Chinese independent high school
Chinese independent high school (simplified Chinese: 华文独立中学; traditional Chinese: 華文獨立中學; pinyin: Huáwén Dúlì Zhōngxué) is a type of private high school in Malaysia. They provide secondary education in the Chinese language as the continuation of the primary education in Chinese national-type primary schools. The medium of instruction in these schools is Mandarin with simplified Chinese characters writing.
There are a total of 60 Chinese independent high schools in the country, including 23 from East Malaysia, and they represent a small number of the high schools in Malaysia. The United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (UCSCAM, the association of Chinese school teachers and trustees, simplified Chinese: 马来西亚华校董事联合会总会; traditional Chinese: 馬來西亞華校董事聯合會總會), also known as the Dong Jiao Zong (simplified Chinese: 董教总; traditional Chinese: 董教總), coordinates the curriculum used in the schools and organizes the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) standardized test. Despite this, the schools are independent of each other and are free to manage their own affairs.
Being private schools, Chinese independent high schools do not receive funding from the Malaysian government, unlike their national-type cousins. However, in accordance with their aim of providing affordable education to all in the Chinese language, their school fees are substantially lower than those of most other private schools. The schools are kept alive almost exclusively by donations from the public.
Chinese schools were being founded by the ethnic Chinese in Malaya as early as the 19th century. The schools were set up with the main intention of providing education in the Chinese language. As such, their students remain largely Chinese to this day even though the school themselves are open to people of all races and backgrounds.
After Malaysia's independence in 1957, the government instructed all schools to surrender their properties and be assimilated into the National School system. This caused an uproar among the Chinese and a compromise was achieved in that the schools would instead become "National Type" schools. Under such a system, the government is only in charge of the school curriculum and teaching personnel while the lands still belonged to the schools. While Chinese primary schools were allowed to retained Chinese as the medium of instruction, Chinese secondary schools are required to change into English-medium schools.Over 60 schools converted to become National Type schools, including famous schools like Chung Ling High School, Penang Chinese Girls' High School on Penang Island, Jit Sin High School, and Ave Maria Convent High School, Sam Tet High School. While the medium language for most subjects is switched to English as according to the proposal, the teaching and learning of Mandarin remained compulsory in these schools, with most of them dedicating at least one seventh to one fifth of their teaching time per week to Mandarin studies.
This plan was still viewed as an unacceptable compromise amongst some Chinese, and a minority of the Chinese schools refused the proposal and became private high schools or Chinese independent high schools as they were later called. This concept slowly gained popularity and, during the 1960s and 70s, many of the National Type high schools reopened their independent high school branch. Their numbers continued to grow until a period when the political situation in Malaysia made it impossible to set up additional independent Chinese high schools. Currently there are 60 independent Chinese high schools in Malaysia, including Foon Yew High School which is the largest secondary school in the country with over 7000 students. Foon Yew High School was the first school to refuse the government's proposal, as well as the first high school to have a branch campus (located in Kulai). The second largest is Chong Hwa Independent High School, Kuala Lumpur, which is known for its excellent academic performance as well as award-winning performance in inter-school competitions.
Chinese independent high schools in East Malaysia
In 1960, there were 18 high schools using Chinese as the medium of teaching and 22 high schools teaching in the English medium in Sarawak alone. In the year, the British Crown Colony who were then in control of Sarawak proposed that the 18 high schools using Chinese as the medium of teaching be converted into using English. In 1961, a letter was sent to all of the Chinese-medium high schools demanding them to convert teaching of all subjects into English before 1 April 1962. Failing to do so, the schools would not be given any allocations from the government. Despite strong rejection by the local Chinese community, the plan still took place.
In the end, six high schools out of the 18 refused to convert to teaching in English; they were the Chung Hua Middle School No.1, Chung Hua Middle School No.3, Chung Hua Middle School No.4, Guong Ming Middle School, Kiang Hin Middle School and Kai Dee Middle School. The rest of the school which converted into English medium schools ended up as "Sekolah Kebangsaan" after Sarawak joined Malaysia. In 1983 these English medium schools were once again converted into using Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of teaching.
