While catching up with some of your parent friends over the weekend, you may notice that some of them have either chosen to send their children to international schools or are considering the switch.
The more you hear about their experiences, the more curious you get. “Should I consider transferring my child to an international school too?”
International schools were first set up in Malaysia to cater to the children of expatriates studying in Malaysia.
However, over the recent decade the number of international schools have ballooned due to the rising demand of local parents who want to enrol or transfer their children to international schools too.
According to an article published last year by Relocate Global, the total number of English-medium international schools in the country has increased by 75% since 2012, and student enrolment has increased by 87%.
In addition, approximately 50% of international school students are now locals.
So, what makes parents want to switch their children to international schools? If you are considering it too, here are the reasons cited by most.
1. Well-rounded holistic education
Malaysian public education has always had a strong academic focus, emphasising on rote-learning and exam-based assessments. As such, students spend most of their time listening to the lesson prepared by the teacher that does little to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
International schools take on a more hands-on approach to learning with a focus on personal development by encouraging students to “think outside the box”.
These prove to be better tools in helping students develop into well-rounded adults who can carry themselves well in real life situations.
2. Diverse and internationally recognised curriculum
Public schools have a standardised curriculum where every student must take the same core subjects and electives.
While students can choose to go into arts or science streams in upper secondary school, a larger emphasis is still placed on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects compared to the arts.
On the other hand, international schools utilise curriculum from other countries, which is therefore recognised worldwide and conducted fully in English.
These curricula differ from local systems by offering a wider range of subjects for the arts and humanities stream which are not available in most public schools. These include fine arts, music, literature and drama.
3. Low student-to-teacher ratio
It is always best if a teacher is able to help every single student in their class. However, sometimes that is impossible, especially in public schools where the average number of students in a class can go up to 40.
Public school teachers also have to teach several classes in a day and therefore cannot cater individually to each student. Hence, students will have to either figure out the subjects by themselves or through private tuition after school.
On the other hand, smaller class sizes in international schools allow teachers to spend a significant amount of time to hone or go over any of their students’ strengths and weaknesses in any area or subject.
4. Exposure to new cultures
Malaysia is racially and culturally diverse. However, for students who have grown up in the country, these cultures have blended over the years and become familiar.
International schools present the option of expanding one’s interaction beyond just Malaysians to people from various countries, who may have vastly different cultures than a purely Asian one.
This will expose children to different people and situations to cultivate their understanding and acceptance for people of different backgrounds.
Extra opportunities for extracurricular activities
Both public and international schools include extracurricular activities in their curriculum. However, the number and variety of these activities are restricted in public schools due to government standardising and shortage of school funding.
International school fees include everything they have to offer to the students, including a wider variety of extracurricular activities and a larger budget for out-of-classroom opportunities.
These activities can help children find and develop new skills in the area they are interested in and gain confidence in their talents.
Best decision for your child
Either way, there is no wrong or right when it comes to your child’s education, as both public and international schools are recognised in Malaysia.
Regardless of the type of school, your child will still be able to have a quality education, albeit different methods of teaching, and enrol into local or international tertiary education should they desire to in the future.
Therefore, do your research on the pros and cons of international and public schools, get the input of your child and enquire if they are ready for a switch .
Also get first-hand experiences of the schools by visiting them before making your final decision.
SchoolAdvisor.my provides information on private and international schools, extra-curricular activities as well as other education-related topics in Malaysia.