I just read MG's post about her daughter's timetable in a Chinese primary school. Once you break it down into the number of hours per week allocated for each subject, you'll be able to see what the school emphasises on.
Here's what Caitlin's school timetable is like per week:
English - 4.5 hours
Bahasa - 7.0 hours
Math - 5.0 hours
Science - 1.5 hours
Mandarin - 2.0 hours
Moral A - 0.5 hour
Moral B - 2.5 hours
Art - 1.0 hour
Computer - 1.0 hour
PE - 1.0 hour
Kesihatan - 0.5 hour
Music - 1.0 hour
Chapel - 1.0 hour
The school Caitlin goes to follows the national (government) school syllabus. The only difference is that since it's private, they choose to provide more time to teach English (5 hours vs 1 hour in MG's daughter's Chinese school) and Bahasa (7 hours). They provide extra English workbooks which are not in the national school's standard booklist. Meanwhile, time for Mandarin lessons (2 hours) is much less compared to a Chinese school (5 hours). And the standard of Mandarin taught is definitely lower than the one in Chinese schools, plus they use the Hanyu Pinyin method.
And since Caitlin's school is church-based, they also emphasise moral and wholistic (mind, body, spirit) education quite strongly as shown by the time allocated. Moral A is the subject in the government syllabus but Moral B are lessons based on the Bible, plus one chapel session every week. This brings back memories of my school days in MGS (Methodis Girls' School) which in those days was still a mission school. We had chapel too where we sang songs and listened to Bible stories.
I noticed that Caitlin's school allocates only 1.5 hours for Science which I feel is too little. It would be good if another half or one hour is given to Science, which could be taken from the Moral B allocation. Chinese schools on the other hand provide 3 hours of Science although 1.5 hours are taught in Mandarin and the other 1.5 hours in English. I wonder if what they learn in English and Mandarin are exactly the same. If they are, then what's the point other than learning the facts and scientific terms in two languages? I probably have to ask MG about this. And the poor kids have to take exams for one subject in both languages i.e. two papers.
Of course, it will be a totally new 'sickening' ballgame for everyone, especially the kids, if the government decides to revert to teaching Science and Math in Bahasa. This issue has been much debated over the past year. I vote for English for Science and Math. I learnt Science and Math in Bahasa during my time and did it help me when I got to university (I went to a local university for a Science degree where Bahasa was supposed to be the medium of instruction)? Nope. Were they applicable when I went out into the working world? Nope.
When will education in Malaysia be one where everyone can truly benefit from, regardless of race and income level mainly?