An Education Without Walls

Homeschooled children in a playgroup participate in an art project.

In Malaysia, a country in Southeast Asia, a growing number of parents are educating their children at home instead of sending them to public school. Many of these parents say that they want to provide an education for their child that is tailored to meet his or her individual interests and needs.

“Every child has things they’re passionate about and want to achieve, so I don’t believe in teaching the same subjects in school to everyone,” says Wei Yun Lee of Selangor. Lee is the mother of four children who are homeschooled.

Bern Horsley, 15, of Kuala Lumpur, loves music, art, and computer programming. He enjoys homeschooling because it allows him to pursue his passions. “Since I’m able to study something I’m passionate about,” he says, “I feel more confident.”



Homeschooling enables children to delve into the subjects they care about the most. Each child follows a unique curriculum and takes different types of exams. 

How Ru Yi, for example, plans to take exams administered by the International General Certificate of Secondary Education. The 14-year-old, who lives in Selangor, is an aspiring author. She can choose which subjects to be tested on in a range of areas, including languages, the humanities, science, and math. The tests can be taken individually at a student’s own pace.

Ng Zhang Hui studies such subjects as math and science. But her main focus is on figure skating. The 11-year-old, who also lives in Selangor, dreams of becoming a top figure skater. She is routinely tested on how well she performs jumps and spins.


Homeschooled children explain magnet levitation at the Malaysian Homeschooling Network Science Fair in 2018.

Young people explain magnet levitation at the annual Homeschool Science Fair in Malaysia.


If you’re wondering whether children who are homeschooled get the chance to socialize with other kids, Shannon Ng has the answer. 

“Homeschoolers socialize just like any other human being,” says Ng, who belongs to a Facebook group for homeschoolers in Malaysia. “They meet people everywhere—restaurants, local parks, and in their neighborhoods.” They also participate in extracurricular activities with other children who are homeschooled.

In 2015, a university study estimated that 5,000 children in Malaysia were being homeschooled. By every account, that number is growing.


Photos courtesy of the author