Studying At Private Schools


The private sector plays an important role in pre-tertiary education. There are many private schools set up by the private sector especially in urban areas and these schools offer pre-school, primary and secondary education for a fee. Some even offer post-secondary education. Private education is well-rooted in the Malaysian education system and the history of private education in Malaysia can be traced way back to the 1950s.

In its effort to democratise education, the government has encouraged more private education providers to increase the education options in the country. These providers help to contribute towards making Malaysia a centre of educational excellence for pre-tertiary education.

Private schools are required to abide by Malaysia's education law by following the Malaysian curriculum. Therefore, these private schools have to use the National Pre-school Curriculum for pre-school education and the National Curriculum for primary and secondary education, as required by the Education Act 1996. These do not include foreign system schools.

Private schools are open to both local and international students. However, in order to enrol international students, the schools need to obtain a license from the Ministry of Home Affairs. Besides day school, some private schools also offer full residential facilities for students.

All private schools need to obtain the approval of the Ministry of Education, through its Private Education Division before they are allowed to operate and recruit students. However, only schools that are licensed by the Ministry of Home Affairs are allowed to take in international student.

Study Opportunities

There are many types of private schools in Malaysia with some offering boarding or full-residential facilities. The following section elaborates on the study opportunities available at private schools in Malaysia.

Kindergartens / Pre-schools (covering a period of one to two years)
Private pre-schools or kindergartens are designed for children between the age of four and six for an education period of one to three years. There are many private pre-school centres in Malaysia, particularly in the urban areas. They offer a range of early childhood programmes at a fee. These programmes are designed to meet the diverse needs of young children during the most crucial years of their life. Pre-school education is part of the National Education System, and the roles of operators in early childhood education are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. All kindergartens are required to follow the National Pre-school Curriculum introduced by the government.

Many private kindergartens implement their own curriculum following tested and well-conceived early childhood learning methodologies. However, these curricula may only be applied in addition to the National Pre-school Curriculum.

Besides stand-alone establishments, many private kindergartens are part of a chain using a franchise approach, or part of more prominent private higher education institutions offering pre-school, primary and secondary schooling.

Primary Schooling (covering a period of five to seven years)
Private primary schools in Malaysia offer either primary schooling only (Standard One to Standard Six) or they may be part a larger institution that offers both primary and secondary schooling to the more affluent segment of the Malaysian society.

(b) The Ministry of Education (MOE) has formulated a curriculum, namely the National Curriculum, that all schools (irrespective of private or public) registered under the Education Act 1996 are mandated to adopt. Besides the National Curriculum, private schools offer similar core subjects as national schools and prepare students for the same public common examination i.e. Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah UPSR. Through its Private Education Division, MOE also implements strict guidelines on the registration and operation of all private schools to ensure that quality education is offered by private education providers. To date, there are around 58 private primary schools in Malaysia.

Private primary schools have longer study hours and smaller classes; and more attention is given to the students. It also offers extensive facilities, a wider usage of ICT for students, regular reports for parents by the school's management and teachers, and greater emphasis on the English language, even though these schools follow the same national curriculum (KBSR). To gain entry to a private school, a student usually has to undergo an assessment and interview.

Secondary Schooling (covering a period of five to seven years)
There are approximately 76 private secondary schools in Malaysia. They follow the national curriculum and are governed by the Education Act 1996.

These schools offer:

  • Lower secondary education from age 13 (covering a period of three years) from Form One to Form Three
  • Upper secondary education from age 16 (covering a period of two years) from Form Four to Form Five, where students can select one of the specialised fields of study in either the Arts or Science stream.

The curriculum adopted is the Integrated Curriculum for Secondary Schools (KBSM) which prepares students for two public examinations i.e. Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) at Year 9 (Form 3) and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) at Year 11 (Form 5). All these examinations are conducted by the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate (Lembaga Peperiksaan Malaysia). The medium of instruction is primarily Bahasa Melayu with Mathematics, Science and Information Communication Technology (ICT) taught in English at all levels. In July 2009, the government made a decision to revert to teaching Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Melayu in stages from 2012 onwards.

