Although there are several tiers of international schools in Malaysia based on their fee structure, the fact remains that private and international schools are more expensive than public schools.
Malaysian parents are ready to compromise on their lifestyle and give up on some luxuries to give their children an international education.
Huang Paik Ling first enrolled her three children into a Chinese national school but later decided to move them to an international school instead.
She says, “My children struggled with the medium of teaching as we do not speak the language at home. I also felt the curriculum had a one size fit all approach.”
“The students are taught that there is only one way of problem solving, and that is the teacher’s way. Classes often have up to 45 kids, hence, teachers do not have the time to give personalised attention.”
“As a result, the ones given attention are the ones who excel and ironically, the ones who need more help are neglected.”
The school her children currently attend follow a more modernised method of teaching, where there is a heavy emphasis on values and character building.
“Quality academics is a given hence this is definitely a plus point. Teachers are genuinely caring and don’t mind staying back after school on their own time to coach the weaker students.”
Although she is concerned that her children might grow up feeling privileged and disengaged from the real world after attending an international school, she is more than happy she made the switch.
“I am happy that my children are learning to think as opposed to being spoon fed,” she reasons.
Language is the main reason Zaza Hasny made the switch from public to international school for her children.
She shares, “My boys are better in English than Bahasa Malaysia and this made coping with the local syllabus harder for them.”
“We found an international Islamic school that offers IGCSE curriculum with subjects taught in English, while also having routine Islamic studies. My boys are doing extremely well in this school.”
For Junita, on the other hand, the reason for choosing an international school over a public school was more about giving her children global exposure while striking a balance between academics and extra-curricular activities.
“The uncertainty and rapid changes in our local education system worries me. There should be more emphasis on English because, like it or not, it is a global language.”
“But holding on to my roots is also important so I found an international school that puts emphasis on English but also upholds Asian values, so they are rather strict in terms of discipline.”
“The school my children currently attend also places great value on a good balance of academics and sports which is vital to me. Sport plays a crucial role in instilling good sportsmanship, developing soft skills and learning to play/work as a team which I find very lacking in today’s young generation,” she elaborates.
Private and international schools for holistic education
Education, after all, is not just about academics but also building character, and educating a child takes three: school, parents and the child itself.
The increasing number of international schools is good not only for expatriate parents and children but Malaysian families too.
Local children attending these international schools are being exposed to a diverse curriculum, cultures and languages from a young age, helping them to grow to be true global citizens.
Similarly, private schools can be a great option too although they will probably not have as diverse a classroom as an international school.
Nevertheless, the point to note is that they provide a much-coveted global exposure with a local flavour, meaning your children get to be global citizens, but have their roots firmly in their own country.
School Advisor.my provides information on private and international schools, extra-curricular activities as well as other education-related topics in Malaysia.