What is the name of your child's school? (Please report on one school per survey.)
Mutiara International Grammar School
In what town or city is this school located?
How would you describe this school? (i.e. American, British, International, Local, etc.)
Malaysian, following British curriculum
What grade levels are represented at this school?
Age 5 to 16
How do most children get to school everyday? (bus, train, walk, etc.)
How would you describe the facilities at this school? What extra-curricular activities are available?
Not good at all. Unlike other international schools there is nothing here which makes it stand out. Sporting facilities are almost non-existent. There is a room which is called a gym, but its not. The website shows equipment being used, but it never is since it is broken. The field is shared with another school. The library is pretty mediocre with some books but not a big enough selection - especially of good quality reference books. Science labs in the senior school are rudimentary, and no labs for junior pupils. Nearly all the desks need replacing, and general resources are very poor. Chairs are horrible, the changing rooms are tiny and unhygienic. health and safety issues are horrendous.Rubbish, open gutters, rodent droppings etc etc. I know the school has been made aware of it, but because it would cost a huge amount of money they just employ very cheap cleaners to do the basics. The dining hall is pretty dirty, and Hindu cooking staff (cheapest) won't touch beef or pork so menu is very basic. Owners say how wonderful food is -it's true it is included in fees - and that parents can come in and "taste" food - but the children on the whole do not like it - my son says its boring and unedible and just goes across the road to fill up in Macdonalds. Science materials are nearly all out of date or insufficient. There are 2 computer labs, which are not bad, and some classrooms have interactive whiteboards - but the classrooms are drab, with nothing in them to stimulate the pupils.
The whole school is crowded on the same site with little space - the playground is used by the juniors for PE whilst the seniors are having lunch, so no place to move - just sit down.
What has this school done to help your child transition from the curriculum in your home
country into the curriculum in your new country? Are there programs to prepare your child for repatriation?
There are extra curricular activities - and some clubs in the junior school are good. Music in senior school is non-existent and sport is kept up by an earnest member of the PE department - but he is almost a lone voice. There is no systematic approach, with a lot of time wasted - and no real games programme. One of the "coaches" just runs around not knowing the rules. A lot of activities are for "show" giving a suggestion of good teaching, but a lot of it is mere froth and little or no substance. Education isn't just singing and dancing. Assistants suddenly overnight become class teachers, and PE teachers teach geography - other examples happen on a day to day basis.
School actually only operates for 4 and a half days a week, everyone goes off to prayers at 12.30 on a Friday. No other international school does this. There is a prayer room in the school which occupies a large space but never used. Why does the school close then????? So in early years they never really cover the curriculum. Most teachers do not have English as first language, so if you want your child to learn the wrong pronunciations/spelling then this is the school for you.
No real attempt to understand previous schooling - state they follow the British curriculum, but that is really only to avoid having to make up appropriate schemes of work. No attempt at repatriation, since it is essentially a local school with local teachers.
A lot of time is wasted - if you are not Malaysian then you have a "free" lesson whilst they are doing Bahasa. If you are not a Muslim then you have a "free" lesson whilst they are doing Islamic Studies. No Christian classes or a Christian camp. Prayers for Muslim pupils before examinations, but none allowed for other faiths - really not what an International School should be encouraging. This is particularly divisive and should not be tolerated. In fact it should be totally unacceptable but the owners want it - says it all.
How would you describe the social activities available for parents through this school? Are there parent-teacher organizations?
A joke really. Junior parents much more willing to be involved so do come to assemblies, but there is no real opportunity for parents to deal with staff and pupil issues - and no forum for working together. The school really keeps parents at a distance - and unless you are seen to be important socially the owners walk by you as if you don't exist. A few parents are therefore given preferential treatment (free fees/uniform) which everyone really hates. The owners have not got a clue about inclusivity. Look at revues in Allo Expat to see what has been written. Not space here to repeat what has been written, but it did open my eyes - indeed the school then had that part of the blog removed, but its come back!!
