MBS A Private School? PDF Print E-mail







Dr. Eric Wong


Abstract: There’s some murmuring about MBS, now a public school, converting into a private institution. After 114 years of existence, former MBSians, teachers and educationists are looking at this education service provider for the next centenary. Converting MBS into a private school – is this a myth or reality? This article is exploratory. It takes a position that MBS could be converted into a private school but acknowledges that there are mammoth challenges in doing so. The idea was first discussed with Poon Ming Wong, a social investor, who studied in MBS from 1969 to 1981 and Peter Yap Hoy Hoong, the Vice-President of the MBS Alumni Association. This article hopes to generate some discussion from our readers.


MBS is an esteemed and tested education brand. It sells and will continue to be greatly marketable. It had been branded for more than 100 years. The demand for a top choice private secondary school in Kuala Lumpur is not a dream that cannot be realized. Over the last centenary, this school in Chinatown had produced well-known professional and business people. Parents continue to send their children to this school that had given them a sound and street-wise education. What makes the school tick? Yes, it’s the traditional ethos, the teachers and the students all rolled into one.


Perhaps there’s a strong need to examine the school in the next centenary, if it continues to be educationally relevant. In order to exist in educational competitiveness, the curriculum must be addressed. The curriculum has to attract students and provide them with an education well beyond an ordinary secondary school in Kuala Lumpur in the next centenary. What is proposed is a holistic education – an education that offers a much more all-round training in the arts and the sciences. Unfortunately, the present system falls short of the freedom for students to enjoy a truly holistic education. The students are too ‘specialized’ and are also obsessed with the number of As. Society and parents the recalcitrant attitude – they strongly support and advocate that As maketh a student. They may be right for at the end of the day, what make it count are a scholarship and a degree in the Malaysian context. Is this what education is all about? Hardly so. Parents, particularly need to re-think.


Education prepares students for life or what is sometimes labelled ‘education for life.’ This is the education that can provide the learners a balanced perspective of the world. As Poon Ming has rightly hit the nail on the head:


“A true education needs to consist of more than just getting As. It must prepare us for the vagaries of life. It must teach us not to see the world as black or white but to distinguish between the various shades of grey. It must teach us not only the ability to separate fact from opinion but also to acknowledge that viewpoints that are different from ours can also be valid. It must teach us that learning extends well beyond the four walls of a classroom.”


Well remarked, these are the products that we urgently require as students journey to the next 100 years. A holistic education has the vitality and purpose and may I add ‘meaningfulness in education’ in the preparation of students for life.


Yes, an education that provides them with the opportunity and freedom to dwell into the many aspects of humanity. HE is primarily the training of the overall character and their sensitivity towards human values. Students can major in their core ‘subjects’ but this should not prevent them from doing other ‘electives’ such as music, history, literature, languages and other disciplines related to people. There may certainly be differences in opinion in what constitutes a HE. Let us hear from you. Should the arts and the sciences be balanced in terms of content and scope? What would happen to ‘specialization.’? Again, let us here from you.


Of course, there are other activities students have to participate in. Sports and games should not at all be compromised. A sportsman develops determination and he also has the perseverance and motivation to prove himself. He must have the mental ability to think quickly. All these human qualities cannot be found in textbooks but are really found on the field. History teaches us the strengths and weaknesses of humankind. It also teaches us humility, not arrogance. And literature has a role in knowing and understanding the culture of race. It leads students to be appreciative of the differences and the respect for others who are different.


Students need to be serious about the extra-curricular activities in schools. The scouting movement for the boys and the girl guides must be promoted. Let us not forget the Interact Club, the Chess Club, the Drama and Debating Society, the Boys’ Brigade, etc that enhance character training and leadership development. From my observation as an educationist over the years, the students who had taken an active part in sports and extra-curricular activities had become socially and professionally more successful in life.


The proposal to set up a T. Mori Foundation is a brilliant idea. Perhaps some of the funds could be channelled into scholarships for students who excel in studies, sports and extra-curricular activities. This would be an encouragement for meritocracy.


Some of us may argue about the feasibility or practicality in converting MBS into a private school. They may mention the Primary School that acts as a feeder school. Should it be amalgamated into one single entity? Or do the secondary school first as the demand for enrolment has always been there? What are you views on this?


What about transport and accommodation? Do we have adequate facilities to meet with the requests, perhaps from some students who may like to live within the premises of the school?


A private school means dollars and cents. So now we need to examine some pertinent figures with regard to income and expenditure. The expenditure is mainly associated with teaching salaries and the salaries of the support staff. There are currently 100 teachers in the secondary school. Their salaries, based on an average of RM4,000 per month, will run up to RM4.8 million a year. And there are 20 members of the support staff. With an average salary of RM2,000 per month, the total will amount to RM480,000. So the total expenditure registers at about RM5.3 million per year. Let us not forget that these teachers and support staff are civil servants and they draw a pension after retirement and gratuity as well. We’ve not taken these into account. If we’re going to attract ‘good’ teachers, there must be a more superior scale, quite different from the government one.


For income, the school receives RM200 from each of the 1,000 students every year. The school gets a subsidy from the government for operational costs.


When MBS goes private, each student has to pay RM6,000 per year and this will break even between income and expenditure. But if the fee were RM8,000 per year, there would be a profit of 2 million. Could we say RM8,000 per year is affordable education at the secondary level?


These figures are rather simplistic that require more in-depth study. But it provides a general overview of the financial implications in going private. Let us have your views on all these matters.


Over to you, MBSians.



(The writer was a former teacher of MBS in the mid-sixties and seventies. He can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).


Online Community

Who's Online

We have 164 guests online

Latest News 

Learning points from the Caregivers’ Forum held on 26 Aug 2017, Wesley Legacy Centre, Kuala Lumpur

News image

News | Tuesday, 30 January 2018

"Special appreciation and thank you to Dr Evelyn Ho, Ms Yeo Eng Lam & Ms Maria Kinson for giving consent to MBSKL Alumni Association to reproduce these articles & visual in their web-page ... Read more