May 02, 2017
No stranger to speaking her mind, Margaret Kaloo, the principal and director of elc International School has plenty to say when it comes to education.
Rightly so, considering that teaching and the care of students is a vocation — the tenacity, endurance and passion required for the long haul is not something to be taken half-heartedly. After more than 3 decades, Kaloo’s undeniable zeal for imparting exceptional education and equal opportunities to all children has kept elc International School a forerunner.
In this exclusive School Advisor interview, Mrs Kaloo discusses how elc began, the importance of a 21st century education framework and the quality of education at elc international school.
The humble beginnings of elc International School
elc International School started life as elc Secondary School in 1987 with 5 students and 6 teachers The school was formed to provide a legitimate vehicle to privately educate a small group of children, 3 of whom were the children of the founders themselves — Dr & Mrs Kaloo and Dr & Mrs Ghazalli.
elc was never intended to be an international school, says Mrs Kaloo. “I just wanted to prepare my kids for an overseas education”. At that point there were only 6 international schools in Malaysia. “But after we started, more and more parents started coming up to me, asking me to take in their children as well”.
Mrs Margaret Kaloo is a strong believer of the the importance of English for a brighter future.
The founders then got a shoplot in Taman Tun Dr Ismail and started building the school from the ground up. “It wasn’t easy but we soldiered on with each batch of students”. Even with its growth and development over the years, elc has proudly remained true to its founding principles.
For more than 25 years, elc’s traditional approach to teaching, learning and character building has brought out the best in the school’s students, in and out of the classroom.
Unlike the many international schools now dotting the Malaysian education landscape, elc is a school that is small by design. Mrs Kaloo firmly believes that it is not important for a school to have gleaming and plush facilities. “A school cannot buy its spirit as it buys textbooks, neither can it have this spirit supplied as basic equipment nor through its facilities. A school spirit is built within the walls of the school itself.”
Mrs Kaloo with her husband, Dr. Umasuthan Kaloo, one of elc’s founders
While every school wants parents to be engaged with what is going on in their children’s education, what matters more is the nature of that engagement, says Mrs Kaloo.
Over the years, elc has had its fair share of parents asking penetrating questions about the school’s practices. elc looks into all feedback and seeks to further understand whether any change will benefit all children in the long run and if it does, the school will adopt the change.
However, the school is firm in its ethos and its style of teaching, which has been proven with its impressive track record not just in examination results but in the successful adults who call the school their alma mater.
Today’s education framework
In order to educate in the 21st century, teachers and administrators need to cultivate and maintain the student’s interest in the material by showing how this knowledge applies in the real world. They must also try to increase student curiosity, which will help them become lifelong learners.
elc places great value on creating responsible, well adjusted, committed and caring young people
elc practices models of inclusive education – an environment in which every student is given the same opportunity to flourish. Also, at the forefront of the school’s teachings is the understanding that no two students share the same level of intelligence and the weaker student will not be left behind. Instead, elc teachers consider a wide range of learning modalities (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) in designing instruction and all students will be encouraged at their level.
Similarly, Mrs Kaloo believes elc’s purpose is to guide students in the school in the right direction so that they grow into people who are strong and compassionate and capable of success in a diverse world. This is where discipline comes into the picture, something that is looked upon seriously by Mrs Kaloo. She stresses that the school takes great pride in inculcating excellent work ethic in students and they understand that there are no shortcuts in achieving their goals.
An International education
When asked why more parents are opting for international schools, her answer was simple, ‘the importance of English’. Parents are cognizant of the fact that for future generations of Malaysian children to have a place on the worldstage and be able to compete in the global market, they need an excellent grasp of English.
elc provides an environment which is not only conducive to learning and character building, but where students are prepared for the responsibilities, opportunities and challenges of adulthood.
However, the high cost of sending a child to an international school has always been a worry, but elc believes that for education to be good it doesn’t have to be expensive. Mrs Kaloo thinks it’s important for international school fees to be reasonable for good education to be accessible to people from all walks of life, and not just the elite.
Since its establishment in 1987, elc had held firm to the believe that education is about educating every child to their best ability, regardless of race, religion or the profession of their parents. “Educating the next generation is not about making a profit. It should be from schools like elc to provide equal opportunity to every child, to be the future leaders of Malaysia”.
Mrs Kaloo hopes that elc will continue doing a fine job of “igniting young minds” and bringing out the best in all students, past and present. “The one thing that has kept me going after all these years is definitely the students that come back to thank us, years after graduating from elc. Seeing that we had a part in producing that successful and decent human being makes it all worthwhile”.