No second hand clothing sales, or selling of text books - owners have a deal with the publishers so they want pupils to continue to buy new books. Lockers are rented out (!!) to pupils so that they have somewhere to keep their books safe. A large number don't bother because of the expense, and quite a lot of thieving goes on. That is why parents are kept at a distance - the attitude is that if you don't like it you can go.
If you want to experience local education which is slightly upmarket compared to local schools, then this will do ok - but if you are expecting the sort of service from a proper international school then do not come anywhere near here. The treatment of expat children and teachers is very discriminatory, which is why they always leave as soon as they can. The approach to religion is despicable - but self-serving. The owners do not care what expat parents feel - they will come and go - but obsessed with pleasing local Malaysian "royalty". Apparently there was a lot of censorship against the previous Principal, who happened to have taught a few years ago at a school with a jewish name. he was told that he couldn't mention this for fear of offending Muslim parents. That was one of the reasons why he left apparently, because International schools should not do that.The world "International" in the title is misleading, because although a large number are from outside Malaysia, those in charge disregard a lot of international thinking. The word "grammar" is misleading because it suggests that it is strongly academic - its not. It is true that there were some pupils who got good grades, but the untold story is those who dropped subjects to concentrate on just a few. The overall grade was ok but how many did they actually take on average? Any one can get A's and B's if they only take three or four subjects.The new acting Principal (why is he acting?) keeps saying that this school is an international school that has a specific Malaysian feel - which might sound impressive, but I want it to be international in feel. Having spoken to the principal of another international school, he said the reason why he only employed teachers from outside Malaysia, and in the UK was that he could guarantee that the teachers were qualified and also able to teach. The teachers at Mutiara are not qualified if they are local, get paid very little, and are trapped because there is nowhere else to teach. Having teachers who are over 70 years of age shows it.
The principal of the other school had no doubt the local teachers were willing, but did not have the skills to teach in a modern way, too rooted in the tired methodology that was old fashioned 25 years ago.
What advice would you give to someone considering enrolling their child in this school?
Overall I have noticed that a large number of comments about this school are on this website. I didn't want to seem to be stabbing it in the back, but I was misled when I joined, believing that my children would be given the sort of education that would help them in a foreign country, far from home. perhaps I have been too sensitive, and some have said that I should just go with the flow - but I feel strongly that in Malaysia there is too much quiet acceptance and not enough people standing up and being accountable for their thoughts. This school is now 12 years old, and I think it is still pretty poor for the reasons I outlined - I also know that much of what happens in there would be illegal in other countries. I also know that as a teacher this place is the most unrewarding in terms of pay, recognition or just plain decent working conditions. No allowing of photocopying, no staff room, constant chaos with day to day timetabling. i was able to get in touch with a teacher who is now back home, and asked her candidly what was good about the school - she said the pupils on the whole were great, but too many of them not given high enough expectations by other staff. The bureaucracy and poor management by the school owners meant that they simply changed their minds and didn't know what they were doing. They never gave the educationalists the freedom to do what was expected. She said that the school was clearly a business and all that was cared about was profits. The teachers were expected to slog their guts with no pay - which is why all the best teachers left. So I write because I think that parents need to be aware of these things, for new staff not to lulled into joining a school which is a scam, and expat parents looking at the website need to know the realities. It is much cheaper than other international schools, but so is the education. The teachers do not feel valued, and it shows - they just do enough to get paid but not to rock the boat.
The ex teacher said that she smiles with joy knowing she won't ever see it again, and she said another teacher who has left (suddenly) would not only rather stick pins in his eyes than return, but if he did return it would be " a billion years too soon!!"
The sad thing is there will always be pupils who will come to the school because others will be full, and I think they will be short changed. This saddens me very much because they shouldn't - and I hope this reply by me will be printed because Allo Expat didn't have the guts to listen, while this website is clearly more willing to allow people to make their own mind. Visit the school and judge for yourself, but with your eyes OPENED by parents like myself.
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