THERE have been a lot of discussion on whether boarding schools are better than day schools.
School Times spoke to teachers and students from both types of schools who shared their experiences and viewpoints of these schools.
In terms of schedule, residential schools are said to be structured in a fixed environment while day school students have more flexibility in their daily routine.
SMK (P) Sri Aman, Petaling Jaya student Vishantinii Mogana Sundram, 17, said that attending a day school does not restrict her to a set schedule.
“My daily schedule varies according to the school tasks given. I always plan out my studies by setting a target for the day and making sure I achieve it before going to bed.”
Vishantinii, who recently placed the top of her form, added: “When it comes to education, it is my highest priority and I can get very competitive about it.”
Mayratdaa Eh Sing, 17, from SMK Tumpat, Kelantan said that her school lends her the freedom to revise lessons at her own time.
“I prefer to study at night. Being in a day school enables me to do that without bothering my classmates. For subjects that involve a lot of memorisation, I usually read the whole chapter first before making notes,” said the student who reviews two subjects daily.
Her English teacher Wong Lieat Hiong said: “Day school students can study well on their own but they have to be diligent enough.
“If the students know what they want in the future, no matter where they are, they will study hard for their goal.”
For boarding school student Muhammad Nazrie Hasan, 17, he allocates time for self study aside from the compulsory extra classes.
“Before morning prayers, I normally read history and biology books. In the evening, I go jogging or play futsal with my friends. There are days that I choose to study instead of play sports.
“At night, I attend extra classes before doing my own revision,” said the Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah, Putrajaya head student.
Muhammad Imran Rosli, 17, from SM Sains Hulu Terengganu, said that despite the fixed daily agenda, he has the option to change his personal study schedule each month.
“I always do that so I can review all of the nine subjects in time. Every afternoon, my school has additional classes for Form Five students.
“Being a boarding school student, it is easier for me to review lessons with my friends,” said Muhammad Imran, who has represented the Terengganu state in softball tournaments.
Boarding schools are also said to offer more opportunities in the sciences, arts and sports, enabling their students to flourish in their interests.
Maktab Rendah Sains MARA (MRSM) Langkawi students Muhammad Irfan Mohd Nazri and Nornabilah Mohamad Rosdi said that their school provide many avenues to spread their wings.
Muhammad Irfan, who is the Student Representative Council president, flew to the United States for Genius Olympiad, an international high school project competition, last month.
“My group and I made a physiotherapy device enabling patients with hand injury to play games while in rehabilitation. Out of more than 500 projects from 79 countries, we won the silver medal.
“I believe a lot of Malaysian students would love to enter such competitions but they may not have sufficient funds. Aside from external sponsorship, MARA has also supported us financially,” said Muhammad Irfan, who aspires to be a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Nornabilah, who has a passion for mathematics, has been joining the national MRSM Mathematics Carnival yearly.
“My group made it to the Top 3 last year. I also had the chance to go on an educational trip to Japan where we learned a lot about its culture,” she said.
Muhammad Nazrie had the chance to join Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah’s reputable Alam Shah Wind Orchestra.
The flute section principal said: “Throughout my five years here, I’ve joined 13 competitions and have claimed the top prize many times.”
One of the competitions was the Hong Kong Winter Band Festival 2018, where his team won the Gold Award.
“In February 2018, our band had a collaboration with the Hwa Chong Military Band from Singapore. It was my first time travelling outside of Malaysia,” he added.
The aspiring engineer was also selected to represent the country at the Japan-Asia Youth Exchange Programme in Science (Sakura Science Programme) last year.
Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah English teacher and Alam Shah Wind Orchestra adviser Nik Anita Che Hamid said that their programmes are tailored to produce excellent students.
“In a boarding school, teachers play an important role in moulding students. Being their second parents, we have a mentor mentee system where we keep track of their well-being,” said Nik Anita.
Meanwhile, Vishantinii noted that there is a misconception about day school students lacking opportunities.
“SMK (P) Sri Aman provides a multitude of opportunities where students can showcase their talent and capabilities. In fact, my schoolmates’ achievements have brought pride to the country.
“I was one out of five Malaysian representatives at the Asian Youth Forum 2018 in South Korea. I was also involved in the Sri Aman Environmental and English Youth Leadership Summit,” said the school deputy prefect.
SMK (P) Sri Aman History teacher Nadia Fitriyana Ahmad Narzaray said that day schools are suitable for parents who wish to have close supervision over their children.
“Our students also get a lot of opportunities such as student exchange programmes with other countries,” said Nadia Fitriyana.
Another day school pupil Madeshwaran Nathan, 14, is both academically inclined and a sportsperson.
“I have represented my school in chess tournaments such as those held by the District School Sports Council,” said the SMK (L) Bukit Bintang school prefect.
However, unlike their boarding school counterparts, it is not mandatory for day school students to be active in cocurriculum aside from the compulsory weekly activities.
SMK Tumpat student Mayratdaa, who scored straight As in her recent examination, said: “I can be considered as a high-achiever only in academics. I don’t lack incentives from my school but it is more due to my own disinterest in co-curricular activities.”
It is also normal for residential school students to form a close-knit community but day school students may also keep a bond beyond the classroom.
Muhammad Nazrie said: “All of my batchmates are my close friends. Living together for five years, the brotherhood spirit flows through our veins. Without them, I would not be who I am today.”
Muhammad Irfan said that his friends and seniors are always there in times of need.
“When I was in Form One, the seniors provided guidance and showed us the ropes. My friends are everything to me. We spend all the time together — sleeping, eating, studying,” he added.
His schoolmate Nornabilah said that MRSM Langkawi has taught her an important motto: You have to be one, to be number one. “To be successful, we have to help our friends.”