By R.S. Kamini
HOME-SCHOOLING has its advantages, but whether parents who turn into pseudo educators are doing the right thing or not is another matter.
Not all parents can become good educators, and without proper skills and knowledge, home-schooling can complicate a child’s life in many ways, says Principal Consultant Child Psychologist Dr Chan WengLok from the International Psychology Centre.
Many parents are subjected to certain habits and conditioning so they need to receive proper training before they can take on the role as educators, he adds.
“They (parents) tend to pull their children out of schools because they find the institution to be ineffective in shaping their child based on their expectations.
“Parents, however, need to be equipped with the right parenting skills. They also need to develop a number of professional skills and foster a healthy relationship with their children, if they want to home-school them,” says Dr Chan, who is also the Malaysian Association of Psychotherapy president.
He indicates that home-schooling can be a stumbling block to a child’s development because every child must learn survival skills by being independent.
“When parents assert control over their children, there will be a tug of war. When forced, the child will become lonely and as result may drown in depression.
“This may lead to other psychological disorders. For parents, who are equipped to be teachers, the risks are minimal, but they are still there. The child must buy into the idea of home-schooling for it to work,” says Dr Chan.
He adds that apart from proper parenting skills, parents must also develop excellent interpersonal skills, flexibility, frustration and stress management skills, have emotional stability and mental readiness before plunging into it (home-schooling) as the additional role of teaching requires discipline and commitment.
Various websites and blogs have cited Malaysia’s education system and its policies as prime reasons for parents choosing home-schooling over public streams while proper private and international ones cater to those who can afford them.
Parent Action Group for Education, or PAGE, chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim says home-schooling can be risky as children will grow up to be academically inclined.
“Their social skills will not be honed. Their sense of patriotism will be low. Even if they study with a group of children at home or at a particular centre, they miss out on school team projects and co-curricular activities as they are not able to explore and shine as leaders in uniformed bodies, clubs and societies,” says Noor Azimah.
She adds that those who bypass the local examination system may have issues with seeking jobs in certain fields as home-schoolers may not be able to serve in professional bodies like the Bar Council and Malaysian Medical Council as Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia certification is required for registration.
Private educator Suresh Saminathan agrees.
“How do you teach patriotism and provide cultural grounding to children who are confined to the comforts of their home or a particular community or centre?
“Yes, parents can provide the basic educational needs to a certain extent, but you need subject matter experts in other aspects. All these needs must be fulfilled accordingly,” says Suresh.
He adds that the local education system is such that one can completely bypass it and obtain international qualifications that will still grant one jobs and a comfortable life in one’s own cocoon.
“Parents who home-school their children can get them to sit for General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (GCE O Level) or the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and use these results to enrol into private higher education institutions.
“Should they require a pass in Bahasa Malaysia subject, students can sit for it at the higher education institute as the subject is Malaysian Qualifications Agency-approved,” says Suresh.
“But these students will come out with a different mindsets. We will be creating another class of people who can be easily segregated and discriminated upon in society and the workforce.”
The Malaysian education system is governed by the Education Act 1996. Section 29 A (2) states that every Malaysian parent must ensure his child receives 6 years of compulsory primary education at a primary school.
Subsection 4 of the Act states that a parent who contravenes subsection (2) shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or jail not exceeding six months or both.
Section 103 (1), subject to subsection (2), states no person shall teach in an educational institution unless he is registered as a teacher under this Act.
While it states that primary education is compulsory, it does not address details for home-schooling.
The Ministry of Education was not immediately available for comment.
Parents are solely responsible for providing proper education and grounding for their children. Without proper training and understanding, parents may end up doing more harm than good when home-schooling their children.
Giving the local system a try before dismissing it completely may shed some light on children’s abilities, needs and wants.