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Monday, January 13, 2020

4 types of international school curriculums in Malaysia

International school curriculums are designed to produce global citizens. (Rawpixel pic)
There are around 150 international schools in Malaysia offering a wide variety of curriculums, from Australian, British, Canadian, Indian and French to American.
Each different curriculum has its own strengths and as parents look to provide the best education for their children, it can become overwhelming to make the right choice.
To make it easier, here are brief descriptions of some of the most common international curriculums offered here in Malaysia:
1. British curriculum
Also known as English National Curriculum, British curriculum is well known and respected because it not only focuses on academics but on the holistic development of a child.
Students are encouraged to solve problems and enhance their critical thinking by going outside and pursuing extra-curricular activities, rather than just sitting indoors with their noses buried in books.
The class years are divided into Foundation Stage (ages three to five), Primary education (ages five to 11) and Secondary education (ages 11 to 18) leading most typically to an A Level qualification.
The entire education journey starting from foundation to secondary is divided into key stages and at the end of each year, the students in key stages one, two and three will undergo examination in all subjects as per the National Curriculum.
Whereas, key stage four students will follow the IGCSE programme and students at the end of key stage five will usually sit for the A Level exams.
2. International Baccalaureate
Entering its 52nd year after being founded in Switzerland, the International Baccalaureate offers three education programmes, namely – International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP), International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) and International Baccalaureate Degree Programme (IBDP)/Career-Related Programme (CP).
IBPYP teaches skills like independence, respect, teamwork through transdisciplinary themes that help students aged three to 12 transition to the next stage, which is IBMYP.
The next stage, which is IBMYP is designed for middle-level students aged 11-16 and is created to help learners understand different subject groups by using contextual learning.
Students who complete this stage will have the skills to continue forward to IB’s pre-university programmes which are IBDP and Career-Related Programme (CP).
Both these programmes are made for students aged 16-19 but CP, as the name suggests, is more suited for learners who are keen on pursuing an individualized pathway leading to apprenticeships, employment or further education.
IB has a reputation of being difficult but the fact is that it teaches students crucial life skills like time management, critical thinking and problem solving.
International schools offer different curriculums for different needs. (Rawpixel pic)
3. American curriculum
Recognised by reputed universities worldwide, the American curriculum offers a wide range of courses starting from Kindergarten to 12th grade, more popularly known as K-12.
It is broken down into three stages; elementary school, which is kindergarten to fifth grade typically consisting of four to 11 year olds, middle school ranging from sixth to eight grade for learners 11 to 14 years old and high school stretching from ninth till 12th grade for learners of 14 to 18 years age.
English language, arts, mathematics, science and social studies are the core subjects for each level, but students are also exposed to arts, foreign languages and technology.
The learning methodology is that teachers will observe their students while the class is ongoing and mark their progress though assignments, group projects, quizzes and class discussions.
4. Australian curriculum
The national curriculum of Australia is governed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).
It covers Foundation until Year 12, divided into F-10 (Foundation till Year 10) and senior secondary (Year 11 and Year 12).
F-10 focuses on eight key learning areas, namely English, Mathematics, Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, Health and Physical Education, Languages, Technologies and the Arts.
It also focuses on the seven general capabilities, including literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology capability, critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, intercultural understanding, and ethical understanding.
Secondary school students who successfully complete senior high school will obtain Higher School Certificate (HSC).
What makes this curriculum different is that it sets expectations for all students, regardless of where they are from or their background, in ways that suits the students’ requirements and interests.
When choosing a curriculum, it is best to prioritise your child’s passion and find one that helps nurture it.
For instance, a child who is curious, asks a lot of questions and loves experimenting would probably thrive by pursuing IB, whereas a child who is more into academics and structured learning might do better with IGCSE.
As changing from one curriculum to another in between the school year can be stressful and draining for students as well as parents, researching before committing is crucial.
School Advisor provides information on private and international schools, extra-curricular activities as well as other education-related topics in Malaysia. - FMT

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