In Malaysia, we have primary and secondary school. Primary school is when your 7-12 years old. School would start at 7:30 to 12:30. After school, I had what I’ll call afternoon school which was for religious classes. For six years I took Arabic and learned about Islamic faith. These classes have helped me shape my own beliefs especially as I grew older.
“I think belief is not a static thing.”
Secondary school is when your 13-17 years old. We go by forms instead of classes so at 13 your in form one. Everyone learns the same things until after form three. In form three there is a standardized test that will determine what stream you go into. My school was a small school so we only had science and art streams, but bigger schools have more. I got into the science stream which had additional math of pre-algebra, calculus, statistics, etc. We also had physics, biology, and chemistry; the other classes where the same such as history, language, moral, and gym.
School went from January to November. Starting at 7:20 for morning assembly then our classes started at 7:40 and we’d get out at 2:00pm. We took about nine classes in total, but they were divided up into periods and each period was 40 minutes. Some classes will have three periods in one go, so for PE that would be three in one go, which would be about 2 hours. We would have PE for 2 hours, once a week.
I enjoyed PE, we usually would play games like volleyball, soccer, and hockey. Because we separated the guys and the girls, we didn’t have any issues playing these games. The boys would have a guy instructor and we would have a girl instructor. When I started the science stream there were only twenty-five of us in my class, so we had to combine the first and second class.
It was in my last year of secondary school when I decided that I wanted to work on nuclear energy because I think Malaysia should move from fossil fuels. So I wanted to go into nuclear physics so I could start a program since we don’t have any specialists on nuclear energy, but now I don’t feel so limited to nuclear energy that maybe I can use physics for other kinds of energy production, maybe like solar energy.
“I’m trying to improve our energy production.”
After secondary school we take another standardized test, it’s kind of like the SAT. During our sixth month break, I applied to universities and got accepted to what is call matriculation. Matriculation is like transition from secondary to college. It’s structured similar to secondary school, but you’re doing university level kind of courses. I also got accepted to a university, which is the oldest and at the time the best university in the country. Since I didn’t get accepted into a sponsorship I went the university but on the third week I got an e-mail saying I was accepted in to the sponsorship so I was at the university for four weeks before transferring to a preparation college. The preparation college is called UNITEN and is owned by the energy company which I find interesting because of what I want to do. Even though it’s an engineering college they also have a college that does international things like Japanese classes, German classes, and they had French as well. At UNITEN, I took classes similar to AOI and classes for the SAT and TOFEL. We only had three months to prepare for the SAT.
The sponsorship I got accepted into is part of the government’s plan to invest in human assets. So they send us to universities but when we come back we have to work for the government for 6 years. This is to help the country get better.