The Chinese community not only continued to support the six high schools which retained the teaching in Chinese (founded in between 1945 and 1960), they had even founded another eight high schools between 1962 and 1968. These 14 high schools then became a part of Malaysia's Chinese independent high school and still exist today.
In Sabah, all of the nine Chinese independent high schools in the state were formed in between 1960 and 1969.
Students usually spend six years in a Chinese independent high school. The six years are divided into two stages: three years in junior middle and three years in senior middle, similar to the secondary school systems in mainland China and Taiwan. Students are streamed into tracks like Science or Art/Commerce in the senior middle stage. At the end of each stage, students sit for the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC). A few schools offer an additional year in senior middle, catering to students taking the government's Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM, equivalent to A-level).
Chinese independent high schools use the same academic year as government schools. An academic year consists of two semesters: Semester 1 from January to May and Semester 2 from June to November, with examinations at the end of each semester. The overall academic performance of a student in an academic year determines his/her promotion to the next study year in the next academic year. Failing requires repeating the study year. Usually, failing to be promoted for two years in a row results in a dismissal. In contrast, students in government schools are automatically promoted regardless of academic performance.
The curriculum used in Chinese independent high schools is developed and coordinated by the Curriculum Department of UCSCAM with reference to secondary education curricula around the world, particularly Malaysia's national secondary education curriculum and those of mainland China as well as Taiwan. UCSCAM publishes textbooks for use in Chinese independent high schools.
Unified Examination Certificate (UEC)
The Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) is a standardized test only for Chinese independent high school students organized by the UCSCAM since 1975. The aim of organizing the examination are:
(1) To unify and improve the academic standards of Chinese Independent Schools in the country
(2) To equip graduates with satisfying criteria for further studies and future career
(3) Offering an academic qualification to local and foreign universities for enrolling purpose
(4) Offering an academic qualification to various professions for employing basis
The UEC is available in three levels:
1. Junior Middle Level (UEC-JML) for Junior 3 students
2. Vocational (UEC-V) for Senior 3 students
3. Senior Middle Level (UEC-SML) for Senior 3 students
Subjects available for each level:
1. Junior Middle Level (UEC-JML)
♧Chinese Language ♧English Language ♧Malay Language ♧Mathematics - available in both Chinese and English language in Sabah ♧Science(Biology, Chemistry and Physics) - available in both Chinese and English language in Sabah ♧History ♧Geography ♧Arts
2. Vocational (UEC-V)
♧Industrial English ♧Automotive Mechanics ♧Automotive Mechanics(Practical) ♧Arts ♧Arts(Practical)
3. Senior Middle Level (UEC-SML)
♧Chinese Language ♧English Language ♧Malay Language ♧Mathematics (available in both Chinese and English language) ♧Additional Mathematics (available in both Chinese and English language) ♧Additional Mathematics I (available in both Chinese and English language) ♧Additional Mathematics II (available in both Chinese and English language) ♧Biology (available in both Chinese and English language) ♧Physics (available in both Chinese and English language) ♧Chemistry (available in both Chinese and English language) ♧History ♧Geography ♧Business Studies (available in both Chinese and English language) ♧Economics ♧Bookkeeping & Accounts (available in both Chinese and English language) ♧Accounting (available in both Chinese and English language) ♧Computer & Information Technology ♧Art ♧Basic Circuit Theory ♧Principle Electronic ♧Digital Logic ♧Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering
The UEC-SML is recognized as a qualification for entrance into many tertiary educational institutions around the world, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore and many others. It is not recognized by the government of Malaysia for direct entry into public universities, but most private colleges accept the qualification and offer scholarships for students with outstanding academics performance in UEC. The worldwide recognized certificate has convinced prospective students and their parents or guardians for a six year education in Chinese Independent School.
