School Guide

Understanding the Types of Curriculum

Published by SchoolAdvisor | Apr 11, 2018

What sets international schools apart from public or private schools in Malaysia is the academic curriculum used. International schools will likely follow a curriculum that’s different from that of the host country. There are over a hundred international schools in Malaysia, and each offers different curricula to suit students’ needs.

Deciding on one school can take a lot of time and be rather stressful. With so many options to choose from, it is understandable if you don’t know where to even begin. What exactly does each curriculum have to offer that’s different from the others?

Never fear! We at have compiled a comprehensive list to help you understand each curriculum in detail and find out about the most sought-after schools in Malaysia.

Primary Level

1. Primary Years Programme (ages 3 – 12)

Primary Years ProgrammeThe Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a component of the International Baccalaureate (IB) intended for primary school students. In the PYP, students learn how to take control of their learning, collaborating with teachers to deepen their learning, increase confidence and develop self-motivation.

Following the PYP, students will move on to the Middle Years Programme (MYP) at the age of 12 before pursuing the IB Diploma programme.

Examples: IGB International School, Fairview International School

2. International Primary Curriculum (ages 5 – 11)

International Primary CurriculumThe International Primary Curriculum (IPC), offered by Cambridge, is a stepping stone for primary school students to advance to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) at the secondary level. It is a goal-oriented curriculum that focuses on three main aspects: students’ subject goals, personal goals and international learning goals.

More often than not, select international schools in Malaysia integrate the teachings of the IPC and English national curriculum as they have many similarities and combined benefits.

Examples: Sri Kuala Lumpur International School (Sri KL), Tenby International School, UCSI International School

3. English national curriculum (ages 5 – 16)

English National CurriculumInternational schools that utilise this curriculum follow the same curriculum implemented in schools across the United Kingdom. Its emphasis is on teaching students to learn by questioning, problem-solving, and critical and creative thinking instead of the mere retention of facts. This provides them with valuable analytical and critical thinking skills that they will need in the working world.

Many international schools in Malaysia integrate the teachings of the IPC and English national curriculum as they have many similarities and combined benefits.

Examples: Alice Smith School, British International School of Kuala Lumpur (BSKL), HELP International School,  elc International School

4. American curriculum (ages 5 – 17)

American CurriculumUnlike the British curriculum, there is no ‘national’ or standardised curriculum in the United States. Thus, international schools in Malaysia that use the American curriculum often follow the more broadly based subject approach of IB programmes, such as the PYP at the elementary level, the MYP at the middle school level and IB Diploma Programme at the high school level.

There are also some common principles across the US education system, such as encouraging students to make defining choices at younger ages.

Examples: Raffles American School, The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL), Mont’Kiara International School, Oasis International School Kuala Lumpur (OISKL)

5. National curricula of other countries

National CurriculumThere are several international schools throughout Malaysia that use the national curriculum from other countries. Examples include:

For a full list of alternative curriculum offered in Malaysian international schools. Check link.

Secondary Level

1. IGCSE (ages 14 – 17)

Cambridge International ExaminationIGCSE was developed by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) as an international equivalent of the O-Level or GCSE in the UK. The IGCSE is a follow-up to the ICP or the English national curriculum at primary level.

The IGCSE curriculum in Malaysia typically prepares you for the stage after secondary school, which is enrolling in a pre-university programme such as A-Levels or the IB Diploma.

Examples: Garden International School, UCSI International School

2. International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (ages 16 – 19)

IB Diploma ProgrammeThe IB Diploma programme aims to develop well-rounded, self-motivated and goal-driven students who not only focus on academics but also venture into projects beyond the classroom. Students ruminate on the nature of knowledge, fulfil independent research and take on a project that typically involves community service.

The IB Diploma is generally accepted for university entrance in many countries including the UK, the US and various private universities across Malaysia.

Examples: Cempaka International School, Fairview International School, The International School Kuala Lumpur