All you want from a school are three simple things: an amazing education, a varied range of extra curricular activities, and exceptional pastoral care. The good news is, with the wealth of world-class educational establishments here in Malaysia, you can find those things. However, within this large and growing sector, the choices can be overwhelming. That’s what this guide is dedicated to doing: helping you find the right place for your kids.
There are numerous options and opportunities available, but first let’s consider the basics. Education in Malaysia is overseen by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). There are many types of education establishments including public, private, vocational and international schools.
Being in a foreign environment, it is natural for expatriate parents to be apprehensive about the quality of education their children will receive. But you needn’t worry; there are plenty of schools in Malaysia that are on par with global standings and are progressively becoming a competitive force in the education industry.
Additionally, and beneficially, your kids will not only receive a top-class education, but will be brought up in a truly diverse environment. There are no better candidates than expatriate parents to understand the significance of being a global citizen in this world of shrinking boundaries. To become global citizens, individuals start young in schools.
International schools here are a melting pot of ethnicities, with students tracing their roots to various countries and backgrounds. This provides children with the benefit of immersing themselves in a new culture, while at the same time being able to connect with their own.
It’s a characteristic impressed upon them by international schools: that the students are able to learn more about the traditions, practices and histories of different ethnicities and socialise with people of diverse backgrounds.
The Journey, The Schools
Entering kindergarten is an exciting time as parents and teachers try to make the transition from the comfort of home to school as smooth as possible. Pre-schools in Malaysia prominently offer Montessori or British National Curriculum. However, others such as the KL International Kids Club have the Canada Alberta Education syllabus and Steps Ahead Learners focuses on the Victoria Readers programme.
Before you know it, the kids will be promoted to primary school. Here, the syllabus choice diversifies. Besides the British National Curriculum adopted by many institutions, there is also the New South Wales curriculum (taught at the Australian International School Malaysia); the German curriculum (at Deutsche Schule Kuala Lumpur); and the American curriculum at the International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL), as well as many others.
Along with the well-established schools, others are comparatively new to the market. In the last five years, places like Regent International Schools, The International School@Parkcity (ISP) and St. John’s International School have sprung up, with more such as Shattuck-St Mary's School, Peninsula International School Australia, Kingsgate International School and King Henry VIII College following suit.
Regent is the first and only international school to have opened in Klang and teaches the British National Curriculum. The International School@Parkcity has not only primary but pre-school and secondary level learning as well. St. John’s prepares its students for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level qualification through examinations by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).
Malaysia has no shortage of secondary level schools with high quality tutoring to prepare the young generation for university and the working world. Longstanding titans like Alice Smith School and The International School of Penang (Uplands) have seen new schools imported from the UK join their ranks. Marlborough College Malaysia, for example, is a co-educational, independent boarding and day school for students between eleven and eighteen years old.
Epsom College Malaysia is also operational with a Junior School and Senior School. Academics encompass IGCSEs and A-levels for senior pupils and New English Curriculum for juniors. The new offshore campus will expand Epsom’s reputation as a provider of premium education, maintaining links with the best medical schools in the UK and Russell Group universities, as well as local universities, colleges and medical schools.
In Malaysia your kids will not only receive a top-class education, but will be brought up in a truly diverse environment. Many private universities base their education on twinning programmes with first rate universities worldwide. Taylor’s University, for example, offers a degree in law in exclusive collaboration with the University of Reading, UK.
In fact, many overseas universities have opened offshore campuses in Malaysia. These include the University of Nottingham, Heriot-Watt University, Monash University, Swinburne University of Technology in Sarawak and Curtin University Sarawak.
If you are opting for boarding schools, the selection is wide. Nexus International School has opened the Nexus Boarding House with full boarding, weekday boarding and day boarding. Kolej Tuanku Jaafar with its co-educational, British-style boarding school has a world class library, as well as technology and sports facilities. The secondary school is also a member of the Federation of British International Schools in Southeast Asia (FOBISSEA).
Spread over 7.5 acres, Prince of Wales Island International School (POWIIS) in Penang offers flexi-boarding for every level of and is protected by extensive security systems.
Extra Curricular Activities
Outside the classroom, children also need an outlet to develop their potential, be it academically, artistically or in sports. There are many activity centres that cater to all subjects.
Learning a new language is always advantageous and your child can do so at centres like Alliance Française or the Goethe-Institut. Lorna Whiston is also an English language learning centre with Speech and Drama classes in small, friendly groups of 12.
A very inspirational centre, KidZania, allows children to work adult jobs and earn currency. The company, which has 20 outlets around the world, is built on a child-sized replica of a real city, with vehicles and pedestrians moving along its streets.
As you can see, there are many reasons to be excited by the education landscape in Malaysia. Hopefully, this guide will help you find the perfect place for those young enquiring minds.