BATU PAHAT - SJK (C) Kong Nan in Parit Raja here has the highest number of non-Chinese students in the district.
On the first day of class yesterday, the school, which has 315 pupils including 69 Malays, welcomed 51 Year One pupils, 11 of them Malays, one Indian and one Pakistani.
"Every year, we receive a high number of Malay pupils," headmistress Tan Ah Noi said, adding that 14 Malay pupils sat for the UPSR examinations last year.
Chairman of the school board of governors Teo Yew Chuan said the majority of the pupils came from other countries and were children of lecturers or staff of Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia here.
Housewife Suhaidah Sapuan, 32, who accompanied her eldest son to his first day at the school, said she always wanted her children to learn Chinese.
"It is because the teachers are strict about discipline and my son can mix with those of other races."
Rafife Rahim, 28, whose daughter is also attending Year One at the school, said: "I did not go to a Chinese school, but I know the importance of mastering various languages to make one more competitive, besides gaining a better understanding of our neighbours."
SJK (C) Cheng Siu 2 in Jalan Tanjong Laboh also has some 30 Malay pupils among its 661 students.
Meanwhile, in Kota Kinabalu, State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said schools in Sabah are encouraged to introduce the Chinese language as an optional subject.
"Chinese has been acknowledged as the world's most widely used language, followed by English and Spanish.
"Hence, it is necessary for people to learn it, if not master it," he said after welcoming Sabah's first international guests at the Kota Kinabalu International Aiport I in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014.
"What I'm saying is that we introduce the Chinese language as an optional subject so that parents can choose whether they want their children to take it up or otherwise," he added.
Masidi was responding to a question on whether the Government would consider converting the soon-to-be completed SK Api-Api not far from the city into a Chinese school.
Masidi said he was happy to note that more bumiputra students have enrolled in Chinese schools in Sabah.