Why Study at an International School?
by StudyMalaysia.com on November 30, 2021 | International School Education in Malaysia
What is an international school?
There are many types of international schools but broadly, these schools make up a variety of school systems that represent diverse formats and curricula, with some being more ‘international’ than others. In Malaysia, international schools offer an international curriculum which is different from the Malaysian national curriculum. In addition, many international schools place an emphasis on international education (offering programmes such as the International Baccalaureate) and developing its students as well-rounded global citizens.
In Malaysia, international schools started out as education providers for children of expatriate parents working at embassies, multi-national companies and other foreign establishments in the country. However, in recent years, there has been a trend in Malaysian parents opting for the alternative curriculum offered by international schools and has resulted in the increase in the number of such schools in Malaysia. The popularity of these schools has also attracted the enrolment of many international students from other countries such as Korea, India, Britain, Indonesia, Iran, and Singapore.
So what are some of the reasons that have made international schools a popular choice for many parents and their children? Though priorities vary from parent to parent when picking out a school for their child, some of the common reasons are outlined below.
High quality education at a competitive price
The fees at international schools in Malaysia range from RM20,000 to RM40,000 per academic year, making it much more affordable than the schools in neighbouring countries (e.g. Singapore - S$30,000 per academic year, Thailand - THB300,000 – 600,000 per year; and Australia - AUD$30,000 – AUD$35,000 per year)
In addition, many of the international schools are well established, some with over 20 years of experience. These international schools are also members of international organisations whose aims include accreditation, quality assurance and educational fellowship to improve teaching, learning, and curriculum. These organisations include the Council of International Schools (CIS); the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC); and The Federation of British International Schools in South East Asia and East Asia (FOBISSEA). The affiliation of these schools to international standards also enables students in these schools to meet and interact with students from other member schools around the world.
Facilities and environment
Education is no longer restricted to academics and parents are becoming more receptive to giving students a chance to hone special skills and get trained in a niche of their choice. Most international schools offer an extensive range of extra-curricular activities for its students to choose from. These activities are led by trained staff or professionals and supported with the required facilities. These schools aim to provide as many opportunities as possible for its students so that they are able to develop and nurture their talents and potential.
Facilities that one can expect at an international school are a library, computer labs with professional software, science labs, performing arts theatres (music, dance and drama), gymnasiums, sports fields or courts, a swimming pool and well equipped classrooms that come with Internet connection.
It is common for international schools to offer boarding facilities, making it possible for students to attend the school despite living in another city or even country. Boarders are supervised by resident house masters or mistresses who are responsible for creating and maintaining a close-knit, family atmosphere in which boarders can feel at home during term time. They are given support while learning to be independent, disciplined and responsible on their journey to maturity. The house masters and mistresses also monitor after school and weekend activities; and attend to the personal, academic, and welfare needs of students under their care.
As mentioned earlier, international schools offer a curriculum that is different from the Malaysian national curriculum. The international schools in Malaysia offer one of the following curricula – Australian, British, American or Canadian curriculum – starting from preparatory or reception stage (age 3) right up to pre-tertiary level, allowing a child to complete his or her education in Malaysia before moving on to a college or university. Besides subscribing to one of these curricula, many international schools also offer the International Baccalaureate.
The pre-tertiary qualifications offered at the international schools in Malaysia are widely accepted by top universities around the world. Many of the international schools boast a good track record of students entering worldclass universities after completing their pre-tertiary education in Malaysia.
English is used as a medium of instruction although other languages are also taught. English language programmes for students who need extra support in their English proficiency are also offered at many of these schools. Students can look forward to a varied curriculum as international schools often teach subjects not available at public schools, e.g. performing arts, music, literature, culinary arts, and many more.
Like international schools all over the world, the international schools in Malaysia employ qualified teachers from various countries who are trained to deliver the prescribed curriculum. Coupled with the increasing diversity of students, this enables many opportunities to learn about the cultures of different countries. The teacher to student ratio is lower than at a public school, ranging from 15-25 students a class, making it possible for teachers to devote more time and attentions to each student.
Malaysia is a country of many attractions. Its warm and sunny climate makes it conducive for outdoor sports and activities all year round. There are also many places of attraction across the country – from the seaside to rainforests and highlands – that allow schools to carry out excursions and on-site learning expeditions. The country is safe and peaceful politically as well as geographically, free from major natural disasters.
The multicultural community of Malaysia supports the international schools’ aim to make its students global citizens. Students are exposed to multiple languages, culture and tradition and will not be disappointed by the variety of culinary treats the country has to offer.
The Malaysian government has spared no effort in ensuring that the quality of education in Malaysia, including that offered at international schools, are of global standards. There are currently 93 international schools across the country, giving parents many options when choosing the right school for their child. Malaysia is also home to reputable foreign school branches such as Epsom College and Marlborough College from the UK. Parents will also be pleasantly surprised by the cost of living and school fees (ranging between RM20,000 and RM50,000 per year) in Malaysia which are relatively more affordable compared to many other countries.
English is widely used in Malaysia and is taught at all types of schools. The majority of the Malaysian community speaks English, making communication easy for international students who speak the language, while allowing those who are still learning to practise. Students will also have the opportunity to learn and speak Bahasa Melayu which is the official language for Malaysia.
Opportunities for parents
Parents who are considering Malaysian international schools for their children can also reside in the country under the ‘Malaysia My Second Home’ (MM2H) programme. In addition, their children will be able to study in Malaysia as full-time students (from age 4 right up to higher education level) without having to apply for a student visa.
The MM2H migration programme allows parents to be close to their children while they receive education at an international school. MM2H comes with many benefits. As an MM2H holder, parents will be able to have 100% ownership of their own business in Malaysia, and work for a maximum of 20 hours per week if they are above 50 years old. They are allowed to invest in businesses, stock markets and funds. They will receive a tax-free car incentive if they decide to either import or buy a car in Malaysia. They will also be eligible to be considered for housing or car loans by banks in Malaysia and be allowed to purchase property which are priced above MYR500,000. More information can be obtained from http://www.mm2h.gov.my/applynew.php
Opportunities for students
If you reside in another country and send your child to an international school in Malaysia, it will help them become more independent as they experience the daily challenges of living on their own. Additionally, studying at an international school will help your child grow in personality, develop increased self-confidence and maturity, and gain a wider perspective of other cultures and appreciate their own. In terms of academic opportunity, students may have access to special programmes not available at home.
Studying at an international school opens up a multitude of opportunities for students as they build a solid network of lifelong friends and contacts from different countries which could prove useful later in life. A child who has received an international education is likely to be at an advantage particularly with employers who seek candidates who are savvy in cross-cultural knowledge and socialising.
(Note : Fees and other data quoted here are an estimation only)
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