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Pub­lic or pri­vate? IB or IPC? Get started ex­plor­ing the di­verse range of pri­mary school­ing op­tions in Malaysia

Your choice of pri­mary school will not only need to suit your chil­dren’s needs, but sup­port your fam­ily’s prac­ti­cal cir­cum­stances too. Melinda Roos sifts through

the many op­tions avail­able here in Malaysia

Choos­ing a pri­mary school for your child in Malaysia is not much dif­fer­ent from choos­ing a preschool (see How to Choose a Preschool, on page 40) – there are the mat­ters of lo­ca­tion, kind of school and learn­ing pro­gram, and cost to take into ac­count.

What sets the two apar t is the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tional phi­los­o­phy and school sys­tem se­lec­tion. This de­ci­sion is cru­cial par­tic­u­larly for ex­pa­tri­ate fam­i­lies as the na­ture and length of ex­pa­tri­ate con­tracts may ne­ces­si­tate a move or repa­tri­a­tion, and scholas­tic con­ti­nu­ity will help to pro­vide sta­bil­ity.

Most ex­pa­tri­ates will opt for an ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem that mir­rors that of their home coun­try: Bri­tish ex­pats for a Bri­tish sys­tem, North­ern Amer­i­can ex­pats for an Amer­i­can cur­ricu­lum, for ex­am­ple.Where that is un­avail­able, the next best op­tion is to con­sider one that is clos­est to your home coun­try’s sys­tem. For­tu­nately in Malaysia, there are in­ter­na­tional schools of­fer­ing French, Ger­man,Aus­tralian or Ja­panese cur­ric­ula.

For long-term ex­pats and Malaysia res­i­dents, a pri­mary school ed­u­ca­tion paves the way for chil­dren to choose a sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram, be it Amer­i­can style SAT prepa­ra­tion, In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate or A-lev­els. To make this tran­si­tion seam­less, it is ideal to choose a pri­mary school cur­ricu­lum that sup­ports those plans.


For ex­pa­tri­ate fam­i­lies the na­ture and length of ex­pa­tri­ate con­tracts may ne­ces­si­tate a move or repa­tri­a­tion;

scholas­tic con­ti­nu­ity will help to pro­vide



Ac­cord­ing to the World Ed­u­ca­tions News and Re­views (WENR), an au­thor­i­ta­tive news and in­for­ma­tion source for pro­fes­sion­als in in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion, “the most widely used cur­ricu­lum at the pri­mary and mid­dle school lev­els is the In­ter­na­tional Pri­mary Cur­ricu­lum (IPC) for ages 3-11.”

Cur­rently of­fered in more than 65 coun­tries glob­ally, its provider, Field­work Ed­u­ca­tion, de­scribes it as “a com­pre­hen­sive, the­matic, cre­ative cur­ricu­lum for 3-12 year olds, with a clear process of learn­ing, and with s e ifi learn­ing goals or e ery sub­ject, for in­ter­na­tional mind­ed­ness and for per­sonal learn­ing”.

Sub­ject goals cover facts and in­for­ma­tion in the ar­eas of Lan­guage Arts, Math­e­mat­ics, Sci­ence, ICT & Com­put­ing,Tech­nol­ogy, His­tory, Geog­ra­phy, Mu­sic, Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion, Art, and So­ci­ety.

Per­sonal goals fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing the learn­ers’ dis­po­si­tions like en­quiry, re­silience, moral­ity, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, thought­ful­ness, co­op­er­a­tion, re­spect, and adapt­abil­ity. Th­ese are built into learn­ing tasks for stu­dents to ex­pe­ri­ence and prac­tice.

In­ter­na­tional Learn­ing goals aim to “help chil­dren star t de­vel­op­ing a global aware­ness and gain an in­creas­ing sense of them­selves, their com­mu­nity and the world around them, as well as in­spir­ing pos­i­tive ac­tion and en­gage­ment with global is­sues”.

Some in­ter­na­tional schools of­fer­ing IPC in Malaysia are Gar­den In­ter­na­tional School (GIS), Nexus

In­ter­na­tional School in Pu­tra­jaya; In­ter­na­tional School @ Parkc­ity (ISP), and Tenby In­ter­na­tional School (TIS) among oth­ers.


The IB pro­gram builds on the tenets of in­quiry, in­ter­ac­tiv­ity, cross-dis­ci­plinary con­nec­tions and in­ter­na­tional aware­ness. It is of­fered in three sep­a­rate cur­ricu­lums: the Pri­mary Years Pro­gram (3-12), the Mid­dleYears Pro­gram (11-16) and the Di­ploma Pro­gram (16-19).

