Thursday, January 13, 2011

Education in Europe

Children at Junior British School - Leidschenveen, Netherlands

To those who are not familiar with the european system, determining which grade or which year your child will be can be confusing. In our country, the year a child was born will determine when he will be in Year 1. But in Europe, it's not like that. For one thing school year begins as early as mid August or early September (depends on which school you go to) and it will end the following mid June or mid July, then the children will have a range of 2 months summer holiday(could be 7 weeks, again it depends on which school). Here, which month & year your child was born will determine which year/grade he goes into. The cut off month is 31st August, if a child was born between September to December, he will go into a lower academic year as compared to friends born prior to September. Does it make any sense? To make things simpler, I will give an example here:

For a child born in June 2002 ;

In Malaysia, in year 2011 : He is in Tahun 3

At International Sch Amsterdam : He is in Grade 3 (academic year 2010/2011)

At British School Netherlands : He is in Year 4 (academic year 2010/2011)

But, for a child born in September 2002 ;

In Malaysia, in year 2011 : He is in Tahun 3

At International Sch Amsterdam : He is in Grade 2 (academic year 2010/2011)

At British School Netherlands : He is in Year 3 (academic year 2010/2011)

In Malaysia formal education begins at 7 years (6 to those born in December), but here in Netherlands and Britain, formal education begins at 5 years (4 to those born in August - correct me if I'm wrong) when children start Foundation 2.

The British Junior School starts with Foundation 1 (not compulsory), then Foundation 2, followed by Year 1, Year 2 and so on. And something else to bear in mind, classes here begin at 8.45 a.m. and ends at 3.15 p.m.

While Britain and Netherland begin formal education at 5 years (4 if you think about it), most of Europe countries begin formal education at 6 years while Scandinavian countries like Finland and Sweden begin their formal education when the child turns 7 !!! And yet, Finland is reported to be a global superstar in education terms and is consistently among the top performers. Finnish pupils not only begin education at age 7, but they also enjoy 11 weeks of summer holidays and yet they end up with the highest educational standards in Europe - source BBC news, February 2008.

It seems that English children are ploughing up through a fix curriculum while their continental counterparts are still playing in kindergarten pits or playing at home. It worths to note that England primary school children are subjected to more testing and assessment at an earlier age compared to other Western countries.

I suppose Malaysian education system are similar to the British, a lot of tests and exams.


Nana said...

In Japan, the fiscal year starts in April. So, school starts in April every year. Sya was born in February 2005. In Japan, he will start his standard one this April but in Malaysia, he'll only start his standard one next year January. So, if we stay here, he'll start standard one at the age of 6 not 7 as in Malaysia. But education system starting at 4 or 5 years old is early yeah! Whether it's good or not, I guess it is still controversial. :)

i amsterdam said...

Dear Nana,

I'm amazed at the different start of school all over the world. I heard Indonesian school year begins in June/July.

The results of some studies had indicated adverse results of starting formal education at 5 (I prefer to say 4 for british school). There were no clear link between quantity and quality. My fav term is "early bird does not necessarily become the bookworm"

When will you know whether u r staying or not?

TK said...

Malaysia memang byk exams..cikgu penat tanda kertas...hehe. I pun penat kena studykan anak...

i amsterdam said...


Anak murid pula penat bawa buku... he..he..

Banyak pahala cikgu2 ni, menyampai maklumat... :D

Cheqna said...

Dearest fren,just drop by to say tqvm :-)

i amsterdam said...

Dear Cheqna,

Hope your uncle is getting better.

Nana said...

Dear iamsterdam,

I will go back this year. Hopefully in March or April. Prof wants me to work here for a year but I told him that I have to go back. So, he's willing to let me go. Yooohooo!
Yup, a lot of arrangement needs to be done. With Sya who can barely speak a complete sentence in Malay, we don't know what would become of him! Hahaha...but I am taking it easy, now. Kids can catch up very fast they say. Hopefully Sya will be fine.

i amsterdam said...

Don't worry about Sya, Nana. He will pick up bahasa in no time. Your worry is perhaps how to make sure he doesn't forget the nippon language!!


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