The Top 6 Myths About International Schools

There are many common misconceptions surrounding international schools. Let's observe and clarify the top 6 common myths about international schools.
myths about international schools
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With over 200 international schools operating in Malaysia and a growing number, international schools are proving to be a good option for Malaysian families seeking an alternative educational experience for their children. But as more and more Malaysian families familiarize themselves with international education, many common myths and misconceptions still linger.

But are these misconceptions rooted in fact? Let’s look at some of the most common myths about international schools and establish the truth so you can feel confident in your knowledge of the true nature of international education.

Is ISKL one of the international schools you are considering for your child? Learn why ISKL could be the right choice for your family here.

What are the common myths about international schools in Malaysia

Below, we’ve outlined six common misconceptions about international schools:

1.  An international diploma will prevent my child from working in Malaysia

Some parents in Malaysia believe that an international school education would limit their child’s future and career options in Malaysia. However, students with an international school diploma are welcome to live and work in Malaysia.

There are some additional steps an international student in Malaysia may need to take in order to work in certain careers, such as a doctor or lawyer, such as taking successfully the national examination for Bahasa Malaysia. It is also compulsory for Malaysian students attending international school to take Bahasa Malaysia as world language.

There is a myriad of curriculums and programs that students can choose from in international schools, based on their suitability and learning needs. This feature offers students great flexibility in carving out paths to achieving their future career goals.

With exposure to experiential and holistic learning, students pick up valuable life skills that they can apply to their future careers, regardless of whether or not they choose to remain in Malaysia or live internationally.


2. International schools do not embrace native language or culture

A common concern among non-native English-speaking families is that an international school, where the language of instruction is English, will not embrace their child’s native language or home culture. Parents fear that their children may lose their native language skills altogether or lose interest in their native culture.

Diversity is an essential element of international education as an international school’s student body is composed of students from all over the world.

Many international schools offer a range of language courses and may even offer the students’ native language as a course option. It is important to review each prospective schools’ language opportunities.

International schools consist of teachers and students that are from different parts of the world which reinforces the diversity aspect and also encourages relatability between members of the community.


3. International schools are too expensive and are for-profit

International schools are often associated with expensive fees, where tuition money is given to shareholders and is not reinvested back into the student experience. While some international schools are for-profit establishments, there are many that are not-for-profit.

A not-for-profit international school means that all the money earned from tuition and donations is reinvested into the school to provide students with a global experience and access to enriching academic opportunities both inside of and beyond the classroom.

A significant portion of the earnings from tuition fees at international schools is used to recruit, relocate, pay and retain highly qualified and experienced staff members and teachers. This effort is especially important for the international school to maintain its high-quality standard.

There are many benefits to enrolling your child in a not-for-profit international school, one of which is the retention of experienced and passionate educators that help lead our students to achieving their goals. Learn more about how your children can benefit from not-for-profit education.


4. International schools celebrate exclusivity and are not rooted in local culture

International schools are filled with students from all over the world and can represent dozens of different nationalities. Diversity is a vital component in establishing the global environment in an international school so it’s important to seek out an international school that embraces its host country, language, culture, and people.

International schools maintain this globally-minded environment to nurture and support students to foster their growth as global citizens at an early age.

Students witness multiple languages and cultures through various holidays and celebrations hosted in the school to encourage students to learn more about each other and from one another.

Beyond engaging in a surface-level understanding of cultures, often referred to as the five “Fs” of cultural learning – Food, Fashion, Festivals, Famous people, and Flags – international schools embrace a deeper understanding of cultural differences and encourage students to explore the richness and diversity of any culture they encounter. This understanding is best reflected in the Cultural Iceberg model.

Students witness multiple languages and cultures through various holidays and celebrations hosted in the school

You can learn more about how an international education benefits your child’s development.


5. Attending an international school means my child can only attend an international post-secondary institution

Students who earn a diploma from an international school can still attend a college or university in Malaysia.

While an international school might better prepare a student for an international post-secondary institution, it does not bar students from choosing to attend a university in Malaysia; rather than limiting future options and opportunities, international education opens up a more extensive set of post-secondary opportunities for students, which includes staying in Malaysia.

By widening their skill set and improving their confidence, students are better prepared to choose a path they would prefer to take for their post-secondary education and subsequent career opportunities.


6. International schools are the same as any other school

This myth overlooks the many benefits that can come with international school education. International schools, much like local public schools, can offer internationally accredited programs like IBDP in addition to access to improved resources like high-quality teachers and specialized classrooms.

Many staff members of the international schools’ community, including administrative staff, is comprised of individuals from all over the world and from different walks of life, which fuels their globally-oriented influence and school environment.

International schools often tend to maintain a smaller enrollment population than government schools to keep the student numbers in the classroom to a minimum so that all the students receive substantial attention and support from their teachers.

Students are provided with the opportunity to pursue passions outside the classroom, like partaking in a sport or other extracurricular activities, allowing them to develop holistically.

With access to an internationally recognized curriculum, a global environment, quality facilities and highly qualified teachers, students gain access to a world of opportunities related to post-secondary education and their careers.

Download the free checklist: Key Questions Every Parent Should Ask a Prospective School.


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