Fairview International Schools: The Only Whole IB School in Malaysia

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I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and speaking with the brothers pictured here, Dr. Vincent Chian and Dr. Michael Chian, who, along with their father, Mr. Daniel Chian, own, operate, and manage the Fairview School Education Group. Now with four campuses in Malaysia, more than 2,500 students, and plans for more schools throughout Southeast Asia, Fairview has really come into its own. Fairview has come to symbolize what was once thought of as radical practices in education, and has taken its place at the forefront of cutting-edge pedagogical techniques which have translated into some of the most consistently high-scoring students in Malaysia.

When the Chians first started to investigate the International Baccalaureate (IB) six years ago, they enthusiastically decided that it matched their own philosophies of education and therefore they became the first school in Malaysia to be IB-certified, initially for the Middle Years Programme, then quickly following that, for the Primary Years Programme. A few years later, they were certified for the Diploma Programme making Fairview the only whole IB school in Malaysia. There are some other international schools offering the IB, but only in one or two of the 3 programmes.

Thirty years ago, Fairview was established with 29 students in a small venue in Ampang. In 2009, it finished putting the final touches on their flagship school in Wangsa Maju. Like other top-notch international schools, Fairview’s campus is outfitted with a swimming pool, large sports fields, etc., but when you look on the inside of this school, it also has clear and specific internal goals and visions, along with the “Best Practices Methods” to assist their students achieve personal greatness as life-long learners.

I asked the Chians how they managed to attract such qualified and effective teachers and they replied they looked for specific traits, primarily that the person has a genuine passion to do the best by students, and that they would be highly adaptable to new pedagogical techniques and practises. Vincent and Michael also explained (with great passion themselves) that all of their teachers undergo continuous professional development which ultimately consists of at least triple the amount of hours of other international school faculties… about 80 hours annually.

“If a teacher was taught methodologies and specific information in their disciplines 15 years ago, then that was what they relied on to teach today. Ironically, the higher the level of teacher or administrator and the more years they have taught, the longer ago they themselves underwent training, and that means they have degrees of stagnation. They were not using new and best practices, but relying on what they had been taught years ago,” Dr. Vincent asserts.

Dr. Michael goes on to explain that although they look for youthful faculty, they have also managed to find and retain 60-year-olds who have this particular passion, or “fire in their belly” as Dr. Vincent likes to put it. The school nurtures these teachers to become core leaders, not for a higher paycheque, or to feed an ego, but for the sense of purpose they get from moving freshly tested ideas and progressing forward using the latest theories and thinking, and passing these along to their peers and students.

If teachers are bored or are teaching due to the ego factor, or because they find it easy to relate the same information in the same ways year after year, these teachers are doing themselves, their careers, and their students a disservice.“A great teacher is one who ‘serves’ first,” Dr. Vincent continues, “then excellence follows and success is the ultimate result.”

Fairview is also unusual in that it offers a Master of Education internally to its faculty. Teachers are given the tools for generating pedagogical systems that are new and will withstand peer review and become the new “best practises.” Dr. Vincent was adamant that teachers cannot just be “takers” all their careers, but must also generate new pedagogical systems themselves to avoid stagnation in themselves and in their students and schools.

The essence of Fairview is that it is a cultural organisational group with a blurred hierarchy since students; teachers and administrators are all working towards the same goals and visions. They are learning how to think, how to progress their thinking and theories forward, and how to garner new information as well as be a life-long learner and educator to those around them. Once a teacher has originated a new idea, they want to take over that idea and own it. The school supports them unequivocally with emotional and resources support, perpetuating a process of always having change in the curricula and in students’ and teachers’ thought processes. This is the very essence of education as the thinkers and teachers of Socrates’s time envisioned.


“Get the teachers engaged with the students as partners and they will teach that student until the child really understands the concept, even if it takes several explanations,” Dr. Michael relates. “This fosters trust, respect, and most of all security to the students.”

To learn more about Fairview International School, please visit


Source: The Expat September 2013

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