A TREND: Established private education institutions are moving downstream and some even upstream to include all levels of education under one banner
HOLISTIC education has a different interpretation these days as more and more private institutions opt to provide a seamless education from preschool to pre-university under the same banner.
The HELP Education Group started off as a tertiary institution and has established itself as such for close to three decades now.
The recent launch of the HELP International School bears testimony to the group’s philosophy of developing all-rounders.
It adopts the British curriculum, catering to preschoolers until they reach A Levels.
For Preschool (4 to 6 years), the focus is on developing Early Literacy Skills, Motor Coordination, Thinking Skills, Positive Self-Concept and Independence; Primary (6-12) presents an innovative curriculum that imparts skills to pupils to extend their learning independently; the Lower Secondary curriculum teaches students a broad range of 14 subjects and inculcates skills that include the creative, linguistic, mathematical, scientific and technological; the Upper Secondary is using the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) curricula and the A Levels: the Cambridge International Examinations provide an excellent preparation for university education.
The school principal Dr Gerard Louis says the idea of moving downstream from being involved in tertiary education over the last 27 years was to address education needs and change the education landscape in the country.
Students learn best by getting hands-on.
The motto “Vita ad plenitudinem”, which means “Life in all its fullness”, captures the educational aspirations of the school.
“As educators and as parents, we want our children to live full lives, enjoying all the opportunities that our world has to offer,” says Louis.
The curriculum reflects its philosophy of nurturing all-rounders. Academically, HELP promises to provide students with a first-class education and has produced world-class scholars who have secured places at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Princeton.
Deputy principal Davina McCarthy says children who go to great universities such as Oxbridge achieve more than good grades.
“They possess character, a point of view and a unique way of seeing the world and strong leadership qualities, and all that starts from working in groups in school,” adds McCarthy.
The children are coached to learn one new sport annually to ensure physical fitness and they further flex their creative muscles in design and technology labs as well as in the performing arts.
“The most important part of the school is its teachers and so the utmost care has been taken to recruit experienced and passionate, and I am proud of our dream team of teachers,” adds Louis.
A range of activities makes for a rich, vibrant school life.
Also in this league is Nilai International School, one of the largest international schools in the country, run by a subsidiary owned by Nilai Resources Group Sdn Bhd which also manages the internationally recognised Nilai University.
The school conducts the British curriculum at both its primary (ages 5-11) and secondary schools (ages 12-16), leading up to the Cambridge examinations.
Students take part in co-curricular activities which are central to a holistic education.
The school is also the only international school in Malaysia and Southeast Asia with an education support unit for students with Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism. The unit collaborates with Western Autistic School in Melbourne, Australia.
“We have a good student-teacher ratio in a multi-cultural environment and staff comprising expatriate and Malaysian teachers.
“There is emphasis on student participation and feedback from teachers who communicate with parents on children’s progress in school,” says acting principal Ronald Franke on reasons for the school’s popularity among parents.
As to what makes the school special, Franke says Nilai is a peaceful yet strategic location, 35 minutes from Kuala Lumpur and 15 minutes from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
“It is also not located in a shophouse or a makeshift structure. We have full boarding facilities on a purpose-built campus with 24-hour security, and yet it is affordable,” he adds.
An old player in this scene is Taylor’s Education Group, one of the country’s oldest private education institutions.
Taylor’s Schools have the largest and most successful international schools in the country catering to early childhood up to Form 6 while Taylor’s College has been a centre of excellence in pre-university studies since 1969.
Under Taylor’s Schools, there are Garden International School; Australian International School Malaysia; Nexus International School, Putrajaya; Nexus International School, Singapore; Taylor’s International School ; and Quantum Education Sdn Bhd. Taylor’s University’s comprehensive range of studies completes the tertiary chapter.
One institution that is more than just a standalone school is Beaconhouse Malaysia. Established in 2004, it is the first Beaconhouse institution outside its home country of Pakistan.
There are seven pre-schools, three private primary and secondary schools, as well as two international schools under Beaconhouse Malaysia’s stable of education
Beaconhouse Southeast Asia director Zarina Mobarak says that the institution owes its popularity to quality education.
“The constantly changing educational policies make parents nervous and unsure of where to send their children, so private education is an option.
“Malaysian parents navigating the Beaconhouse Malaysia website will find that it offers a curriculum that develops students’ critical thinking and inquiry skills while fostering a balance between academics and co-curricular activities.
“Our highly qualified faculty is devoted to assisting and challenging students to do their best. Our students enjoy a wide range of co-curricular, athletic, artistic and leadership opportunities that make for a rich, vibrant school life,” adds Zarina.
Beaconhouse Malaysia offers the national curriculum programmes in Bahasa Malaysia closely supported by English at the private primary and secondary schools to prepare students for national-level assessment such as Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.
The Cambridge Curriculum offered at the international schools prepare students for Cambridge International Examination Programmes.
Another established name is the Alice Smith School, which has a primary school catering to preschoolers up to Year 6 pupils while its secondary school continues from Year 7 to 13 (Form 1 to Form 6).
The school has many strengths — a feeling of community, a sense of tradition, its vibrancy, the professionalism and commitment of quality teachers, high academic expectations and standards, development of personal qualities in students, the importance placed on citizenship and the expansive broad curriculum on offer, among them.
R.S. KAMINI, SHARIFAH ARFAH AND P. SHARMINI | firstname.lastname@example.org NST Channels Learning-curve 19/01/2014