Northern Lights makes strides as SXI hopes to reclaim past glories

Northern Lights makes strides as SXI hopes to reclaim past glories

Education is transforming in Penang, home to the country’s many old and leading learning institutions

EDUCATION is seen by many parents as a crucial component of their young children’s lives. There is now growing demand to enhance the body, mind and spirit of students rather than a sole focus on the academic.

In Penang, which is home to many of the country’s old and leading institutions for learning, especially in basic primary to secondary schooling, education is also transforming with the emergence of international schools.

And adding to the mix of diversity and choices, are new local private schools.

The Northern Lights Private School and Arena of Lights is one of its kind in Penang, a one-stop-centre private school, where daily in-school sessions begin at 8.15am and end at 5pm.

Parents find their children engaging, and they come home with new skills such as self-defence, instead of having to attend outside classes for it.


Northern Lights Private School and Arena of Lights is one of its kind in Penang, a one-stop-centre private school. – Ian McIntyre pic

Students are taught the national curriculum but the extra benefit is they are also exposed on a systematic level to the world of co-curriculum from sports to recreation and uniform units.

Michael Ng, the principal, spoke of how the world now demands students to be fit in mind and bodies, while character building is also geared towards becoming competitive and resilient in meeting the disruptive age.

“Hence, our school system is different. It meets the ambitions and demands of parents, who want a holistic form of education.”

Ng recently spoke at the official opening of the school in Simpang Ampat recently.

Present were the district education director Mohamad Dzaiuddin Mat Saad, Duo Sparks Badminton Academy chief coach Daphne Ng, Wahoo Swim School chief coach Thomas Lee and the owner of the school, NL Academy Sdn Bhd executive director Lee Hong Lock.


(Above and below) Scenes from the opening of the school. – Ian McIntyre pic

Dzaiuddin said that the Northern Lights can work with other schools in the district to improve the co-curriculum level, especially in sports.

Northern Lights also tied up with two enterprises, Duo Sparks and Wahoo, to offer their students a chance to learn badminton and swimming skills from the very best – retired national athletes.

Earlier this month, the school marked a new era in education for Penang – an innovative learning concept.

Realising that children not only need excellence in information technology, Ng said that they must also be physically well-equipped with strong character.

“We hope the commercial-driven tablets and handphones are replaced by the true nature of education here – reading, exercising, and priming the brains to absorb the wealth of knowledge.

“We use our IT tools outside although we also encourage them to learn more about the computer here such as in programming.”

So, the school has developed a 9,000 sq ft facility for sports – a 25-metre swimming pool and four badminton courts with grounds for martial arts as well as eventual space for football, field hockey and athletics.

“We want to make Northern Lights the school of choice. There are now a total of 56 schools in Penang. We aim to be among the best.”

Ng’s personal wish is for students from the school to qualify for the Olympics.

Daphne, a former national shuttler, who was forced to retire due to nagging injuries, said that national athletes can looking forward to imparting their skills to the young charges.

“The greatest joy is to see them compete and win on the world stage.”


National squash and badminton players posing for a shot. – Ian McIntyre pic

Together with Sabrina Chong, Daphne wants their academy to unearth new talents as Penang, is after all, the home state of the now-retired badminton stars of Datuk Lee Chong Wei and squash world champion Datuk Nicol David.

As Northern Lights make its strides, the second oldest school in the country after Penang Free School is also hoping to reclaim past glories.

Commenting on a rash of Convent schools closing down due to low enrolment and escalating operating expenditure, the St Xavier’s Institution (SXI) Board of Governors chairman Victor Tan said that the school is not going the way of the Convent institutions here.

Met after the school just celebrated its 170th anniversary with the opening up of a heritage gallery and hall of fame for its students, Tan said that SXI has no plans for now to become a private or international school.

Instead, more resources and investments would be channelled into ensuring that the school remains a top excellence centre for education, he said.

Contrary to what others see, the enrolment rate in SXI is improving both in its primary school at SXI Branch and the main secondary SXI school, he noted.

What such missionary schools can do with, is more donations to fund the various academic initiatives and to upkeep the schools, said Tan.

Brother-director Jason Blakie said that SXI cannot compete with the now-closed Convent Light Street, which plans to become an international school.

“It is the same market so why should we be part of it.”

Instead, more efforts can be spent on upgrading the national schools to meet the aspiration of every parent for quality education at affordable costs.

Earlier this month, it was also reported that Convent Pulau Tikus will also close down with plans for it to become a private education entity.

Former SXI board chairman Jeffrey Chew Gim Eam said that low enrolment is a challenge facing all national schools.

“But we hope it can improve over time because as a nation, we need to embrace our diverse roots instead of becoming polarised due to an agenda driven by selfish politicians,” said Chew.

“We should study and play together so we grow up as one nation,” he said.

source – The Vibes

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