- Download our Moving to Kuala Lumpur Guide (PDF)
The quality of education in Kuala Lumpur is generally high and expat parents should not struggle to find a suitable school for their children. Most expat parents opt for international schools, preferring a familiar curriculum taught in the family's home language.
Public schools in Kuala Lumpur
Public schools are free of charge for Malaysian residents. The quality of education varies but is generally considered to be adequate. Expats should note that in public schools, teaching is in Malay, Tamil or Cantonese. Unless the family already speaks one of these languages, or the expat child is young enough to still pick it up easily, this is a deal-breaker for most expats, who rather opt to send their children to a private or international school instead. Bureaucratic obstacles can also play a role in this decision.
Private and international schools in Kuala Lumpur
There is a broad range of private and international schools in Kuala Lumpur catering to the diverse population of expats that call the city home.
International schools mostly follow the American, British, Australian or International Baccalaureate curricula. Private schools in Malaysia follow the Malaysian curriculum and have English as the language of instruction. Many private schools also offer faith-based learning.
Expats should consider a number of factors when choosing a school in Kuala Lumpur. Education at both private and international schools comes at a high price and parents should factor these costs into any negotiations for their relocation package. Additionally, top schools may have waiting lists, so it’s best to begin the enrolment process as early as possible.
The location of a school is also a vital factor to consider, as traffic in Kuala Lumpur can lengthen commute time considerably. Most private and international schools will have a bus service available to students, depending on where they live.
Special needs education in Kuala Lumpur
While the government has a long way to go in terms of making adequate resources available for special needs students, there have been moves towards a more inclusive education system. The majority of Malaysia's special needs students attend a Special Education Integrated Programme (SEIP) in a mainstream school, which offers extra support and makes necessary adaptations for the student. In cases where this isn't sufficient, children can attend a dedicated special education school.
If possible, we recommend that parents with special needs children send them to a private or international school with a special needs department. Here, the extra resources available give special needs students a better chance at getting the necessary support, especially as classes are typically smaller with more individual attention given to each student.
Tutors in Kuala Lumpur
For local and expat parents alike, tutors can be an incredibly useful resource. Whether a child needs a little extra help in a difficult subject, is adjusting to a new curriculum or is learning a new language, hiring a tutor can go a long way in easing the process. Good tutoring companies operating in Kuala Lumpur include Tuteroo and MyPrivateTutor.
"Over 300 international schools in Malaysia, but that's a very loose term! The best are Alice Smith, Gardens International School, BSKL, ISKL and MKIS (US system), ISP, St Josephs, Nexus. Other second-tier but good ones include ELC, GEMS, Fairview, HELP, Sri KDU." British expat Benjamin shares his experience as an expat living in Kuala Lumpur.
►Education and Schools in Malaysia gives a general overview of the schooling system in the country
►Learn more about Malaysia's healthcare system in Healthcare in Malaysia
Are you an expat living in Kuala Lumpur?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Kuala Lumpur. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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