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By Mohani Niza

MAINSTREAM education is a common choice in our society, but for a growing number of Malaysian parents, it’s simply inadequate. This is why they have turned to home-schooling.

There are many ways children are home-schooled: either at home or centres, with either parents or teachers supervising them.

Proponents speak about the benefits of home-schooling.

For one, home-schooling boosts performance. Numerous studies support this.

A study published by HSLDA — a home schooling group — found that home-schooled children in Los Angeles fared better than those who were exposed to the city’s public schools.

A similar research in New Mexico found a group of home-schoolers scoring 20 to 25% points higher than public school students in the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills examination.

Over the years, more and more parents have attested to the benefits of home-schooling.

Home-schooling, they argue, encourages independent thinking in ways that mainstream education does not.

David Tan is one such parent. An associate of Malaysian Home Educators Network and father of two boys, Tan says home-schooling allows his children to learn more efficiently.

He writes on his website that while at first his wife had to supervise his children, now it’s no longer the case.

The children, aged 12 and 14, he finds to his surprise, are now able to tackle their studies independently.

“Flexi-hours also mean time for extra-curricular pursuits such as music lessons, outdoor games, hobbies, projects, field trips, Bahasa Malaysia tuition, the occasional Home School Support Group meet, or whatever the children (or parents) fancy!

“Parents take responsibility for the child’s education. Although both parents play complementary roles, mum is usually the primary teacher or facilitator.

“Dad is known to take responsibility for a subject if mum feels inadequate, but, by and large, he provides the impetus, discipline and stability that make home-school possible.

“Usually mum spends time teaching if there is a new concept (in Maths, for instance) to learn. Once that sinks in, the child is pretty much on his own.”

“One of the good things about home-school is that it promotes independent and self-directed learning,” says Tan in his website calledHomeschool Homefrontier.

Mother-of-four Gina Yong had no option, but to pull her children out of the public education system after finding it ill-equipped. The teachers, she says, are not well-versed in English, pushing her towards the decision.

Her children, who attend a home-schooling centre, have done well since then.

“They are learning a huge variety of information and are notkatak di bawah tempurung(a Malay proverb that describes an outdated person),” she says.

Another young parent (who wished to remain anonymous) chose to home-school both her kids, aged 9 and 7, because she has no faith in the public education system.

As a trainer, she is very happy with the progress of her young ones.

“They are very good at problem solving, creative, spiritual, respectful and sensitive to other people’s needs.

“I am able to help my children internalise their learning experience. Such reflective learning is believed to enhance one’s creativity, talent and spirituality,” says the parent.

She adds that her children are not deprived or lonely as they have an active social life over the weekends with games, activities, arts and music lessons.

“A lot of people prefer to lie low if they are home-schooling their children because they don’t want to be judged or discriminated against, but I can say the numbers are big.”

Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim says that parents are simply fed-up with the change in policies affecting PPSMI (the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English) and the recent school-based assessments.

“Many parents think it’s a bigger gamble to place their children in national schools. Since the law does not specifically state whether home-schooling is legal or illegal and there hasn’t been any enforcement against it, parents rather just go ahead with it,” Noor Azimah tellsThe Rakyat Post.

Home-schooling is here to stay. Proponents of mainstream education have no choice, but to review their outdated attitudes.

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