When choos­ing this cur­ricu­lum for your child, it is im­por­tant to note that the pro­grams, while sep­a­rate, build upon each other. Ac­cord­ing to WENR, they are also de­signed to e e i le enough to ac­com­mo­date na­tional or lo­cal cur­ricu­lum re­quire­ments.”

There are a lim­ited num­ber of in­ter­na­tional schools that of­fer the IB pro­gram at pri­mary school level, namely IGB In­ter­na­tional School and Fairview In­ter­na­tional School. Most in­ter­na­tional schools of­fer­ing the IB pro­gram in Malaysia cater to the IB Di­ploma Pro­gramme for higher years.


Some in­ter­na­tional schools may of­fer an Amer­i­can cur­ricu­lum, for ex­am­ple, but will supplement this with IB or A-Level classes at the sec­ondary level.



The top in­ter­na­tional schools come with state-of-the-art fa­cil­i­ties and mostly cater to a well-rounded de­vel­op­ment pro­gram cov­er­ing aca­demics, cre­ative arts, sports and recre­ation, and dig­i­tal pro­grams.

With dig­i­tal learn­ing and tech­nol­ogy at the fore­front of to­day’s ed­u­ca­tion, some schools pro­vide stu­dents with iPads or lap­tops, while oth­ers re­quire this as a com­pul­sory learn­ing tool for stu­dents to have upon the start of classes. It is no sur­prise that th­ese types of schools come with a higher price tag.

How­ever, not all in­ter­na­tional schools are built the same when it comes to fee struc­tures. A quick glance at the ta­ble on the pre­vi­ous page, data lifted from each school’s in­di­vid­ual web­site for the school cal­en­dar year 2016-2017, yields the fol­low­ing com­par­i­son on one term’s fees (in Ring­git). Note that th­ese schools have three terms in one school cal­en­dar year.

Th­ese do not in­clude ad­mis­sions fees which are more or less equiv­a­lent to a term’s fee, a non-re­fund­able en­rol­ment fee and a re­fund­able de­posit equiv­a­lent to one terms’ fee in ac­cor­dance with your child’s year level, which are all re­quired pay­ments once your child has been ac­cepted to the school.

Ex­cept for ELC Sun­gai Bu­loh, the fees above cover the cost of school sup­plies, books and read­ing ma­te­ri­als. The In­ter­na­tional School @ Parkc­ity (ISP) for ex­am­ple, pro­vides iPads as learn­ing tools for all their stu­dents from Year 3 on­wards, at no ad­di­tional cost to the par­ents.

Sib­ling reg­is­tra­tion and term fee dis­counts also ap­ply and may vary. Reg­is­tra­tion fee dis­counts on sib­lings can range be­tween 25% to 50% on the third, fourth and sub­se­quent sib­lings.Term fee dis­counts may range from 6% to 10%, as in the case of Alice Smith School.

Once you have sin­gled out the in­ter­na­tional school of your choice, he their e site or the fine rint and other con­di­tions, as each school has its own fee struc­tures.

Other costs to fac­tor in are trans­porta­tion, uni­forms, meals and snacks, school trips and spe­cial­ist ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties not cov­ered by the school, like taek­wondo, mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, bal­let and dance classes, sport­ing event par­tic­i­pa­tion and other ac­tiv­i­ties out­side of the school.


Pri­vate schools are an op­tion for those with more con­ser­va­tive bud­gets. Seko­lah Sri KDU in Kota Da­mansara and Raf­fle­sia Pri­vate School in Pu­chong are two ex­am­ples. Both of­fer the lo­cal pri­mary cur­ricu­lum and an­nual fees range from RM15,000 to RM25,000.

Tak­ing your chil­dren with you on a for­eign as­sign­ment is no easy feat. The kind of school they will at­tend plays a big role in how they will adapt to a new coun­try, and will im­pact their lives in a big way. It is nec­es­sary there­fore to make the right choice that best suits your chil­dren’s needs, as well as sup­port the fam­ily’s prac­ti­cal cir­cum­stances.

For a com­pre­hen­sive list of in­ter­na­tional and pri­vate preschools, visit the Ex­pa­tri­ate Lifestyle web­site at

A pri­mary

school ed­u­ca­tion paves the way for chil­dren to choose a sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram; choose a pri­mary school cur­ricu­lum that sup­ports those


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