Malaysian Education Landscape

Parents are often uncertain about whether to enrol their child in an international school and the primary deterrent is usually the cost of doing so. With the increase in the number of international schools in the Malaysia, however, fees have become more competitive as these institutions vie for increased enrolments.

Before entering your child into an international school, you will need to evaluate how much you can afford to spend on your child’s education per year, and multiply that by the number of years you will expect your child to spend in an international school environment. This will help you decide which international school will be affordable for you in the long term.

Here we lay out a comparison of the entire spectrum of education available in the Malaysian educational landscape.

    Government School System

  • Parents pay minimal fees
  • Malaysian curriculum
  • Teaching medium is Bahasa Malaysia
  • Traditional, teacher-centered teaching structure, not engaging a more enquiry-based learning environment with strong student participation
  • Rote learning impeding creative or critical thinking skills
  • Overcrowded with less personalised attention given to students
  • Generally poor discipline
  • 2012 Malaysian Education Blueprint made recent changes by reducing emphasis on exams and rote learning and moving towards only one centralised exam at the end of secondary education at Form 5

    Vernacular School System (Chinese/Tamil Schools)

  • Parents pay minimal fees
  • Malaysian curriculum
  • Generally considered better quality education than government school system but English is poor because teaching medium is in Chinese or Tamil
  • Facilities enhanced and developed in the last decade through community effort
  • Traditional, teacher-centered teaching structure, not engaging a more enquiry-based learning environment with strong student participation
  • Rote learning encouraged impeding creative or critical thinking skills
  • Overcrowded with less personalised attention given to students
  • Undue stress on students because of excessive homework given and strain on students’ backs due to heavy school bags
  • Teachers accused of not teaching properly in school, wanting to solicit tuition business after school

    Private School System

  • Tuition fees range from RM10,000 to RM40,000 per year
  • Malaysian curriculum
  • Teaching medium in dual language: English and Bahasa Malaysia
  • Examination papers available in dual language
  • Better school facilities and teachers
  • More personalised attention given as smaller student numbers per class
  • Strong emphasis on core subjects such as English, Maths & Science
  • Wider choice of co-curricular activities with emphasis on holistic education

    International School System

  • Tuition fees range from RM25,000 to RM100,000 per year
  • Wide curriculum range from British, Australian, American, Canadian, Islamic to International Baccalaureate
  • Teaching medium is English
  • Mix of syllabus origin qualified teachers and local teachers
  • State of the art facilities
  • More personalised attention given as smaller student numbers per class
  • One major centralised exam at the end of secondary education at Year 11
  • Vast choice of co-curricular activities with emphasis on holistic education and exposure to international conferences and competitions.

    Homeschool System

  • Conducted at home by parents
  • Conducted in a community of like-minded parents
  • Conducted in a learning center which is usually operating under a tuition licence or enrichment education licence but not approved by MOE as a mainstream school
  • Not accredited by international examination boards
  • Offers international syllabus like IGCSE
  • Tuition fees in learning centers range from RM6,000 to RM25,000 per year
  • Students are considered private candidates and must sit the IGCSE exams at an international school or the British Council
  • Teachers may or may not be properly qualified