1. United Kingdom
Many British universities accept UEC as equivalent to AS level. Generally the Scottish universities accept UEC as equivalent to Scottish Highers. Most students take up twinning programme or 1+2/2+1/3+0 degree programme linked up with universities in the UK due to the exorbitant tuition fees and living expenses in UK. Notable UK universities accepting UEC for Year 1 direct entry included: ▲London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London ▲University College London, University of London ▲University of Nottingham, England ▲University of Sheffield, England ▲University of Edinburgh, Scotland ▲University of Glasgow, Scotland ▲University of Strathclyde, Scotland
Notable Ireland universities accepting UEC for Year 1 direct entry included:
▲Trinity College Dublin ▲University College Dublin
3. The United States of America (USA) and Canada
Most of the universities in US and Canada recognise UEC as the 12th year equivalent of high school education that meets their entry requirements. UEC graduates have selections of applying for Year 1 direct entry or by taking the credit transfer programme(also known as American Degree Transfer Programme, ADP) linked up with US and Canadian universities.
4. Australia and New Zealand
Most of the universities in Australia and New Zealand recognise UEC. UEC graduates have selections of applying for Year 1 direct entry or by taking the credit transfer programme(also known as Australian Degree Transfer Programme, ADP) linked up with Australian and New Zealand universities. Besides, several Malaysia institutions providing 1+3/2+2/3+1/4+0 degree programme linked up with universities in Australia due to the exorbitant tuition fees and living expenses in Australia. Notable Australia and New Zealand universities accepting UEC for Year 1 direct entry included:
▲University of Melbourne ▲Australian National University ▲The University of Queensland ▲Monash University ▲University of New South Wales ▲The University of Western Australia ▲University of Adelaide ▲University of Auckland ▲University of Waikato
5. Hong Kong
Notable Hong Kong universities accepting UEC for Year 1 direct entry included:
▲The University of Hong Kong ▲The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology ▲The Chinese University of Hong Kong ▲City University of Hong Kong ▲The Hong Kong Polytechnic University ▲The Hong Kong Institute of Education ▲Hong Kong Baptist University
6. China & Taiwan
An increasing number of UEC holders now go to China and Taiwan to further their studies. A total of 560 universities in China recognize the UEC qualification and no Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) certificate is required. Malaysian government has officially recognised 8 Taiwanese universities’ degree in Medicine and 2 Taiwanese universities’ degree Pharmacy courses. 
Notable Singapore universities accepting UEC for Year 1 direct entry included:
▲The National University of Singapore(NUS) ▲Nanyang Technological University(NTU) ▲Singapore Management University(SMU) ▲Singapore Institution of Management(SIM)
Apart from UEC, students from Chinese Independent Schools are able to sit for the government standardized tests (PMR, SPM, providing the students an opportunity to obtain government-recognized certificates. Therefore, most graduates of Chinese Independent Schools are fluent in Mandarin, English and Malay.
Malaysia educationalist Dr Kua Kia Soong mentioned the introduction of the UEC in his book Protean Saga: The Chinese Schools of Malaysia. According to the book, the introduction of the UEC led to Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the then Minister of Education and later the Prime Minister of Malaysia, summoning the Chinese educationalists to parliament. To quote the book, "The latter (Mahathir) did not mince his words but told the Dong Jiao Zong leaders that UEC had better not be held or else ... He did not ask for any response and dismissed the Chinese educationalists with a curt ... 'that is all'." However, the first Unified Examination was held successfully on 1975. In May 2004 the National Accreditation Board (LAN) required students entering local private colleges using any qualification other than the SPM to pass the SPM Malay paper. This drew protests and then the Minister of Higher Education Dr Shafie Salleh exempted UEC students from this requirement.
- Education in Malaysia
- United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (UCSCAM), known as Dong Jiao Zong (Chinese:董教总)
- not including Foon Yew High School Kulai Branch