Guys, I’m angry.
I’m mad because I don’t know where to send my kids when it’s time for them to enter formal education.
A couple of weeks ago I went with a mom friend to visit a private elementary school for Fighter.
I know! I know! Fighter is only two and a half and I don’t know how much more kiasu I can get. But the truth is, it was the other moms in Fighter’s class who were talking about school visits and school fees and I got pressured and my kiasu level shot through the roof wtf.
Fatty and I have been talking about this for ages — even before we had kids — and we never got anywhere.
I’m mad that because we don’t have decent public education, parents of our generation are forced to consider alternative options — private school, international school, or even home schooling.
A friend met the principal of one of the international schools in Malaysia who said she felt sorry for us. “Decent education should be a right,” she said. “I feel sorry for you that you have to pay so much for it.”
And we do, that’s why I’m so angry!
I didn’t want to believe it because I’m a product of Malaysian government schools and I turned out just fine, as did most people I know. Sure, I faced some difficulties speaking up in class when I went to a US college. I had to learn how to think critically – which was never taught – instead of memorizing facts, but thanks to being a huge bookworm, I had no problems with language or articulating myself.
But everyone says that the standard of public education in Malaysia has plummeted until it’s now notorious. Horror stories and photos of wrong facts taught to students circulate on social media. Friends in Teach for Malaysia who have actual experience with teachers and students today say they’re disillusioned with the ministry and how things are run. That schools today are nothing like they were “back in our day”. That if they had the money, they’d opt for private education.
This is not merely hearsay. We’re not imagining things. Take these actual pages from an English textbook. Or these results from a PISA education ranking. Malaysia scores dismally (near the bottom in fact) for not only creative problem solving, but also math, science and reading. -_-
Which is why, guys, I’m angry.
I’m angry that our government has let our education standard slide until if we want something better for our kids, we have to resort to paying much more (for something which in my opinion should be a given right as taxpayers), or opt for less than ideal education plans.
Right now we have two options, government school not being one of them. One is Chinese vernacular school (whether government or independent), the other is international school.
Chinese education is thought of to churn out hardworking, disciplined students, who will confirm be very good at Mandarin, it being the medium of instruction.
But the downside is
- lots of homework (until no time to do anything else but homework),
- a kid who may not be encouraged to be different or think out of the box,
- extra classes to develop creativity, other skills, English, etc that Chinese school may not focus on — meaning kids may be deprived of a childhood in which they play rather than going to classes all the damn time
International school is attractive cos the syllabus is thought to be generally superior to the Malaysian one. It will hopefully facilitate learning as something fun rather than something compulsory, creative and critical thinking, and develop our kids as well rounded individuals over kids who spout facts from memory.
The cons are
- supercalifragilisticexpialidociously expensive (like can be up to RM1 mil per child, and that’s not even inclusive of university)
- kids may turn out snobs and subject to peer pressure cos with the prices, students will probably be all from rich families
- Pay so much, the school may not be good also. The certifiably good and established ones are also the most expensive.
Private education I’m not sure if it’s an option for us because while cheaper than international schools, private schools offer the local syllabus. Thus we’d be paying quite a lot more for our kids to follow a syllabus I don’t consider that good either.
Other people have also talked about home schooling, but I don’t know; I want our kids to have a proper school experience, not go to school in some office unit.
The irony is, maybe if we had less money, this would not be a dilemma, to put it bluntly. Private education would not be an option at all and we would make do with what we are given.
But because we may have the ability to provide better for our kids (the keyword is “may” ok, cos really dunno if we can afford it for their whole school lives) we debate and deliberate over whether this money is worth spending. Whether we should settle for a lower standard of living to give our kids a “better” education. Whether that education is worth that huge sum of money, whether they will turn out to be greater, cleverer people because of that, or whether they will be spoilt, ungrateful brats.
Or if we opt for Chinese school, whether we are depriving our children of real childhoods, where they learn and socialize through play. Whether a bubbly personality like Fighter’s will be stifled. Whether a child’s natural wonder at the world will be buried under a mountain of homework. Whether instead of a love of learning and reading, my children will instead learn to hate school.
Which is why I’m angry.