5 Things You MUST Consider When You Send Your Kid To An International School
One of the most important questions a parent can ask is how to educate their child.
In Malaysia, the basic choice of whether to send their child to a public or an international school has become somewhat of a national dilemma for many parents.
Over the years, flip flops in the national schooling system in deciding whether Science and Math should be taught in English, and lower-than-average national scores in worldwide quality assessment programmes among Malaysian schoolchildren have prompted many parents to opt for the international-school route.
However, this isn’t to say that public school education does not have its merits – it has after all, produced world-class leaders that include our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak and telecommunications magnate Ananda Krishnan, who is Malaysia’s second richest man.
Most public schools do have the basic facilities required for education and they are free, courtesy of the government.
However, students who attend international schools are often given greater access to teachers, and are exposed to a richer, more diversified and a generally more rounded learning environment that often presents better prospects in adulthood.
The obvious trade-off is that international school education also costs a fortune, and we’re talking AT LEAST RM1 million and up from pre-reception to Grade 12!
But parents being parents will always want the best for their children, and if international school education is a move you are considering, here’s what you need to know and do to prepare.
1) How much does it really cost?
We already know that tuition fees at these institutions are no joke and parents can expect to fork out about RM80,000 per annum (depending on the school and the location) just to put their child through elementary education at an international school.
So if you do decide that international school education is the best choice for your child, you must be willing and able to take on a significant expense for a good number of years without compromising your other financial goals, such as retirement.
Remember, just like everything else, fees for private and international schools increases through the years. According to a report by iMoney, a parent who sends her three children to an international school, said school fees have been increasing since 2015 and is expecting a 5% to 10% increment from year-to-year.
You might even have to make sacrifices, such as moving to a smaller home or not going on as many vacations, although for an increasing number of Malaysian parents, these sacrifices are well worth it if it means being able to afford higher quality education for their kids.
According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Education, a number of 20,000 students were enrolled in international schools in 2013, compared to 15,000 in 2012.
2) Plan early
For many parents, international school education is a huge commitment and a massive expense, so it goes without saying that the sooner you start planning, the better.
For instance, admission at an international school alone could cost parents an additional RM50,000 and above for miscellaneous charges, which include application, assessment and registration fees, and this is an amount you will likely need to fork out upfront.
Also, it is not uncommon of schools to require some form of financial commitment, such as an acceptance deposit, so it will be wise to start planning from as early as possible, possibly even as soon as he or she is born.
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3) Consider the extras
Paying for an international school education entails so much more than just tuition fees.
For starters, you will need to get school uniforms for your child, and these will often have to be specially-tailored or can only be purchased with the school.
You also need to consider sports fees, school trips, enrichment classes and extracurricular activities that will likely cost several times more than in public schools.
4) Think about future children
Some parents are quick to make the decision to send their first child to an international school, and then comes child number two and three, and suddenly, they are stuck.
To avoid winding up in this scenario, proper family planning and budgeting is imperative so you do not find yourself in a tight spot in the future.
With the rising cost of living, it is never too early to start budgeting for your child, from aspects ranging from daily expenses to planning for their university education, so you can be financially prepared.
5) Compare discount rates
We already know that international school education costs a bomb, which makes it all the more important for parents to find ways to save a few bucks on school fees. To this end, parents will first have to do some digging around to find and compare the special rates and discounts that are being offered by these schools.
For example, Mont’Kiara International School and IGB International School both offer “siblings or family discount” rates.
With the discount, families enrolling more than two children in these schools will receive a 5% discount on tuition fees for the second sibling, and 10% for the third sibling.
Finally, remember to not overextend yourself if you simply cannot afford to put your child through an international school without going into debt or compromising other important financial goals.
While attending an international school can give your child a kick start in life, it doesn’t guarantee a successful life.
One way that you can manage your fund better is to consider transitioning your child to an international school later on, such as in their high school years so you do not have to spend as much. Sending your child for tuition classes is another good alternative that will not break your bank.
Whatever your options, make sure you pick one that is both practical and sustainable for you and your child(ren) in the larger scheme of things.