6 things you should know about education for expat children in Asia

6 things you should know about education for expat children in Asia
Expat parents in Hong Kong and China feel particularly unhappy with the cost of education there. Source: Shutterstock

One of the biggest things parents worry about when moving abroad is finding the right school for their children in their new home.

Expats, which classically means those on a corporate assignment, are still arriving in Asia, although the profiles of those who do may have since changed given the different economic landscape of the region now, as opposed to the decade before.

And in tow with them, is their children.

Quality of life in Asia, especially in Taiwan and Singapore, are ranked among the best globally, according to Expat Insider 2017a survey by networking group InterNations on nearly 13,000 respondents from 166 nationalities working in 65 countries.

But how did they rate the state of their children’s education in their new, foreign home?

Education is scored under the “Family Life” category, where its quality, affordability, and availability, were assessed by an online survey which ran from late February to early March this year.

Here are the six key things we found out from the report:

1. Singapore is top for quality

A favourite for expats overall. Source: Shutterstock

One of the four “Asian Tigers” economies, the Southeast Asian country is the 9th best-performing country overall in the world, second only to Taiwan (in fourth place globally) in Asia. However, in terms of educating expat kids, Singapore is second only to Finland, beating Japan (fifth place), Taiwan (11th place) and Hong Kong (15th place).

More than half (56 percent) of the respondents living in Singapore with their kids think the education system is excellent. This is more than twice the global average, which is 26 percent.

2. Philippines, Indonesia doesn’t impress in terms of quality

Indonesia is in the bottom three, while the Philippines is only two rungs higher in this aspect. It didn’t use to be this bad for Indonesia, but this year, it slipped from 40th to 43rd place. A third (33 percent) of expat parents said they are not happy with the quality of education.

3. Growing dissatisfaction in Indonesia

“Since 2016, the Expat Insider survey shows a growing dissatisfaction with the options, affordability, and quality of education in Indonesia,” an InterNations spokesman said.

Only 18 percent of expat parents rated options for their children’s education negatively last year. This year, the figure has jumped to 38 percent.

Affordability is a problem too. Last year, five percent of expat parents found education easy to afford and 25 percent generally regarded it as affordable. But in 2017, these figures have dropped to zero percent and 17 percent respectively.

4. China and India recorded the biggest drop in quality 

Both countries fell 24 places each. Last year, China and India were at 14th and 11th place respectively. This year, they are at 38th and 35th respectively.

(Hover over countries to see how their rankings in terms of ‘Quality of Education’ changed from last year)

“In 2017, a fifth of expat parents in China (20 percent) rated the quality of education negatively compared to less than half (nine percent) in 2016. Similarly, dissatisfaction with this part of expat life in India rose from 13 percent to a quarter in 2017,” the spokesman said.

5. Expat parents in Hong Kong, China are particularly unhappy about the cost

While Nordic states dominate the top five spot in the world in terms of cost, that’s not quite the case in Hong Kong and China. Expat parents here report feeling particularly unhappy with the cost of education here. Coincidentally, expat parents in these states are also far likelier to send their kids to international schools than the global average.

One of the biggest things parents worry about when moving abroad is finding the right school for their children. Source: Shutterstock

While they aren’t smiling about costs, Hong Kong expats say they are satisfied with the quality of education there. InterNations notes that the Special Administrative Region is in the top 10 for all the subjects ranked in the Programme for International Student Assessment, the worldwide assessment of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics and science.

6. Most expats in Asia send their children to international schools

The most popular school options for expats worldwide is the local state school. But in Asia, sending your kids to international schools are particularly more common.

Those who moved abroad for their partners’ career reported higher likelihood to send their children to international schools, as opposed to state schools.

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