Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Chinese Or Kebangsaan School?

Mumsgather asked me for my input on this issue. Even though I have this as a comment on her site, thought I'd post my reply here too (since I already burned plenty of grey cells to compose it).

I chose the Kebangsaan school nearby because of convenience. But mind you, when I was still living in PJ, I did enrol my daughter at a chinese school. So, like many parents, I was two minds about it. Eventually it came down to these few things:

1. Is it really that important to me that she learn chinese? This question will be unique to each parent. As for me, it's not really high on my priority list. Her life is not going to be dependent on it. I know some people think it's a shame when you're chinese and can't speak chinese. Well, shame on me then. I do speak some hokkien though. Anyway, I look at it as just another skill. There are so many skills out there to learn. Why give soooo much emphasis on just one?

2. Is chinese school the only answer to learning chinese? Some people say yes, some people say no. I figure it depends on the child. If the child really is interested in the language, they'll pick it up whatever the method, be it through school or tuition. But if they don't care for it, it would be like "dragging a horse to water but not making it drink" sort of thing. They'll probably learn the language but hate it at the same time. Also have to remember that there is no time limit or age barrier to learning chinese. My mother is a good example. Because she had the DESIRE to learn, even though already in her 60s, she joined a class and enjoyed herself thoroughly learning the language with good friends.

3. Love of learning is more important. I didn't want my daughter to "suffer" or struggle and lose sight of why she is learning. Yes, in the kebangsaan school now she has a lot of 'free' time. She finishes her work at school and come home with no work. I don't have to "suffer" getting her to finish her work. She gets to go to bed by 9pm. I am still in charge of her education. We still have time to learn whatever we want to learn. It's like part time homeschooling. But then, I know this option is not for everybody. It depends on your situation and your outlook of what "real" education is.

It's a shame that we have to choose between two evils. But instead of looking at "chinese school" vs. "kebangsaan school", we would do better at looking at the schools individually. Even among chinese school and kebangsaan school, there are good and bad variations. Maybe it's not good to lump them all into one generic category.
Personally, if I had a choice, I would send my kids to a mission school or a school with strong traditions like Convent. Even though not as good as before, but standards still okay right?


  1. Its a tough call. But I reckon the kids can still learn mandarin etc. The Js enjoy it very much now, that way they learn faster also :)

    We shall see how they go in Keb. school anyway. :) I want happy go lucky kids who enjoy their childhood also kan?

  2. Reading about this makes me recall the sudden outburst or comment made by my mother-in-law when my dotter is just a newborn baby. As I did not go through Chinese school but I know how to speak Mandarin due to television and speaking with friends and family at home. Therefore I do like my child to know more chinese than I do. But at the same time I also worried about the kinda of workload and pressure the my child might need to go through. At one point of time, My mil actually mentioned "Of course your dotter gonna put in Chinese school(they seems oredi had decided on it for us) or else the grandpa would be really MAD!(coz my fil is those pro Chinese school type and even became te chariman for some sort of Chinese school associaion once). But coming to think of this again. ...if I were to choose te happiness of my dotter and obeyance to their wishes, I will not hesitate to put the first as my priority but still make sure they learn the language and culture outside the class and "pressure cooker" ;) that is send them to non-Chinese medium school but still expose them to Chinese culture and language..so that they learn for the love of it...not forced to.

  3. hi molly, cuddly family, I think there is no right or wrong answer to this. That said, I would insist that both my kids learn chinese. Not solely for the sake of learning another language, but the chinese language has a unique element in it...and that is, the characters...it resembles a drawing/pic and this stimulates a child's mind. It opens the door to other areas which alot of parents are not aware of..and many many other by the way benefits...the interest in a language must be nurtured...and it should start at home....i have written some posts re learning chinese...check it out if you are keen to know more....


    good luck..and do let me know if you need more tips in getting kids to be interested in chinese...

  4. http://cuddlyfamily.wordpress.com/2008/08/07/yet-another-tag/

    Tagggged you ;)

  5. My daughter's chinese school doesn't have that much homework. And why do i say that? It all depending on the child. She have no problem coping on her homework and has never complained that she has too much or too little homework. So I reckon the homework is not that much. Now I am confused.

  6. Cuddly family:
    That's great that the Js are loving their mandarin lessons. We can only hope that we've made the right decisions for them.

    It's going to be tough for you what with your in-laws strong belief. It's like treading on egg shells - it's your child so it's your decision but you also don't want to offend the old folks. But your daughter is blessed to have a mom who has the right kind of thinking ;)

    Thanks for sharing. I never really gave any thought to how the pictographs open a child's mind. Interesting thought.

    That's why it can be dangerous to give labels to chinese or kebangsaan schools. Each school is different and each child is different too.


Don't go without saying something. I would love to read your comments. BUT no junk comments please.