24 August 2009

I need RM60k a year to prevent James from becoming stupid...

I've sort of known that government schools have been shite for quite some time already - but with our education ministry's constant flip-flopping of policies and the downward spiral of academic standards, it's becoming a very real problem for me.

Or rather, for James...

While I've always assumed that private schools are an alternative, it seems that even that isn't an option for some parents these days - because they're still tied to Malaysia's retarded education system (Today's SPM English paper is sooooo easy, I could probably score full marks on it when I was 12 years old!).

After reading this article on the Malaysian Insider, it has suddenly dawned upon me that, unless I can set aside RM60k a year to send James to International School, he might end up stupid. Holy shit.

James: needs RM60k a year to remain clever

And yes, it starts out at "only" RM10k a year for pre-school, but with 2-year waiting lists and ever-increasing tuition fees, you might as well budget for about RM60k a year to fight inflation. There's no way I'll afford that as long as I'm busy play... i mean MAKING video games for a living.

So what are my options, then?

1) - Send him to a private school
Hopefully, it won't cost as much, but it'll still eat into my wallet. And if Elaine and I have another kid, that's an even bigger financial burden. The worst part, though, is that there's no guarantee that the quality of teaching is any better.

I studied A-Levels in Taylor's College, and most of my lecturers there were AWFUL. And my parents paid good money for that. Plus, I was also a lazy dumbshit so my parents had to spend even MORE money to send me to private tuition classes. In hindsight, the irony is amazing.

The other problem is that James would end up socialising with stuck-up, spoilt brats who get dropped off by drivers in Toyota Alphards (which are only driven/owned by assholes). I don't want James mixing with sons of assholes who are probably assholes too.

Toyota Alphard: driven exclusively by double-parking, queue-jumping, tail-gating assholes

That, and he'll probably be crap at sports since its a known fact that rich kids are rubbish at sports, so he won't have any competition to play against. He needs to be beaten soundly in sports so he'll know the feeling of defeat and knows that he has to work harder so he can then have a rematch and totally pwn the other asshole's son.

2) - Bite the bullet and send him to government school
This actually makes more sense because it doesn't cost me any money, and James will probably end up more humble and/or well-rounded since he'll meet kids from all walks of life; that's one thing I remember from government schools.

However, his teachers are guaranteed to be shit, and he'll probably end up giving the English teacher private tuition. That, and he'll probably end up playing football, since most basketball/tennis/volleyball courts in government schools have now become makeshift hockey courts/ car parks.

Oh, and most government schools have totally shit facilities:
A typical multi-purpose hall in a government school

He'll also probably be the only Chinese kid in his class; which technically shouldn't be a problem - except that he'll probably have difficulty fitting in due to cultural differences.

Any other Chinese kid would probably only speak Mandarin (which James won't understand, since nobody in his family does), the Malay kids will be speaking proper Malay (as opposed to the sterilized Dewan Bahasa that we're all taught in school) - which he won't understand either - and all the Indian kids will be speaking in Tamil, which for some funny reason I think James might actually pick up.

This scenario is likely, simply because all the English-speaking kids are studying in private schools. I don't think James will forgive me...

3) - Move to Australia and take advantage of free education there
This is actually a very, very good idea - and James will no doubt love the fact that (for some reason) Asian girls who grow up in Australia end up becoming hot. Of course, he could end up with a white girl and fulfill Elaine's dream of having half-cast babies (in this case, grandkids) who will end up looking very beautiful and being casted in TV ads or as VJs on Channel V.

Also, there's no way the Australian education system is worse than ours. Also, James will probably be very active in sports, which is good.

The only downsides are that Elaine and I have to completely uproot our lives and attempt to make a living in Australia; which might be a bit hard for me since nobody will understand a word I say and then automatically assume that I've just got off the boat from China.

However, this remains one of the most appealing choices; especially if things turn out well.

4) - Move to Singapore
I like Singapore Zoo. I think James will like Singapore Zoo too. It's also the safest city in the world, which is a big plus. It's also very close to Malaysia, so visiting friends/family would be easy.

No idea how good their education system is, but i hear it's basically a more efficient version of ours.

In other words, James will come out of school wanting to be a lawyer/engineer/doctor/accountant and will be totally rubbish at sports. The difference from doing it in Malaysia is that ALL of his classmates will be exactly the same: highly efficient-but-soulless individuals with fantastic credentials on paper.

Disclaimer: Of course, I'm basing all this on the stereotypes we Malaysians have of Singaporeans. I've met Singaporeans who are totally unlike this (Hi, Colin!)

I have no idea how much it will cost to have James study in Singapore, so I'll still have to think about this. Singapore Zoo.... Mmmm...

5) - Keep complaining until someone does something about it.
Given the way the country's been run for the past 50 years, it's easy to forget that free, high-quality education for our children should be a basic right.

The root of the problem is our country's diversity; we all speak different languages, come from different backgrounds and have different priorities in life. And in spite of this, the education ministry continues to attempt to find a one-size-fits-all solution, which is impossible.

Browse around the web and you'll find a lot of people (me included) who believe that re-introducing English-medium schools will solve the problem; simply because the decline in our education system's standards seem to coincide with the introduction of Malay as the primary medium of instruction. But that's basically because we are English-speaking, so of course we'd want to see the return of English.

But as long as we have history lessons that only briefly touch world history, physical education classes where the teachers don't know anything about sports, art classes that only teach you how to paint and science classes that completely ignore the revolution of the Internet, our education system will remain completely irrelevant.

And as long as we treat teaching as a profession for people who aren't qualified to do anything else, any syllabus that the government comes up with will never be effective.

The day the government realises and fixes these problems, I'd certainly send James to a government school.

And on that day, me and thousands of others wouldn't have to write blogs or post comments about this matter anymore. On that day, I would consider Malaysia a developed nation.
"Umm... Do you think they heard us, arr...?"