How British Schools Came About in Malaysia

British schools ultimately came about through British commercial interests in Malaysia. By the late 18th century, the British East India Company traded with, and partially controlled, Malaysia. Gradually, with this influence, British Protectorate became British rule.

During this British occupation of Malaysia, there was no real policy on educational advancements. The schools already in place simply carried on their own activities. At that time British colonialism held the policy of divisive rule, and had no interest in establishing rapport between any of the racial factors in Malaysia. People were taught their own languages in the schools, and with these language divisions, people were taught to accept either the role of subjection, or the role of rulers. There was a low attendance rate in Malaysian schools then, as children were expected to carry out traditional duties in the home and in the field.

The lack of education for these children eventually elicited the concern of the British government, and compulsory education was implemented in the late 1880s-1890s.

Unfortunately, British rule wished to establish a status quo in which the Malaysia people were to be kept subject by not learning the English language of their colonial rulers, and not gaining the valuable secondary education. At this time the British government did not provide English language lessons in primary schools, thus forcing those who wished a secondary education to suddenly adjust to the English language while attempting the study courses of secondary school.

British historian Richard O. Winstedt wished to improve this educational conundrum, and established the Sultan Idris Training College to produce Malay teaching staff.

Richard O. Winstedt (2 August 1878 – 2 June 1966)

From this point the ceiling on Malay educational quality began to shift upward, and English language schools became an option, as secondary education was offered in English.

The oldest English school was established in Penang, the English Free School. At the time, these English language schools were considered prestigious.

Today education in Malaysia reflects the very elite in educational development. A private school in Penang, Sri Pelita, is an example; offering emphasis on developing a child’s multiple intelligences through holistic education.

The Prince of Wales Island International School http://www.powiis.edu.my/, a British International School, was founded in 2011 on the premise of top British boarding schools. It is located in a lovely green setting, reflecting its local and international experiences. it offers a complete educational opportunity with a global projection toward excellence.

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