School Guide

The Differences Between Public Schools and Private Schools

Published by SchoolAdvisor | Feb 17, 2021

The public vs private school debate can go on for eternity. Both institutions are significant in their respective fields and continue to successfully produce future champions of Malaysia. Many feel that private schools are better than public schools, but is that true?

public school vs private school

The main difference between public schools and private schools stems from their funding and administration.

As the names imply, public schools are administered and funded by the state or national government whereas private schools are funded wholly or partly by students’ tuition and administered by a private body.

To a large extent, private schools are independent from the interference of the public. Based on these two major differences, there are also other significant differences between public schools and private schools.

What is a public school?

public school in malaysia

Image via Malay Mail Online

Public schools are primary or secondary schools offered to all children with low school fees. They are funded and controlled by the state or national government, which means they are wholly or partly funded by taxation.


The curriculum of public schools is decided at state or national levels—that is, primary schools follow the framework of Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah (KSSR) while secondary schools adhere to the Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Menengah (KSSM) design.

Admission to public schools is determined by the address of the student. The schools are obliged to take in students who belong to their respective geographical zone.

Although technology and other facilities vary according to schools, public schools generally have fewer facilities than private schools.

The number of students in a class may sometimes be drastically high due to lack of facilities or resources.


It is important to note that public schools always hire highly qualified teachers where they must meet all state-mandated requirements and be proficient in their specialised subject.

What is a private school?

Tenby private school Penang

Image via Tenby Schools Penang

A private school is controlled by a private body and funded by students’ tuition. The fees are usually higher in private schools to accommodate better facilities and up-to-date technology.

Although private schools follow the same curriculum decided by the government, the method of delivery varies in that it is decided by the school board.

The fees and admission of students in private schools are regulated by the administration. The school has the authority to decide whether a student meets the requirements for admission or not.

Following that, the school administrators are in control of the recruitment of teachers in which the requirements needed to be a teacher depends wholly on the school.

The size of a classroom in a private school is also smaller than that of a public school. This is mainly due to the availability of resources and facilities. Check schooladvisor website for list of all International Schools in Malaysia and their fees, curriculum and admission process.

Differences between Public Schools and Private Schools

Public SchoolsPrivate Schools
Administered and funded by the state or national government.funded wholly or partly by students' tuition and administered by a private body.
Few functioning facilities.Many well maintained facilities.
High number of students in a classroom.Low number of students in a classroom.

Find out how to enroll in public, private and international schools:

Applying to International and Private Schools

See also:

5 Reasons to Choose Private Schools

Questions to ask when considering a private school

15 Private Schools in Selangor & Kuala Lumpur

Dual Language Programme in National Schools 

Understanding the Types of Curriculum