Types of International School Curriculums in Malaysia

Straits International School primary students

Years ago, the primary purpose of establishing international schools in Malaysia was to educate expatriate students.

However, the growth of Malaysia’s middle class and the multiplication of international schools in Malaysia have contributed to the increase of Malaysian students in these institutions.

Today, international schools in Malaysia offer some of the best curriculums that equip the students for all-round success.

Here are the types of international schools curriculums in Malaysia.


  1. British Curriculum

The British curriculum is also known as the English curriculum. It is divided into stages, including foundation, primary, secondary, and pre-university.

The foundation stage is aimed to cater to preschoolers, and as they progress in their education, they pass through the other stages until they are ready for university.

The British curriculum is known for its balanced syllabus and world-class examination quality. It offers many benefits such as:

  • An extensive network of British curriculum schools locally and globally
  • A range of tuition fees to choose from — affordable to expensive ones
  • Recognised and respected globally, with examinations like GCSE, IGCSE, and A levels accepted for most international programs
  • The curriculum encourages students to solve problems, think critically and partake in extracurricular activities.


  1. Australian Curriculum

When the Australian curriculum was introduced in Malaysia, it used to vary across different states.

In 2009, The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) was established to develop and review the curriculum. Today, the Australian curriculum is one across the country.

It is divided into the F-10 curriculum (Foundation to Year 10) for primary school students and senior secondary curriculum (Year 11 and Year 12) for those in secondary schools.

The Australian curriculum is different because it sets an expectation for every student to fit the student’s requirements and interests, irrespective of their background. Other benefits include:

  • Less rigorous examinations
  • Greater focus on holistic learning through assignments and classwork


  1. American Curriculum

The American curriculum is a decentralised system that varies across states. The same curriculum goes for the different districts across the United States.

The goal of the decentralised curriculum is to give American International Schools in

Malaysia the freedom to choose the best education available for the students.

The American curriculum is divided into three stages, including elementary school (K-5th grade), middle school / junior high (6th to 8th grade), and high school (9th to 12th grade).

When it comes to implementation, the teachers will observe the kids as the class is ongoing and grade their progress based on assignments, projects, quizzes, and class discussions. The benefits include:

  • Flexibility – students are encouraged to choose from a wide range of subjects
  • Graded by continuous assessments; no major examination to worry about


  1. International Baccalaureate (IB) Curriculum

The curriculum was founded in 1968 to develop holistic students who are internationally minded and understand their roles as members of the global community.

For all educational levels, the IB curriculum engages the transdisciplinary approach to teach students how to correlate and apply the concepts learned in class to solve real-world problems.

The IB curriculum aims to produce students who are enquirers, thinkers, communicators, knowledge seekers and risk-takers.

The IB program is divided into four stages: Primary Years Programme (PYP) for children aged 3 to 12 years old, Middle Years Programme (MYP) for children aged 11 to 16 years old, Diploma Programme, and Career-Related Programme for children aged 16 to 19 years old. The benefits of the IB curriculum include:

  • A holistic approach that promotes the application of knowledge instead of memorisation
  • A focus on personal skills development instead of academic achievements only


In a Nutshell

Before deciding on the school for your children, whether the public, private, or international school in Malaysia, it is crucial for you to learn about the type of curriculum used in that institution.

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