At the Form Five level, some students also sit for the IGCSE 'O' level besides taking the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination.

As with private primary schools, private secondary schools boast a lower teacher-student ratio, longer study hours, well-equipped science and computer laboratories, subject-based rooms for music, art and dance, wellstocked libraries, swimming pools, and outdoor and indoor sports courts.

Schools also provide 'customer driven' services by the school's management and regular contact with the parents by the school teachers.

Post Secondary Education
Some private schools offer post-secondary education to prepare students for admission into universities. Courses offered include the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Curriculum and Co-curricular Activities in Private Schools

Before deciding on whether to enrol your child at a private school, it is good for parents to have a better understanding of the education programmes conducted by private schools. In this section, we will look at the programmes offered by one of the biggest private schools in town, i.e. APIIT Smart School (for its primary and secondary education levels).

(A) Curriculum for Primary School Level (Standard 1 to Standard 6)
(based on APIIT Smart School's Education Programme)
The school follows the Primary School National Curriculum (KBSR). The school prepares students for the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination.

The School also develops the students in a wide range of non-UPSR examination subject areas. The primary medium of instruction is Bahasa Melayu with Mathematics and Science taught in both languages (Bahasa Melayu and English) at all levels (Standard 1 to Standard 6).

  • UPSR-Examination Subjects
    • Bahasa Melayu
    • English
    • Mathematics
    • Science
  • Non UPSR-Examination Subjects
    • Islamic Religious Education (Muslims) & Perkara Asas Fardu Ain (Muslims)
    • Moral Education (Non-Muslims)
    • Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
    • Visual Art Education
    • Civic Education (for Standards 4, 5 & 6)
    • Living Skills (for Standards 4, 5 & 6)
    • Local Studies (for Standards 4, 5 & 6)
    • Mandarin
    • Music Instrument
    • Swimming
    • Physical and Health Education
    • Martial Art Programme (Taekwondo)
    • Speech and Drama
  • Examination
    Prepare Standard 6 students for the common public examination i.e. Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) / Primary School Achievement Test.
  • School Hours
    The school hours of the primary school are as stated below:
    Monday - Thursday: 8.00am to 3.20pm
    Friday: 8.00am to 12.20pm

  • Entry Requirements
    Presently, the primary school is open to Malaysians. Students need to be aged seven and above at the current school term.

(B) Curriculum for Secondary School Level
(based on APIIT Smart School's Education Programme)

Lower Secondary School Level (Form 1 to Form 3)
The school follows the Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah (KBSM) as approved by the Ministry of Education of Malaysia and prepares students for the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination which is conducted by the Malaysian Examination Syndicate (Lembaga Peperiksaan Malaysia). The school also develops a wide range of non-PMR examined subject areas for the students. The primary medium of instruction is Bahasa Malaysia, with Mathematics and Science taught in both languages (Bahasa Melayu and English) at all levels.

PMR Examination Subjects

  • Bahasa Melayu
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • History
  • Geography
  • Living Skills
  • Islamic Religious Education (Muslims)
  • Visual Art Education

Non-examination Subjects

  • Information Communication & Technology (ICT)
  • Moral Education (Non-Muslims)
  • Physical and Health Education
  • Swimming
  • Music Instrument
  • Mandarin Communication
  • Martial Art Programme ( Taekwondo)

Upper Secondary School Level (Form 4 to Form 5) The school's curriculum is Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah (KBSM) as approved by the Ministry of Education of Malaysia which prepares students for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination which is conducted by the Malaysian Examination Syndicate (Lembaga Peperiksaan Malaysia). The medium of instruction is primarily Bahasa Melayu with Mathematics and Science-based subjects taught in both language (Bahasa Melayu and English).

