to the island where there are better school choices. Which over months of thoughtful consideration, the decision is now final.

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Aug 27 2014

Secondary School Choices In Malaysia

Published by under Education

It’s the time of the year where parents of Standard 6 students are in cross roads again. It’s time to decide where to let their children to further their studies as choices can be aplenty. Well, often parents don’t wait until this last moment to make decision. Often than not, they have already make up their mind much earlier, as early as when the students are still in Std 5.

Let’s see what option we have in Malaysia

1) Be a true blue homeschooler. Self study at home. Be it unshooling or setting up/joining a coop
2) What commonly known as homeschool centres. It’s more appropriate to call them learning centre or resource centre. Usually classes carried out in shop lots and fees ranging around RM700-RM800 a month. These learning centres are gaining popularity rapidly the last two years
3) Private schools
4) International schools
5) Chinese Independent Schools
6) Public Schools

It’s interesting to note that even in our public schools, there are many categories of it.

- Sekolah Akademik (sekolah harian or berasrama penuh/full boarding) . In this category, it can split into
>Elite Schools
>Cluster Schools
>Sekolah Menengah Mubaligh : The missionary schools of the British Colonial days , like Convent, St Anthony,
Methodist, Ave Maria, St Michael etc
>SMJK:Malaysian Chinese conforming schools classified as Government-aided schools. Where 95% of the students are from
Chinese primary schools. Chinese principal running the schools.
>Sekolah Bestari
>Sekolah Wawasan
>Sekolah Amanah
>Sekolah Berprestasi Tinggi

-Sekolah menengah teknik dan vokasional
-Sekolah Seni
-Sekolah Sukan
-Maktab Rendah Sains MARA (MRSM) – Which they offer IGCSE for form 1 students

- Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama (Islamic Religious School)

Of all these public schools, it’s common for students to be assigned to any normal academic day schools (including SMJK and former missionary schools) near where they stay.  Those with excellent academic result can put in application to get a place in cluster schools. As for the other subcategory public schools especially like the Mara Junior science college, it’s a little hard for non bumiputra to get in. As there is always a quota for non bumi students. And of course religious schools is also out of our options.

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Jan 06 2013

Perpustakaan Raja Tun Uda Shah Alam

Published by under Education,Going Places

We love books, but we have never (ok.. only once) visited the public library. The national library is too far away in downtown KL which I only visited once with my dad when i was young. During the year end holiday in2011 I brought the kids to the library in Bandar Sunway located in kompleks 3c but the book collection was miserable and we were not impressed and didn’t feel like going back again.

Sometime early last year, I read about the new library located in Shah Alam and had made a mental note to bring the kids there for a visit. Since I never have good impression with our local libraries, I was skeptical if this library would turn out to be our liking and if we ever manage to find any books we like.

On the 28/11 morning, I had to go to i-city to run some errand and since I am already in Shah Alam vicinity, I thought making a trip to the library after I have got my things done.

The library is huge and is nestled in the lush of green , next to the Selangor Golf Club (KGSAAS) in seksyen 13.

A very serene drive way leading to the library.

The library looks grand from the outside

Majestic view from the inside. The Shah Alam mosque make up the backdrop

We headed to the children’s area called Zon Kreatif first , which is located at the ground floor towards the right , just after the entrance. We were asked to take off our shoes and store it at the shelves. This is the area specially for the below 10. Facilities available at this zone are Reading Tree, Creative Zone (where free or paid craft session is held), Cyber Zone where one get to used the PC and internet surfing, Iterative Zone where one can play Nintendo Wii. Didn’t check for the charges for using these facilities though.

It’s very spacious. We had a good feel and good impression upon entering it.

The Reading Tree area

There’s a stage as well as TV area. The first time we were there , they were playing the HK movie CJ7, can’t remember what movie they put on the second time we were there.

After we stayed longer, one think that put us off was the noise. Perhaps this is a kinder area, it was very noisy and no proper control. Three times we were there, children did not behave as they should in a library. They were running around, playing hide and seek, playing catch etc. It makes it very unpleasant to concentrate and read. The Reading Tree area though look nice and inviting to chill out and read, but it also invites children to play too. The slope is a perfect place for them to run up and down, slide and roll down. And because it’s hollow underneath, when the kids were running, rolling on it, it cause a ruckus of noise. Those parents not only did not stop their children but on the other hand encourage and applause to what they kids do (especially the tumbling and rolling down part from the slope)

This photo was taken on our first visit. It was during school holidays. Imagine a grown up kid like this didn’t know how to behave. She was climbing up the bookshelf and trying to slide down thinking that it is a slide at the park

This is another no brainer. The mother encouraged her children to balance, walk , slide down from the bookshelf.

Anyhow we are pleasantly surprise to see some good collection of Chinese Picture Books in the library. Good quality books they are, some award winning books. These are the books my kids love and which we have been renting from the book rental before it ceased operation.

