By Natalie Wilkie
With a renewed focus on the international schools market, the Malaysian government has offered new initiatives for school development, as part of a recent review of the country’s Economic Transformation Programme. These are set to include two joint enterprises, Public Private Partnerships and Foreign Branch Campuses, which have previously been adopted by Epsom College and Marlborough College Malaysia. Significant tax incentives, including a five year 70% income tax exemption, are also being offered to schools and organisations that establish new international schools in the country.
As part of its aim to become a high-income nation by 2020, the Malaysian government listed education as one of 12 national key areas of Malaysia’s economic transformation programme. The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) said they were “focusing on nurturing the skills and competitiveness of the critical mass of the workforce, and safeguarding the nation’s future by developing the minds, talents and capabilities of its next generation”.
The government made the decision to expand Malaysia’s international schools market in order to respond to the growing schooling needs of expatriates, meet the demands of repatriating Malaysians, retain Malaysians who would otherwise consider international options for schooling and attract parents from other countries to choose Malaysia as a school destination for their children. The new developments will also provide Malaysian families with an increased choice of schools, having lifted a 40% cap on the number of Malaysian students able to enroll at international schools in 2012.
A recent development already implemented by the Malaysian government is the Kuala Lumpur Education City, of which Epsom College is already a part. This provides internationally-oriented education for all ages including tertiary education, within one educational hub. A second hub currently in development is EduCity in Iskandar, which will open in September 2014 as Epsom College’s first overseas campus.
The International School Consultancy Group predicts that all of Malaysia’s international schools – including new schools – will see increasing enrolment of both expatriate and local students over forthcoming years. A number of schools in the country are aiming for a 50:50 ratio of local and expatriate children, by combining local culture and internationally orientated learning.