Published by SchoolAdvisor on Oct 07, 2019, 08:18 AM
Team SchoolAdvisor has started visiting schools to bring you first-hand information about private and international schools in Malaysia. The first school we visited was Mont’ Kiara International School, which is one of the very few American IB schools in Malaysia. We had a chat with Darren Brews, the Director of Marketing & Communications at M’KIS and Janelle Schmidt, the Middle/High School Learning Support Teacher.
Here is everything you need to know about the school, along with our very own editorial review of the school.
What team SA thinks - Situated in the quiet neighbourhood of Mont’ Kiara, it is an ideal location for a school. The surrounding is quiet but comes with all kinds of facilities such as shopping malls, clinics and coffee shops. There are also residential complexes around the school, making it easier for parents, especially expats, to find a place to stay near the school.
About the school
The school has a very close-knit community feeling and according to Janelle, every teacher knows every student by name, even if that student doesn’t have any classes with that teacher.
“It is common for me, for all of us, to reach out to students if we find them upset, in the corridors or in the classroom. It is a very caring and nurturing environment, like a family, where everyone takes care of everyone,” elucidates Janelle.
Darren adds, “The students are very disciplined and polite too, which is why bullying has never been a problem in this school. The teacher-student ratio is low, making it easier to form bonds with each other.”
What team SA thinks – The school has a cap on nationalities, making it one of the very few ‘true’ international schools in Malaysia that fosters diversity. There are students from about 55 nationalities in the school at present and because of the close-knit environment of the school, we believe the students of this school will grow up to be true global citizens transcending cultural, language and religious barriers.
M’KIS is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), U.S.A and authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. They have recently been given IB Primary Years Program affiliation and are on their way to getting IB Middle Years Program affiliation as well.
Answering why M’KIS chose to follow IB, Janelle says, “IB is a curriculum that helps develop students’ thinking and analytical skills. It is not structured and hence has a lot of space to nurture creative thinking and research. M’KIS anyway had an inquiry-based approach to teaching so the transition to IB curriculum was relatively easy.”
Darren adds, “It is a curriculum that is recognised the world over and hence makes easier for parents who move around a lot to find schools for their children.”
What team SA thinks – IB is a curriculum that is slowly yet surely taking the world by storm because of its flexible approach to education. Yes, it is not an easy curriculum to follow, because unlike structured curriculums, students need to really go deep with research and analysis. However, seeing how the world is rapidly changing, asking the right questions and finding answers yourself - as is taught in IB - is one skill set that will be most in-demand in the near future.
Darren explains, “Parents can come for a school visit anytime and then fill in an application form with all the required documents. Then the students need to go through assessment tests that measure their reading, language and numerical skills. The final step is an interview with the school councillor.”
The whole process is being transferred online such that parents can apply online and also track their application progress continuously.
Parents can also choose to visit the school on the open day, which is on October 15 this year, whereby not only is the application fee waived completely, but they can actually see the classes in action.
What team SA thinks – The admission process is pretty straightforward and lets both the school as well as the student understand where the student stands in terms of academics. School tours are done one-to-one, meaning each parent is assigned to a school staff who dedicatedly shows them around. It is also noteworthy that there is a cap on the intake of students who are weak in English such that the English Language Learning support teachers can provide the much-needed attention to students who need it.
“The school offers numerous extra-curricular activities, from sports to music to drama,” says both Janelle and Darren.
Some activities such as swimming and wall climbing are part of physical exercise classes, but outside of that there are also clubs that students can be part of.
What team SA thinks – Did you know that the alumni of M’KIS include successful people from all walks of life, including professors in international universities to sportspeople to musicians? It goes to show that M’KIS gives equal emphasis on academics and extra-curricular to bring up real allrounders. With so many activities offered, we believe it will also balance out technology exposure with playing outdoors.
The school has recently implemented robotics into their academics and has state-of-art facilities to aid learning. Older students are required to have their own laptops and bring it to class while younger students are given tabs for studying in class.
However, Janelle also mentions that M’KIS strives to keep a balance between technology usage with time away from the screen, and hence the school restricts using smartphones or smartwatches in between classes or in corridors.
“It is a little lenient for older, secondary students, but for younger students, if we find them using mobile phones in corridors, we immediately confiscate it and if this is repeated thrice, we call parents,” Janelle elaborates.
There are also playgrounds for students to run around during recess, swimming pool, basketball court, walls for wall climbing, play area for pre-schoolers and music rooms among the other facilities.
What team SA thinks – Using technology is unavoidable, but it is imperative to keep a balance. And it looks like M’KIS with its numerous extra-curricular activities for students and no mobile, smartwatch usage rule is trying its best to strike that balance.
Darren accepts that the tuition fee at M’KIS is high, but he justifies, “There are very few well qualified IB teachers and we employ only the best. Then again, parents make the mistake of only looking at tuition fees, if you calculate everything from registration fees, technology fees, family registration fees and whatnot, M’KIS is actually cheaper than some of the other tier 1 international schools.”
What team SA thinks – Parents can save on registration fee if they choose to send their children to M’KIS from pre-school because firstly, the school doesn’t require any ‘top-ups’ on the registration fee and secondly the difference between the registration fee for pre-school and high school is huge (read RM3500 – RM27000).
M’KIS also waives the registration fee for students who are transferring from reputed and affiliated international schools in Malaysia.
Team SA verdict
M’KIS is a school ideal for students who thrive in a close-knit nurturing environment that focuses on the holistic development of children through an inquiry-based learning approach. As parents, we suggest that you take a tour of the school first before deciding since only you would know what is best for your children.
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