A good education does so much more than help children do well in exams — it nourishes their mind, body, heart and soul. In a world where automation and AI are transforming the workforce, a McKinsey Global Institute analysis found that the top three skills that will matter most by 2030 are: technological skills, social and emotional skills, and higher-level cognitive skills (such as complex data processing and critical thinking). A school that develops the whole person harnesses these skills — which not only make for a solid start to a fulfilling career in an uncertain future, but also for a life with meaningful pursuits.
Whether it’s the arts or biology, Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar International School offers a wide range of opportunities that gear students up for success in higher education and beyond. For Amalina’s parents, KTJ was the right school to provide stability for their daughter, who was just about to start her IGCSEs. “The reason we sent her to boarding school was for continuity, but the most important part is it provides a structured environment,” says her father Mohd Said Saifulmazli.
During a visit to the school’s green and spacious campus in the verdant town of Mantin in Malaysia, Amalina’s parents understood why the school is a top choice amongst students and parents alike. They saw first-hand how its campus culture was “very dynamic.” Students and staff, who come from all over the world, are engaged and focused on a variety of activities. “It’s quite diverse which is suitable for Amalina, so she doesn’t get a culture shock either way,” says her mother Siti Aisha Ahmad-Afandi.
In the HSBC Hurun Education Global High Schools 2023, a list of the world’s top independent schools, KTJ placed 55th amongst independent and international schools globally. It was also the only Malaysian school featured on the list and ranked third amongst schools outside of the UK and the US.
In 2023, KTJ won the International School of the Year award by the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA). It’s a recognition of leading international boarding schools outside of the UK demonstrating excellence in boarding, facilities and student welfare. BSA, the largest association of boarding schools in the world, represents 640 boarding schools, 500 of which are based in the UK. KTJ also won the International School of the Year Award in 2021.
“We are delighted to win the International School of the Year award for the second time,” says Principal Dr. Glenn Moodie. “We feel it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our trustees, staff, students and parents who drive our school community forward.”
Founded in 1989 by three siblings of the Negeri Sembilan Royal Family, the school aims to embody the strengths and values of a British boarding school education,infused with the vitality of Malaysian culture. Its guiding values are integrity, empathy and mutual respect, which are embedded within the school from Primary to Sixth Form and beyond.
Boarding is one of the most rewarding aspects of school life at KTJ. Living and learning with people from all walks of life, students gain independence, learn important life skills and discover different cultures. As KTJ’s green, 80-acre campus is located in the Negeri Sembilan countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of city life in nearby Kuala Lumpur, students have a calm environment to live and learn. It also allows them to suggest new experiences, such as camping on campus with their friends!
“I actually grew up in the Middle East and in Saudi Arabia, so camping was a big part of my childhood as we went to the desert every weekend,” says Amalina. “When I came to KTJ, one of the things that stuck out to me was how little light pollution there is, and that’s why it made me think that camping here would be really cool because you could look up, you could see the stars, and I think that would be really fun.”
KTJ’s Sixth Form education is a first-class ticket to the world’s top universities. “In our Sixth Form, our students begin to explore their own thinking and interests, which is crucial for their A Level planning,” says Emma Davidson, Head of Sixth Form, whose three children also attended KTJ before progressing to top UK universities. Davidson was the President of Oxbridge Society Malaysia and is an expert in Oxbridge university admissions, being an Oxon alumni herself.
During Sixth Form, students try to determine the degree they would like to pursue; would it be law, medicine, electrical engineering, or mechanical engineering? “These are all dilemmas which our Sixth Form students have successfully worked through thanks to our exploratory and holistic approach to enrichment where students discover just as much about themselves as they do about the world around them,” Davidson adds.
For Amalina, who is now Head Prefect, a place at a top university is the ultimate goal. It’s one she’s set to achieve — not just for her good academic performance but for how KTJ shaped her into a well-rounded candidate. Here, she’s discovering her self-confidence, coming out of her shell and finding her voice. During her IGCSEs, she was an active member of the Student Council. “Amalina’s growth in KTJ has surprised us in so many ways,” says mother Ahmad-Afandi. “She has shown how she can do time management and she’s passionate about a lot of things that I might not have been aware of before. KTJ has allowed her to grow and expand on those passions, so that has given her tremendous confidence and growth. We really appreciate KTJ for that.”
Another highlight of the A Level experience at KTJ is its newly renovated Sixth Form Centre, which provides a dedicated space for Enrichment Events. “This is where our senior students gather for pizza and Milo and to engage in discussions such as constitutional law development, economics, the rights of refugees, working for a startup, Shakespeare’s Richard III, ancient Greek influences on modern life, the concept of love and especially creating a LinkedIn profile and how to network a room,” Davidson says.
In this space, students, alumni, teachers and external guest speakers come to give talks and explore various topics. This is where students have also started academic exploration clubs such as STEM, technology, economics, finance, and the new The Thinkers Ideas Club.
Oxbridge society events include debating forums, engineering workshops, and the law moot, which students frequently attend and often help manage. “All of this enables our students to add academic depth to their chosen subjects,” says Davidson. “The super curriculum goes beyond the A Level syllabus and is so important for successful applications to top universities around the world.”
In 2021, KTJ was listed as one of the top 20 international schools for Oxbridge admissions by British newspaper, The Telegraph. KTJ is where students are encouraged, supported and championed throughout their schooling, from Primary School up to Sixth Form, where they receive two years of extensive university application support. This is complemented by the Sixth Form’s exceptional examination results — in 2023, 81% achieved A* to B in their A2 exams. “Yet our Sixth Form is so much more,” adds Davidson. “It is where your child will flourish and discover how to be the very best person that they can be, in whatever direction they choose.”
Book your place on an upcoming Open Morning to learn more about KTJ Sixth Form from Emma Davidson and current students.