Why Are Malaysians Choosing to Homeschool?

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Homeschooling has become a popular option for Malaysians in recent years.

My eldest daughter is going to primary school soon and like any other parent, my goal is to get her into a good school. To say I'm not concerned with our current local education system would be putting it lightly.

I myself did my primary years in an international school, followed by government aided school in my secondary years. Having tried both worlds, I cannot deny the quality of education in terms of syllabus used, in international schools.

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BUT! International and private schools are so expensive it's not even funny. What I want ideally for my children, is not something we can realistically afford at the moment. Even my friends who had similar plans for their children have opted to send their kids to Chinese-medium public schools instead.

In fact, I see a lot of non-Chinese parents who also opt the same route.  Then I think: do I want to do this? If I commit to a Chinese-medium school, I will have to commit to extra tuition and be mentally prepared for the crazy amount of homework and their strict methods of teaching. I can guarantee there will be a lot of sweat and tears.

So what is the next best thing? Homeschooling. Wait, do you mean me? Staying home to teach?

There are essentially 3 types of homeschooling

  • parents teaching their children at home,
  • a group of families teaching their children together in a casual setting,
  • learning centres which apply homeschooling methods and syllabus.

Why homeschooling? Children can:

  • learn at their own pace
  • enjoy learning through activities or pleasure reading because some academic lessons are kept to a maximum of 3 hours a day
  • learn from a wide range of curriculum
  • come in at any time of the year because there is no intake period

In Malaysia, data is harder to come by, but industry insiders estimate that there are 3,000 to 5,000 Malaysian homeschoolers, the majority of whom keep a low profile as a primary school enrollment is compulsory by law in the country.

Under Section 29A of the Education Act 1996, parents who fail to enroll their children in school can be fined up to RM5,000, jailed up to six months, or both.

So is homeschooling against the law? The Ministry of Education seems to be well aware of the growing amount of homeschooled students to have this exception on their website.

You can read up on how to apply for homeschooling here too. I haven't heard or read of anybody getting into trouble for homeschooling, so I'm guessing as long as children were given proper and adequate education at home, it is acceptable.

Quality education and affordable fees are important factors why homeschooling centres are gaining popularity.

But is homeschooling for everybody?

What about social interactions or physical activities? Will kids be able to revert back if they want to? So far, most parents I know who have decided on homeschooling have not found the need to revert their children back to the national syllabus. Children learn the modules at their pace and sit for IGCSE as private candidates.

The IGCSE qualification is accepted as an equivalent to Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) certificate. Parents source external classes for sports and other extra curricular activities which also in turn satisfy the need for social interactions. There are also support groups where parents can come together and discuss solutions and the syllabus.

I think deciding whether homeschooling your children is the right path, is a very personal decision. There are a lot of factors to consider and it is a commitment you will have to see through till the end. But ultimately, decide what is best for your child, different doesn't always mean it's bad.