DESPITE charging fees that can go as high as RM100,000 per annum, international schools are popular as parents who can afford them believe their children will be more globally competitive, well-rounded and proficient in English.
Businesswoman Sherina Ch’ng said teachers at international schools have a different approach, ability and skills compared to those at government schools.
“International schools have become a necessity rather than a luxury. There are various types offering a range of fees, so parents need not be super rich to send their children to one,” she said.
“Middle-income families can afford to send their children if they save or cut down on other unnecessary expenses,” added the mother-of-two who pays about RM40,000 yearly for her son’s Year One tuition fees at an international school in the Klang Valley.
The amount does not include meals, special classes, school trips and uniforms.
A check by StarEducate showed that international schools in the Klang Valley charge each pupil between RM12,000 and RM78,000 per annum at nursery and kindergarten levels, and between RM14,000 and RM84,000 at primary level. At secondary level, fees ranged from RM17,000 to RM105,000 per annum, depending on the location and reputation of the schools.
The sums quoted are for tuition fees alone and do not include the deposit, building fund levy, as well as application, registration, enrolment, installation and boarding fees.
Working mother J. Tan, who pays about RM50,000 per year for her son to study the American syllabus, feels it was “worth it” as her 12-year-old had improved academically and became more self-confident.
“Since he started attending international school more than a year ago, he has also excelled in extra-curricular activities like sports and music. He would not have had such opportunities in a national school where there’s an over-emphasis of academic-based grading,” she said.
Thomas Gomez, 39, claimed that international schools provide “better classmates and environment” but those with quality teachers and good teaching methodology cost a bomb.
With international schools mushrooming now, even those who do not love teaching are hired to fill vacancies, he said.
“Many new schools are set up to make money and teacher-pinching is rampant.
“Parents feel short-changed because some of their kids have even endured not having a teacher for one whole month,” he said.
For those who cannot afford international schools, another option is to homeschool or send their children to learning centres that teach the same syllabus.
Bank officer and mother-of-three Irene Tang, 48, said she and her friends send their children to such centres which charge about RM12,000 per year.
“Rather than force my daughter to study something she is not interested in, I enrolled her for a British education, which is more to her liking,” she said.