Other Types of Schools

Apart from national schools, there are other types of schools in Malaysia.

Islamic religious schools
A system of Islamic religious schools exists in Malaysia. Primary schools are called Sekolah Rendah Agama (SRA), while secondary schools are called Sekolah Menengah Agama (SMA).

Another type of schools available in Malaysia is the Islamic religious schools or sekolah agama rakyat (SAR). The schools teach Muslim students subjects related to Islam such as early Islamic history, Arabic language and Fiqh. It is not compulsory though some states such as Johor make it mandatory for all Muslim children aged six to twelve to attend the schools as a complement to the mandatory primary education. In the final year, students will sit an examination for graduation. Most SAR are funded by respective states and managed by states' religious authority.
Previously, former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad suggested to the government that the SARs should be closed down and integrated into the national schools. However, his proposal was met with resistance and later, the matter was left to die quietly.

Such schools still exist in Malaysia, but are generally no longer the only part of a child's education in urban areas. Students in rural parts of the country do still attend these schools. Some of the academic results published by these schools are accepted by mainline universities by taking Malaysia High Certificate of Religious Study (Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia, abbreviated as STAM), and many of these students continue their education in locations such as Pakistan or Egypt. Some of their alumni include Nik Adli (son of PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz).

Some parents also opt to send their children for religious classes after secular classes. Sunday schools and after school classes at the mosque are various options available.

Chinese independent high schools
After receiving primary education in national-type primary schools, some students from SJK(C) may choose to study in a Chinese independent high school. Chinese independent high schools are funded mostly by the Malaysian Chinese public, with UCSCAM (United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia, also known as Dong Jiao Zong after its Chinese acronym) as the overall co-ordination body. Students in Chinese independent high schools study in three junior middle levels and three senior middle levels, similar to the secondary schools systems in mainland China and Taiwan; each level usually takes one year. Like the students in public secondary schools, students in Chinese independent high schools are put into several streams like Science or Art/Commerce in the senior middle levels. However, some schools recently provided unique streams like Electrical Engineering, Food and Beverage Studies or Arts Design. The medium of instruction in Chinese independent high schools is Mandarin and uses simplified Chinese characters in writing.

Students in Chinese independent high schools take standardised tests known as the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) at the end of Junior Middle 3 and Senior Middle 3. UEC has been run by UCSCAM since 1975. The UEC is available in three levels: Vocational Unified Exam (UEC-V), UEC Junior Middle Level (UEC-JML/JUEC) and Senior Middle Level (UEC-SML/SUEC). The syllabus and examinations for the UEC-V and UEC-JML are only available in the Chinese language. The UEC-SML has questions for mathematics, sciences (biology, chemistry and physics), bookkeeping, accounting and commerce in both Chinese and English.

UEC-SML is recognised as an entrance qualification in many tertiary educational institutions internationally, including those in Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China and some European countries, as well as most private colleges in Malaysia, but not by the government of Malaysia for entry into public universities. As the government of Malaysia does not recognise the UEC, some Chinese independent high schools provide instructions in the public secondary school syllabus in addition to the independent school syllabus, thus enabling the students to sit for PT3, SPM, or even STPM.

Dong Jiao Zong's policy
A "rooted" Chinese

According to the United Chinese School Committees' Association of Malaysia, also known as "Dong Zong" 董总 ), it was the British colonial policy (1786–1957) to allow vernacular language schools to exist and develop, along with Sekolah Pondok (Malays) and Sekolah Tamil (Indians). This was part of the British strategy of "dividing and rule". For those who are willing to attend English schools, they will gain better opportunities in employment than any other schools, sometimes at the expense of their own racial/ethnic and religious root(s). Nevertheless, the development of Chinese language education thrived due to the conformity to the divide and rule policy. Before Malaysia gained independence, the Chinese had 1300 primary schools, nearly 100 high schools, and even a tertiary institution, Nanyang University, built without the financial support of the government. The report of Dong Zong claimed that the main reason for many Chinese parents sending their children to Chinese schools was that they generally hoped their children would retain their Chinese identity, with love and awareness of the nation of Malaysia, love of their own culture and traditions, ethnic pride, and most importantly being aware of their ethnic roots.

Lim Lian Geok (simplified Chinese: 林连玉; traditional Chinese: 林連玉), known as the "Soul of Ethnic Chinese" (Chinese: 族魂), the former president of UCSCAM, said: "One’s culture is the soul of one’s ethnicity, and its value as important to us as our lives. And if any of you (Chinese) want to inherit Chinese cultural heritage, and if any of you (Chinese) want to live a 'true' Chinese, your children must be sent to a Chinese school."

International Schools
International schools prepare children for global challenges in the future by advocating international education. Children will reap plenty of benefits through the curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate, Edexcel or Cambridge International Examinations; or by following a national curriculum different from that of the school's. Some examples of international schools in Malaysia are:

Crescendo International School, Johor Bahru, Johor
International School of Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur
Prince of Wales Island International School, Penang
Westlake International School, Perak
Kingsley International School, Selangor
Victoria International School, Banting, Selangor
The International School at ParkCity

"Final goal"
The UCSCAM believed that the government of Malaysia had a "final goal" (referring to the Razak Report) to eradicate the Chinese schools and Tamil schools. The report claimed that the government of Malaysia's culture and language education policy, over the past 50 years was, to not give up implementation of the "final goal": a final "national school" with the Malay language (National language) as the main medium of instruction. The language of other ethnic groups, namely Chinese and Tamil, thus could only serve as a foreign language. The reason given by the government was that the Chinese and Tamil primary schools were the root cause of disunity of this country. To achieve "national unity", all other non-national schools should be restricted, and finally merged with the national school.

"Do not give up and do not compromise"
The standpoint of UCSCAM is that only the implementation of a multilingual school policy befits Malaysia's multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-linguistic and multi-religious society. Dong Jiao Zong's distinctive position for this protest has remained unchanged over the last 50 years.