Thursday January 3, 2013
Many bumiputra parents prefer children to be trilingual
By YU JI
KUCHING: At the crack of dawn, Coryina Slimin woke up her child to prepare for school for the first time. By 7am, they had arrived at SK Song Kheng Hai here, a primary school that uniquely offers both the national syllabus and Chung Hua primary school syllabus.
When the teacher arrived in class, Coryina was observing from outside and taking photos with an iPhone.
The teacher greeted the children with, chao an, which is, “good morning,” in Mandarin.
“My husband and I want our child to be trilingual,” said Coryina, who is Orang Ulu.
“My husband is Malay, well, actually, he is a mix of everything. Anyway, we joke that the best thing for the family will be for us all to learn Chinese together,” Coryina told The Star.
Coryina said she believed there was a growing number of bumiputra mothers who preferred their children to be trilingual.
“There are a lot of bumiputra parents enrolling their children in Chung Hua schools. It’s quite normal to do that in Sarawak.”
Sarawakian diving queen Pandelela Rinong Pamg and all her siblings speak, read and write Chinese fluently. Pandelela went to government-aided Chinese school SRK Stampin. At some Chung Hua schools in places like Betong, almost half of the pupils are non-Chinese.
“There are many bumiputra pupils in Chung Hua schools. It’s high time that children learn English, Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese,” Coryina said.
But the mother of one said she was worried about how her child would fare in the new environment. The sales executive with a shipping company said she was feeling “a little bit emotional”.
“In a way, yes, it can be a little bit sad. They grow up so fast, and also, unlike all the other children here today, who are used to a Chinese-speaking environment, my child is making an important transition today. But it’s OK. Even though we only have one child, we don’t pamper. He didn’t cry coming to school this morning. Children today are more independent, almost all have been through kindergarten,” Coryina said.
SK Song Kheng Hai is a small school compared to most other Chinese-medium schools in the state.
Parents like Coryina said the small classroom size – of the two Year One classes at SK Song Kheng Hai, one had 19 pupils, the other had 18 – was an important consideration.
“We considered SRB Chung Hua Primary School No. 4 but that school had too many students.”
The Ting family also choose SK Song Kheng Hai for its small pupil population and its central location, along Jalan Padungan and next to Kuching’s main rugby field.
“Our children are eight and nine years old, one is in Year Three, the other in Year Four,” said Ting SL.
“Small classes are better, but it is not enough for a good education. For me, I feel they all need to attend tuition classes. They have to be better than the previous generation. Every year, it gets more challenging; people have higher expectations.”
Ting said his children were tutored in all subjects, including during the school holidays, Mondays to Fridays, between 9am and 10.30am, and 2pm and 4.30pm.
“Of course they don’t want to go,” Ting said when asked if his children had complaints about tuition during the holidays.
“They say they want to sleep more lah, all sorts of things. But if the tuition starts at 5pm, they’ll also say they want to sleep more.”