I went to 3 primary schools from Sekolah Rendah Sultan Ismail 1, in Kelantan to Sekolah Rendah Sultan Iskandar in Kedah and then Sekolah Rendah Kampung Tunku in Petaling Jaya. Primary school very much affected my upbringings. Though these were all Sekolah Kebangsaan and teaches similar syllabus, the environments and cultures (in three different states) shaped up my thought and mind. The quality as well as the approach of teaching differs too. So my first consideration will be the teacher’s attention (perhaps the teacher and student ratio) and the school environment hence, cleanliness especially toilets and canteen or cafeteria. During my time at school, some students shit and pee in class because the toilets were too stinky and unbearable to enter.
But I have to decide first to choose either a Malaysian or international syllabus. In choosing the syllabus, my main criteria is the time factor. Malaysia education system wasted too much time. Primary school starts at the age of 7 years old and ends at the age of 12 (standard 6). Secondary school starts at the age of 13 and finish with the Secondary Education Certificate (SPM) exam at the age of 17 but have to wait for the following year to begin their form 6 or A’levels. They will complete their A’ levels (or form 6 exam) at 20 years and start their undergraduate degree course for three years to graduate at the age of 23 years old.
British education system starts their primary school at the age of 6 and sits for their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) (Malaysia SPM equivalent) at the age of 15 (or 16 years old the most). They began the A’levels the same year in September as the GSCE exam is in June. Students will complete their A’ levels at the age of 17, to start their normal 3 years undergraduate degree course and graduate at 20 years old.
That is a saving of 3 years in studies. If the A’ levels is expedited to 1 year (instead of the normal 2 years) then there will be a total savings of 4 years in studies. There are other factors to consider but these years of saving in studies is important and should be a major factor to consider.
However, there are a long requirements and wait list to get into an International school. An assessment (with a high standard of passing) will be conducted and priorities are given to the expatriates and the Ministry of Education approval must be obtained. Aaraf is now on a wait list for the Garden International School which Aaraf is supposed to start in September this year (even before his 6th birthday). ELC international school is the second option given the logistic nearest to my house but both can only consider Aaraf for next year's intake.
Since Aaraf cannot start at the International school this year, I have to enrol him in a Malaysia education syllabus. Now I have to decide if I want to send Aaraf to a government school or a private school. What would be the criteria that I need to consider in deciding the choice between a government school and a private school?
Yes, the school environment especially the canteen and toilets are of utmost importance as well as the teacher and students ratio. Given the teacher and student ratio that would pleased my level of acceptance, I would think Sekolah kebangsaan will not be an option. With a teacher to 40-50 students per class, it will be difficult for even a good teacher to ensure all students received sufficient attention in details. It is even more ironic when most of our cabinet Ministers especially our Education Minister Dato Seri Hishamudin Tun Hiussein sends their children to either private schools or an international school signalling mistrust in our school and education system.
Since our Education Minister as well as other cabinet Ministers disbelief in our government schools, I shall not make government school an option and will consider private school instead. Since the nearest private school to my house is the Sri KDU with a teacher to only less than 30 students per class ratio, Sri KDU seems to be my best choice for now until Aaraf is accepted into Sri Garden International School or ELC.