THERE isn’t just one answer to this.
One major reason is the cost. These private learning centres, which offer international curriculum, are generally cheaper than private and international schools.
Some parents also believe the smaller classrooms enable teachers to pay closer and more personalised attention to their children.
This is especially important to parents like Jasmin Choy, a mother of two boys, as her youngest son was born with health issues.
“He has severe food allergies and a hole in his heart. A touch of egg, prawns, shellfish or peanuts could trigger breathing problems.
“He wouldn’t have been able to study in a government school because they may not have the resources to help him,” says Choy, who is an administrator of Facebook parenting group, Malaysia Education Info.
It was because of her youngest son, now aged nine, that she explored the option of homeschooling, with her taking up the task as her son’s primary educator at home.
When his health improved, Choy decided to send him to a centre with a small enrolment so that the teachers could keep an eye on him.
The boy and his older brother, 12, now study in the same centre.
“A large school with busy teachers is not the right fit for them. The teachers at the centre are very loving and kind.
“Basically, that was what I was looking for,” she explains.
A father of three, who wishes to be known only as John, says his 12-year-old daughter started studying in a centre in Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya, in September last year.
“The fees are between RM1,000 and RM1,500 a month. It is about 20% to 30% cheaper than sending her to a private school,” says the 40-year-old IT professional.
John says the centre offers the IGCSE curriculum and from his research, he finds their teaching methods encouraging and fun.
“It stimulates students to be more analytical and shows them how their lessons can be applied in their lives.
“Personally, I find that the local school system is overly focused on academics,” he says.
As his daughter is already studying under the IGCSE system, he has no plans for her to sit for national exams as IGCSE is recognised by international colleges and universities in Malaysia.
“The learning centre provides facilities outside of its premises, allowing students to take up swimming, badminton and even dance as part of the course.
“Besides that, I like that the class size is not huge. The teachers can give their full attention to every student,” John adds.
Initially, he was sceptical about such learning centres. But now, he says: “After seeing my kid’s progress in these past couple of months, I’m glad that I made the right decision.”
A mother of three children, who wishes to be known as Qaty, says her eldest son was diagnosed with severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
“He needed a specific, personalised education programme, which can only be done at a learning centre,” says the 39-year-old.
But now, Qaty’s son, who is 12, is producing advanced work a few years ahead of his academic level.
“Socially, he is receiving assistance from school staff and teachers as he has issues blending in with other kids.
“But I am happy as long as he is happy and improving,” says the business owner, who also sent her other two children to learning centres and spends about RM2,000 to RM3,000 monthly on fees.
She says if need be, her children can sit for SPM as private candidates.
The beauty of learning centres, according to Qaty, is that the children have personalised time tables based on their level.
“We know that not all kids are good academically. So as parents, we can get the child to focus on other skills.
“National schools may not have enough resources. Forty kids in one class? Have you even tried handling just three kids? It’s not easy,” Qaty quips.
On the legality of learning centres, she urges the Government to find ways to legalise genuine learning centres.
“We need it for the future generation,” she says.