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Pre-school Chinese class for Malay students

  • The teacher teaching Malay kids some simple Chinese characters. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • A teacher teaching the students numerals and how to pronounce them. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Members of the school board inspecting the pre-school Chinese class. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Students learning to write Chinese characters correctly. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Multimedia teaching equipment used at the pre-school Chinese class. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

PONTIAN, Sept 11 (Sin Chew Daily) -- “I'm learning your language and you're learning mine.”

Through learning each other's languages under the same roof, the seed of cultural exchange and harmony has been sown, and intercommunity relationship reinforced.

In Ayer Baloi, a Malay-dominant town in Pontian, Johor, the local Chinese school SJKC Khai Chee has taken the initiative to organize a pre-school Chinese language class for non-Chinese children.

Positive response

When approached by Sin Chew Daily, the school's board chairman said it was the first time a Chinese school in state of Johor had started a free Chinese tuition class for non-Chinese children, and the response had been positive as Malay parents have sent their kids there for pre-school education before sending them to a Chinese primary school.

“90% of the residents in Ayer Baloi are Malays from all walks of life, including fishermen, farmers and civil servants.

“Seeing the progress made by their children here, they are more ready to send their children to a Chinese primary school in future.”

According to him, rural Malay parents are more open-minded and farsighted. They see the economic value of the Chinese language and are willing to send their children to his school next time.

Students' BM standard improved

Meanwhile, the school board's vice chairman said Malay students studying there would help improve the standard of the Chinese students' Bahasa Malaysia as they would have increased opportunity to interact and learn each other's languages. As a result, he said the school had scored 100% UPSR BM passing rate.

Stopping the downtrend

SJKC Khai Chee has organized the free Chinese class for Malay students in hope of reversing the school's sliding enrollment as a consequence of population aging and urban migration.

There are currently only 60 Chinese households in the vicinity., and the school's enrollment has plummeted from a high of 200 students to only 24 today, a third of whom Malays.

There are two national primary schools with a total of 300 students whom Khai Chee hopes to woo them over.

Despite the increasingly higher Malay student ratio at the school, the school board remains firm in preserving the characteristics of the Chinese primary school.

From 3 to 15

The school's principal told Sin Chew Daily there were only three Malay students registering for the free pre-school Chinese class when it started last March, but the number has increased dramatically to 15 this year.

He hoped that these kids, aged between 4 and 6, would enjoy learning Chinese there, as this would ensure a steady supply of new students for Khai Chee in future.

Kids told to master both Chinese, English

A Malay parent told Sin Chew Daily he decided to take his 6-year-old child there after learning about the free pre-school Chinese language class, adding that he would enroll his child at this school in future because he wanted his child to have a good command of both Chinese and English.

“Proficiency in Chinese will help my child in the job market in future.

Another parent said Chinese primary schools had an advantage over the national schools in their teaching system, as the children could focus more on learning besides better command of science and mathematics.

She said she had sent her two kids aged 5 and 7 to the pre-school Chinese class, and the older is currently year one student at Khai Chee.

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