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Why International Schools Are Gaining Interest Among Malaysians

A good life begins with a good education. It’s one of the most important elements when raising a child, other than providing them with safety and nourishment. These days especially, parents are starting to prioritize the kind of education that should be given to their children, where international schools seem to be garnering a growing interests among families who can afford it.

The 2012 decision by the Malaysian government to eliminate the quota for Malaysian enrollment at international schools has opened the floodgates and Malaysian students have been pouring into these schools since. In fact, to date, the number of Malaysian students attending international schools actually exceeds the number of expatriate students!

Why Enrol Your Child in an International School?

There are several factors as to why parents are steadily taking to the idea of sending their children to international schools. Some of them include:

A better command of English

English is a necessity if one intends to go far in life. It is the international language of the entire world. The majority of international schools use the English language for their daily conversations, therefore making it the main language used on campus. Most International schools strive to ensure that their students’ command of English is acceptably good, giving them a better chance of acquiring proficiency in the language.

Students in international schools are exposed to the proper uses of the English language. Communicating in English as the main language does not only benefit a child in school, but will also help him or her go further in college and working life too.

Recognised by the world

All of the globally predominant curricula and programs such as the UK National Curriculum, IGCSE, A Levels, the American Curriculum and the International Baccalaureate (IB) – are offered widely in Malaysia, while other curricula – such as the New South Wales Board of Studies Syllabus, the Ontario Curriculum and the Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi – are also available. By choosing any one of these international curriculums, your child would be easily accepted into universities anywhere in the world.

Communication skills and cultural understanding

International schools are filled with students from all parts of the world. This way, children are given the opportunity to communicate with others who speak different languages. Hence, children get to learn different languages, and also get to learn about different cultures – something unobtainable at local schools.

These are priceless opportunities that will reap great results for a child’s future, such as attending a university abroad or when a future job requires communication with clients from other countries.

Beneficial additional curriculum

Besides a great academic system, international schools also provide all sorts of additional curriculum, such as indoor and outdoor sports, music classes, dance classes, acting classes and much more to ensure their students enjoy a well-rounded educational experience.

Participation in extracurricular activities can boost a student’s confidence and further enhance his or her social skills, qualities that are essential for landing well-paying jobs in the future. It’s a known fact by now that besides looking at academic qualifications, most companies do also take note of a potential employee’s curriculum background to gauge their interests and personalities as well.

Some differences between public, private and international schools


  • Parents have to pay a registration fee, extra curriculum fee and tuition fee
  • Offers international curriculums which include UK, United States of America, Baccalaureate, Ontario and Islamic to name a few
  • School fee is more expensive compared to public and private school fees combined
  • Syllabus offered according to the curriculum offered by the school (international syllabus)
  • Facilities provided include swimming pools, gymnasiums, libraries, computer labs, science labs, badminton/tennis courts, performing arts theatres and more
  • Most international schools use English as the official language
  • Small classes with an average of two teachers to 20 students


  • Parents have to pay a registration fee, extra curriculum fee and tuition fee
  • Been operating for over 40 years, but there are new schools around
  • School fee is more expensive compared to public school fees
  • Syllabus offered is similar to the syllabus at government schools
  • Facilities such as swimming pools, music rooms, science labs and computer labs are provided, and are generally more than what’s offered at public schools.
  • Focuses on the English language, Malay language, Mandarin and Tamil
  • Smaller class sizes compared to public schools


  • Sponsored by the government
  • Inclusive of primary and secondary education
  • Minimum school fee
  • Syllabus determined by the Education Ministry of Malaysia
  • Basic facilities provided include science labs, libraries, computer labs and outdoor school fields
  • Focuses on the national language which is Bahasa Malaysia, as well as Mandarin and Tamil for SRJK and SMJK
  • Big classes with an average of 30 to 40 students in each class

Choosing the right international school

You’ll have to take a few things into consideration before choosing an international school to enrol your child in.

Know the school and see to the following

  • Size of the classes. How many students are in each class?
  • What are the yearly activities held at that school? Do they have activities in the first week of school?
  • How are new students treated in class? Are they welcomed by other students?
  • Is there counselling provided for students?
  • Are parents notified on their child’s progress? If so, how often?
  • Does the school provide special learning?


  • What educational approach is practised by the school?
  • Are the courses offered sufficient for your child’s development?
  • What are some after school activities offered? Are they of your child’s interest?
  • How does the school evaluate their students? Through exams? If through exams, how often and what exams?
  • How many school graduates have landed spots in well known universities?

The teachers

  • What are the teachers’ backgrounds?
  • Are they fully qualified?
  • What are the teaching methods used by the teachers to encourage and help their students do their best at school?
  • Are the teachers loving, caring and open-minded?
  • Do the teachers willingly provide extra classes for students?

School recognition

  • Is the school well recognized overseas?
  • When was the school founded? Since then, how much has it achieved in the academic sector?
  • What are the facilities provided for students and are they well maintained?
  • What is the school’s policy when it comes to extra classes?
  • What are the safety features provided in the school? Are there CCTVs installed in the school compound?
  • Does the school vow to bear all responsibilities once your child sets foot inside every day?

How can you, the parent, be involved?

  • What are parents’ roles in the school? Are parents notified when there is an activity?
  • Does the school welcome parents to watch and support their child at certain activities?
  • Are parents’ allowed to provide feedback on their educational approach?
  • Are parents notified when exam results are out? If so, how is it done?

All these questions would help in deciding which school to enrol your child in. However, don’t rush when making this decision. Take your time and observe the schools that are on your list. List down the pros and cons of each school so that you can make your choice, but remember that it’s your child who is going to be spending the most time there, so, do include him or her when making that decision.

Include your child

As a parents, you’d probably know some of your child’s interests. The best way to confirm this is by asking your child what he or she hopes to learn in school. Generally, children get more excited to know they are attending a school they genuinely like, instead of being told they are going to a certain school merely because their parents have decided that it’s the best.

Remember, while you might think you’ve made the right choice, if your child absolutely detests the school, there will be little or no genuine interest to learn and participate in school activities.

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