These were some books the kids picked on our third visit and can’t made up their mind which to borrow first.

Books we borrowed on our first visit

Books we borrowed on our second visit. We were two days late in returning them, and were fined for RM1 for late return for above books.

On our third visit, we only borrowed 4 books, including a brand new Double DORK diaries. WH actually picked another two machinery books but they were green tag books, which mean reference and not to be borrowed out.

Registration to be a member is free. Borrowing books is free. Which member can borrow up to three books a time for a duration of three weeks. I only registered for myself, WH and JL. JS does not have a MyKid hence I can’t register her online, I need to do a manual form filling application for her. I thought JE was too young to be a member (actually she can). If with five membership, I can borrow up to 15 books a time for FREE. Quite a good deal. And we really like the book collection there. We thought of not borrowing any books on the third visit. Though it’s only 20 minute drives from home, but school has started, making a trip to a library to return books before its due date can be quite a commitment , but still, we can’t resist on our third visit.

The whole library has 6 floors , amounting to 18,992 mps. It is very huge. Even after three visit, I have not ventured around the whole library. The upper floors cater to adult. Children below 10 are not allowed to go up. (JS attempted, but was stopped). I can’t go obviously as the younger kids are tagging along and I can’t just leave them alone at the kids zone.

Lobby/lounge on the ground floor at the opposite wing from Zon Kreatif. This is a much quieter and conducive environment to read and do homework.

Impressive architecture. This is the view from the ground floor looking up to the upper floors from the lounge area.

Other facilities available at this library are Gym, Meeting room, Seminar Room, 6D & 3D theater, Cafe and the latest is Tutti Frutti.

Operating Hours

Monday : 10a.m – 7pm
Tuesday – Friday : 9.30a.m – 7p.m
Saturday – Sunday : 9.30 a.m – 9 p.m (except for Kid’s zone which close at 7.00p.m)


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Dec 16 2012


Published by under Education

Last Tuesday night, I attended a talk on “Intro to Waldorf Education and supporting Waldorf At Home: Practical Guide” by Whitney McDonald.

Whitney hails from North Carolina, USA. He received his Masters in Education and Waldorf teacher’s certification at Antioch University. He taught and coached for 14years at the Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill, NC. Whitney has lectured on Education, both domestically and abroad. He currently has on-going projects in China, Hong Kong and Korea. He has also been active in Hands-in-Peace, an international organization which brings young people from societies in conflict together for cultural healing through athletics and cultural sharing.

When he was sharing about child development, the stages of growth, I can help to notice so many similarities with the Montessori interpretation, just that the terms used are different.

Anyone, one very profound point that I have picked up was
“Freedom is NOT about doing whatever we want. If that’s the case, we are just being a slave to our desire. And we will not be able to do things that we need to do to be better. FREEDOM is ability to choose to live by the truth we believe in. And sometime, that mean we need to do things that we don’t like doing.–Whitney MacDonald.”

I also like what he said “Children have to learn to think and create in order to successful as adults!”  Through waldorf education, children are taught to feel too. THINK, CREATE and FEEL. Feeling is important, so that they can relate to the environment, to the people around, so that they are not selfish and self centered, so that they are loving and compasionate, so that they don’t loose their conscience.

Though I am a montessorian, but I also like the waldorf philosophy a lot. They really do have a lot of similarities. What I do is to pick up the essence of both and apply it to my children.

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Sep 13 2012

What Do Our Kids Learn In School

Published by under Education

When I was a school student, especially during secondary school, I love to answer objective questions where multiple answers were given for us to choose the correct one. I lie this type of question because I kind off give up studies in my secondary schools years and with that I can still “tembak” to possibly score/pass the papers.

Now that I am a mother coaching my own kids, I have come to hate objectives questions. Because I never seem to be able to get the correct answer. Every option given seems to be the correct answer.  I have come to realize that our education system only train robots. If the student is good at memorizing, they will score. They need not think and obviously not allowed to analyze.

Take for example this question I just stumbled upon. (this is just a tip of an iceberg… every questions are almost similar)

The question : which is the correct match of habitat to the animals. Bird – bush, snail – underground, monkey – tree, tiger – cave.

If one reads enough of encyclopedia , watch National Geography and have a vast exposure to nature, you will know that all answers are correct.  Bird does not just live in tree, there are species that build their nest in bushes. Snail – Snails are quite plentiful in the world so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn they are found in very diverse habitats, tiger s – they do have dens in cave.

Of course the answer given was Monkey – tree , which is very generalized.

If your child does not score the perfect scores during school exam, don’t blame your child and get panic. Check their exam paper. Sometimes it is not your child’s fault. It does not mean that your child is not learning and catching up with their school work. It is just the exam paper’s fault, which is too rigid.


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Words Of Wisdom

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

~ Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
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