Private School vs. International School in Malaysia: How to Choose?

drawing class students

One of our many obligations as parents is to provide our children with the best education possible.

This begins with choosing the best school, from preschool to university, which can be one of the most difficult parental decisions you will ever have to make, and the process demands careful deliberation.

Choosing the right school for your child is a crucial decision since it helps their character and determines the course of their career.

To choose which school is ideal for your child, you must first understand the difference between a private school and an international school. This will help you determine which is right for your child.


Private Schools in Malaysia

Private schools, which are operated by non-government and non-state businesses and provide preschool, primary, and secondary education, are popular among urban Malaysians.

The primary distinguishing feature is that private educational institutions adhere to the Malaysian National Curriculum for Primary School Standard Curriculum (Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah) and Secondary School Standard Curriculum (Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Menengah), as mandated by the Education Act 1996. Tuition payments support these schools and some grant scholarships. In order to receive admission, students may be required to complete an assessment and an interview.

Moreover, according to the latest announcement made by MOE (Ministry of Education Malaysia), the academic calendar for the 2022/2023 school session for states in Group A is from March 21, 2022, to March 11, 2023. For schools in the Group B states, the school session will also begin on the same date but will end on March 12, 2023. All private schools adhering to the Malaysian National Curriculum must follow the aforementioned dates.

International schools, on the other hand, will have more days of learning. For instance, the academic calendar for the 2022/2023 school session for Straits International School in Bayan Lepas Penang is from January, 2023.


Private School Characteristics

  • Teaching medium is Bahasa Melayu, with some dual language instruction in mathematics and science.
  • The learning content is largely focused on local topics.
  • Local teachers teach the classes.
  • Co-curricular activities are on offer.
  • All national schools in Malaysia use a structured approach for studying subjects and examinations.
  • The SPM/STPM credentials are required for admission to local public and private


International Schools in Malaysia

International schools vary from private schools in that the former are based on international education and accept curricula from various countries (for instance, the Cambridge International Examination or International Baccalaureate).

Parents frequently choose international schools to enable their children to gain international exposure and acquire foreign language skills through the school.

The primary and most popular curricula approved by the Education Ministry in Malaysia are the British, American, Australian, and Canadian curricula.

The bulk of these institutions provide instruction from pre-school through to external international examinations, such as the IGCSE , GCE “A” levels, or International Baccalaureate Diploma.

International schools are private schools in Malaysia that provide preschool, primary, and secondary school education utilising an international curriculum with English as the language of teaching.

These schools are not supervised by the Education Act of 1996 but are overseen by the Ministry of Education’s Private Education Division.

International schools frequently provide a wider variety of extracurricular activities, better amenities, and smaller class sizes.

Many have well-equipped science and computer laboratories; music, art, and dance subject-based rooms; well-stocked libraries; swimming pools; and outdoor and indoor sports facilities.

Although the tuition at these schools may be higher than private national schools, international schools give parents the option of providing their children with an alternate type of education—one that prepares them for the real world of global communication, international opportunity, and cultural variety.

They provide a more child-centred and comprehensive approach to learning. Students are given a wide range of activities to help them reach their full intellectual, physical, and social potential.

For example, Straits International School Penang offers a high quality British curriculum from 3 – 16 years old. The school follows the National Curriculum for England (NCE) leading to the Cambridge and Oxford AQA IGCSE qualifications in Year 11. On top of the curriculum, more than 130 Co-Curricular Activities are offered, along with the Duke of Edinburgh Award and a new International Learning opportunities for Students Programme, where students learn and compete together with students across the world.


In a Nutshell

Should You Enrol Your Children in a Malaysian Private or International School?

Many factors influence whether you should send your child to a private or international school in Malaysia. Aside from financial factors, the most significant consideration is the sort of future you desire for your child.

Students at international schools are taught by professional educators who are specialists in their subjects; it is no surprise that these schools generate graduates who are accepted by institutions worldwide.

If you want to provide your children with an education that will set them apart from their peers, an established international school in Malaysia, such as Straits International School in Bayan Lepas Penang, is the ideal choice.