By Angain Kumar
There are a number of self-funded and managed independent private schools in and around Ipoh. Although they may be an irritant to the education authorities, due to their “seemingly uncompromising attitude in towing nationalistic lines”, their existence is for a reason. They are being hailed by many, especially among the moneyed, as a suitable alternative for parents wanting a “balanced, liberal and unfettered” educational grounding for their children. Education, incidentally, is big business in Malaysia. And the proliferation of educational institutions is testimony to this transcending evolutionary trend.
In this second instalment on education, Ipoh Echo will highlight the integrity of three independent private schools, one managed by a Christian society and the other two, by Chinese entrepreneurs.
Christian Values, Confucian Principles and Shanghai Educational System
Wesley Methodist School
Wesley Methodist School, Ipoh (WMSI) occupies the building that was formerly known as Methodist High School, Ipoh. Unlike its predecessor, which offered secondary education up to sixth form, WMSI provides both primary and secondary education from primary one to six and Forms one to five.
Being a Christian mission school, it seeks to inculcate Christian values in tandem with the school’s motto, “Above and Beyond”. It is unique, having been borne out of divine intuition and is largely modelled after the much sought-after Wesley Methodist School, Kuala Lumpur. The emphasis, besides mainstream education, is character development and discipline.
The syllabus offered here is Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Rendah (KBSR) for primary students and Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah (KBSM) for secondary students. Apart from that, it too caters to students wanting to take Bible Knowledge, Mandarin and the Higher English Syllabus (Singapore). It observes a specific teaching module with small-group classes for those in need of such lessons.
Emphasis on English Language
According to Ms Chong Soo Mooi, headmistress of the primary section, most parents enrol their children in the school because it provides a more sensible approach to education.
Students’ school works are constantly monitored and an open-door policy is adopted when it comes to the parents dealing with members of the teaching staff. Emphasis on English Language is the other contributing factor. “We don’t believe in only academics. Education should not be confined to the classroom alone; it should include other aspects as well,” she stressed.
The other aspects include extra-curricular activities and excursions. Uniformed bodies such as Girls and Boys Brigade, music and school projects are some of the extra-curricular activities on offer. A recent collaborative effort by the primary and secondary sections enabled the school to successfully stage ‘The Sound of Music’. The play attracted much positive feedback from both parents and the public.
A walk around the school reveals the many facilities it has to offer. They include laboratories, library, chapel, workshop and a drama room. The laboratories are specifically for physics, biology, chemistry and general science. Sporting facilities available are a basketball court and a playing field with a 400-metre tartan track to boot.
Testimonials from parents reinforce its claim as one of the leading private schools in Ipoh. Dr Jeffrey Rowlands commented, “It’s fortunate that I transferred my daughter from a premier girls’ school to Wesley Methodist. She now enjoys learning and is more creative in her work.”
WMSI comes under the purview of the Methodist Council of Education, Malaysia. The council is responsible for the school’s finances and administrative matters.
For enquiries, contact 05 254 5122 or 012 568 3738. Wesley Methodist School Ipoh is located at 42 Jalan Silibin, 30100 Ipoh.
Poi Lam High School
Poi Lam High School, Lahat offers a mix of Malaysian and international syllabuses for students. They can choose to sit for the Unified Examination Independent Chinese Secondary Schools (UEC) or the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). The school also offers the newly-introduced Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah (PBS) for its junior entrants. Students can also opt for the General Certificate of Education and the Senior Cambridge examinations.
According to Chan Weng Kwai, the human resources department chief, parents choose the school because of the programmes it offers. The school has recently obtained a 5-star rating from the Education Ministry and is working hard towards improving its delivery system.
ISO 9001 Certification
“We’re aiming to obtain the ISO 9001 certification. Its attainment will bolster the confidence of the parents in the school,” he added.
In line with its efforts to secure the certification, procedures and data management of the school are held under tight scrutiny in compliance with the Personal Data Protection Act.
Classrooms are fitted with close-circuit television system so the principal can keep a watch on teachers and students. The school adheres to the principles, virtues and teachings of Confucius. A large statue dedicated to the thinker is erected near the entrance to the school.
During my walkabout, I marvelled at the huge space the school sits on. Facilities available within the school blocks include computer and science laboratories, multi-purpose halls, covered basketball and badminton courts and two playing fields.
One of the advantages of this school is that it caters to international students and those from outside the state. It has an impressive hostel that can accommodate 400 students and is equipped with bunks, a study area, internet connectivity and air conditioning. The hostel is a suitable option for the 98 foreign students who come from as far as the United Kingdom, America, Canada and China.
Besides the usual co-curricular societies like scouts and St John Ambulance, Poi Lam has its own military band and a Chinese orchestra. According to Chan, there are dedicated hours where students are able to partake in activities outside the classroom. This, he said, was to enhance the student’s development and produce an all-round individual.
For enquiries about the school, call 05 321 8120 or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Its official website: www.poilam.edu.my.
Poi Lam High School is located at Lot 18274, Jalan Simpang Pulai, Pengkalan, 31500 Ipoh.
Yuk Choy High School
Unlike its twin national school, Yuk Choy High School offers the Unified Examination Independent Chinese Secondary Schools (UEC). The system is divided into a 3-year Junior Course and a 3-year Senior Course. Students enrol in the Junior Course after their primary education. Lessons are conducted in Mandarin, except for Bahasa Malaysia and English. Those who do not have sufficient Mandarin skills are placed in remove classes to improve their proficiency in the language before proceeding with their secondary education.
Upon completion of the Junior Course, students have the choice to opt for separate streams namely, Science; Arts and Design; Commerce and Automotive. Students too have a choice to sit for their SPM examination but have to be tested for their Bahasa Malaysia and English language ability and obtain the consent of their parents.
Hostel and “Success Education”
Principal Soh Mun Sing briefed on the activities and facilities available at the school. It boasts an enrolment of 1448 students. There are the usual facilities like multimedia and science laboratories, an automotive workshop and hostel. The hostel can accommodate over 350 students and is equipped with a pantry area, recreational space, karaoke room, gym and a common study area. Most of the hostel occupants come from various parts of Malaysia. There are a handful of foreign students too.
Co-curriculum activities are similar to regular schools. Besides the usual uniformed bodies, the school too has a drum society, a cultural dance society, a Chinese orchestra and a wushu club. Recently it embarked on an education initiative known as, “Success Education”. It is a concept borrowed from the Shanghai education system. The system standardises three aspects of schooling namely, management, teaching and discipline. It provides for a more efficient method in managing the students’ education.
“The report by Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) highlighted the efficiency of schools in Shanghai. We decided to adopt the programme in order to obtain better results from the students,” he added.
Yuk Choy High School is an attractive option for parents. The 6-year curriculum encompasses all teaching levels from lower secondary to pre-university. Using, the qualifications obtained from the 6-year internship, students can then choose to further their studies in local private or foreign universities.
As of the date of this article, the government has yet to recognise the UEC examinations for entry into public universities.
For details call 05 526 0963 or 05 526 7912. The school’s website: www.yukchoy.edu.my. Yuk Choy High School is located at Lot 14737, Jelapang, 30200 Ipoh.
(All three schools have refused to disclose their fee structures for obvious reasons).