Commerce Stream Subjects
Core subjects

  • Bahasa Melayu
  • English
  • Islamic Religious Education (for Muslim students) or Moral Education (for non-Muslim students)
  • Modern Mathematics
  • General Science
  • History
Elective subjects
  • Visual Art Education
  • Commerce
  • Basic Economics / Additional Mathematics
  • Principles of Accounts
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  • Mandarin (Advance)

Other compulsory subjects / activities

  • Swimming / Physical and Health Education
  • Mandarin (Communication / Intermediate)
  • Civic
  • Science Stream Subjects

Core subjects

  • Bahasa Melayu
  • English
  • Islamic Religious Education (for Muslim students) or
  • Moral Education (for non-Muslim students)
  • Modern Mathematics
  • History

Elective subjects

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology / Principal Accounts
  • Additional Mathematics
  • English for Science & Technology (EST secondary 5)
  • Mandarin (Advance)

Other compulsory subjects / activities

  • Swimming / Physical and Health Education
  • Mandarin (Communication / Intermediate)
  • Science students are required to take two science subjects and the Modern Mathematics subject or two mathematics subjects and one science subject
Minimum SPM subjects registered for the Commerce and Science streams are eight subjects.

The school follows the Malaysian National Curriculum; therefore the lower and upper secondary students are prepared for the PMR and SPM public common examinations respectively, conducted by the Malaysian Examination Syndicate.

School Hours
The secondary school hours are as follows:
Monday - Thursday: 8.00am to 3.30pm
Friday: 8.00am to 12.30pm

Entry Requirements
Enrolment into the secondary school level is currently open to residents of Malaysia as well foreigners. Students must be aged 12 and above.

(C) Co-curricular Activities
To ensure that all students not only have academic skills but also competency in sports, music, art, public speaking and other skills, all students will have access to the following as part of their learning experience:

  • Mandarin
  • Music instrument class. Students can choose to attend either piano, guitar, drums, brass and woodwind or violin lessons, all of which follow the Associated Board for the Royal School of Music (ABRSM), United Kingdom curriculum.
    • Technology as part of the school curriculum
    • Swimming as part of the school curriculum
    • Self defence as part of the school curriculum
    • Speech and drama as part of the school curriculum

    Below is a list of co-curricular and extra curricular activities at the school.

    • Co-curricular Activities
      Uniform Unit
      • Red Crescent
      • Girl Guides
      • Marching Brass band
      • Scout
      • Puteri Islam

      Sports and Games
      • Badminton
      • Cricket
      • Netball
      • Swimming
      • Taekwondo
      • Volleyball
      • Table Tennis
      • Board Games
      • Football/Futsal

      Clubs and Societies
      • Nature & Cultural
      • Language & Literacy
      • English Language Society
      • Bahasa Malaysia Society
      • Science & Mathematics Society
      • Historical & Geographical Society
      • Persatuan Pendidikan Islam
      • Art Club
      • Music Club
      • Mandarin Club
      • Robotic Club

    • Extra Curricular Activities
      • Art and craft
      • Speech and drama
      • Communicative Spanish
      • Football
      • Badminton
      • Basketball
      • Swimming
      • Music (Piano, Guitar, Classical Guitar, Violin, Drums)
      • Self Defence
      - Taekwondo
      - Fencing
      - Aikido
      • Chinese Panting
      • Chinese Calligraphy
      • Aerospace Education
      • Computer Aided Design (CAD)
      • Robotics

(D) School Facilities for Students
• Air-conditioned classrooms • Auditorium/Multi-purpose Hall • LCD projectors in the classroom • Individual student lockers • Learning Resource Center • Cafeteria • Apple Macintosh Lab • Language Lab • Science Labs (physic, chemistry and biology) • Living Skill Workshop (cookery, woodwork, mechanical electrical and sewing) • Art Studios • Speech & Drama Lab • Music Studios (piano, guitar, violin, drums and brass & woodwind)

• Sport Facilities
- Swimming Pool
- School Field
- Basketball court
- Badminton court
- Netball court
- Cricket Pitch

(E) School Technology Facilities
• Wireless broadband
• Classrooms in a wireless environment
• The Smart Card: Attendance + E-Purse
• Web-based school administrative system
• E-info Board
• E-Attendance and Class Performance Updates
• Online communication with parents
• Interactive multimedia courseware


Private schools have long existed in Malaysia and the first private school has a history of 27 years. Many private schools have developed effective teaching-learning methodologies and approaches which are able to bring the best out of the students.

Source: Schools of Malaysia Directory 3rd Ed.