Schools in Malaysia

Education in Malaysia is of a high standard. Expat parents will have a variety of options to choose from, with the schooling system broadly divided into public, private and international schools. Malay is the language of instruction at mainstream public schools and private schools. A small percentage of public schools – known as vernacular schools – teach in Mandarin or Tamil. Due to the language barrier and a number of bureaucratic obstacles, especially when it comes to enrolment, most expats choose to send their children to a private or international school. 
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Public schools in Malaysia are in abundance. Unlike Malaysian citizens, expat parents are required to pay tuition fees for public school attendance, though the costs are much lower than for private and international schools. Expat children must have a foreign student pass to attend public schools, which creates a significant amount of extra admin for parents.

Facilities in these schools are adequate and they have most of the basic items needed for education, but student-to-teacher ratios can be quite high.

There are a number of good private schools in Malaysia, which usually have better facilities and smaller class sizes than public schools, but they can be expensive. The main language of instruction in private schools is Malay, but maths and science classes are taught in a combination of Malay and English. Private schools must have certification from the Ministry of Home Affairs to admit foreign students, but students themselves don’t need any special documentation to attend.

Parents can generally expect a good quality of education at private schools. Cost-wise, private schools are a good middle ground between public schools and international schools.

There is a broad range of private and international schools in Malaysia catering to the diverse population of expats who call the country home. These schools usually maintain the primary teaching language, teaching methodologies and curriculum of their country of origin.

International schools most commonly teach the American or British curriculum, with many schools also offering the International Baccalaureate programme.

Enrolment in these schools is expensive so parents will need to ensure there’s plenty of room in the budget for tuition fees. On top of tuition, many schools charge extra for textbooks, uniforms, school lunches and bus fare. Top schools may also have waiting lists, so it’s best to begin the enrolment process as early as possible.

The location of a school is also something to consider, as traffic in Malaysian cities, especially Kuala Lumpur, can lengthen the commute time considerably. Most private and international schools will have a bus service available to students, depending on where they live.