Selecting the right international school in Malaysia

With over 100 international schools in Malaysia, but significant demand for school places coming from both local and expatriate families, choosing the right school can be challenging and pressured. Malaysia’s Mint Communications, which organises the Private & International School Fairs for families, shares some advice about Malaysia.

International school Malaysia

Source: International School of Kuala Lumpur: Rendering of the new Ampang Hilir Campus

Key considerations: cost, curriculum, learning approach

A major consideration is the cost of an international education as annual fees can amount to more than RM150,000 (Malaysian ringgit) for schools that offer boarding facilities. However, there is a wide range of schools charging varying fees with many schools charging RM50,000 and below, so some research is necessary to find the one that matches your requirements. As tuition fees can be expensive, parents wishing to send their children to international schools should begin their research on schools as well as financial planning early.Another consideration is the curriculum as schools offer different curricula. In addition to the National curriculum of England (also known as the British curriculum), parents can also consider the International Baccalaureate, American curriculum, Australian curriculum, Ontario curriculum, Islamic curriculum, Cambridge and Singapore curriculum. Each curriculum has its own unique characteristics, such as teaching or delivery methodology, learning philosophy or objectives, focus or emphasis, type of assessment, and extracurricular activity programme. Therefore, parents need to keep in mind the needs of their child as well as their tertiary education plans for the child in order to determine which curriculum would be most suitable.It is also essential that parents find out the levels of education offered at the schools they are interested in. Some schools only offer certain grade or year levels so it is recommended that parents check with the schools before enrolment to avoid unnecessary transfer in between levels. Parents may also want to consider the history of the schools and how this may impact the learning; some well-established schools for instance, practice time-honoured educational traditions, while newer schools may embrace contemporary methods of learning.For those families considering boarding schools in Malaysia, boarding arrangements available are typically on a full, weekly, or flexi-boarding basis. Upon choosing a particular boarding preference, parents should then proceed to find out which schools are able to accommodate that choice.

Registration and accreditation

Regardless of the school that is eventually chosen, parents should check that the schools they are interested in are properly registered by the Malaysian Ministry of Education (MOE) and accredited by an internationally recognised body such as the Council of International Schools (CIS) or the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Practical help for parents

To find out more about the various options for international schools in Malaysia, parents may wish to attend the 5th Private & International School Fair which will be held 25-26 July 2015 at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre in Kuala Lumpur.Recognising the need by parents for information on international schools, the first Private & International School Fair took place in 2012. Since then, their popularity has grown and there are now annual fairs held in Kuala Lumpur (in July and November), Johor and Penang. Admission is free and parents are able to meet with representatives from a wide number of Malaysia's international schools, preschools and learning centres all in one place.According to Nickie Yew, co-founder and director of Mint Communications Sdn Bhd, "The main objective of these fairs is to enable parents to find out more about their options in international education, and to allow schools to provide important information to parents. As there is great variability in terms of offerings by international schools, the fair hopes to gather leading international schools in one accessible location so that parents are able to find a suitable school for their children."For more Re:locate news and features about education, click here