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Charis International School
Charis International School

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Study Trip to UK
Study Trip to UK

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Secondary School
Secondary School

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Charis International School
Charis International School

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Charis International School (CIS) started on Aug 24, 2014 as the first international school for Tawau and the third for the East Malaysian State of Sabah. The school is located in Tawau’s new landmark, Calvary Crown; a ten-story multi-purpose building that is situated very strategically in the heart of the town.

CIS, a K-11 school, is a registered Cambridge International Primary and Secondary School, providing the Cambridge Primary, Lower Secondary and the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education).

Charis International Kindergarten (CIK) follows closely after the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) of UK and prepares the children well for Cambridge Primary. The curriculum is a well rounded one, providing avenues for the children to develop in all areas of their lives. The teaching methods encourage students to develop confidence as well as critical thinking skills. Besides the core subjects, children also learn practical life skills, independence, persistence, creativity, patience, cooperation and a caring attitude towards others.CIK is attractively decorated and equipped to provide the conducive environment for children to learn through hands-on experiences. 

The school has received encouraging response from the local community. Outstation and international students can enroll as “Charis Home” is available to offer “A Home Away From Home”.

The team of dedicated, qualified and experienced local and expatriate teachers from UK, America, South Africa, India, Australia and the Philippines adds international flavor to the school environment and enrich the experiences provided.

CIS has welcomed visiting Professor, Dr Debra Sim Si Mui to conduct a “Thinking About Thinking” workshop for the students and teachers. Prof Sim teaches in the Medical Faculty of University of Malaya and will come over periodically to train the students to develop their critical thinking skills to become independent and life-long learners. Other experienced educators from Singapore and elsewhere will also be invited to give their assessment and input so that the school will continue to grow in the right direction.

International school education is the preferred education to give children a better head start for a globalized world that is rapidly changing due to advances in digital technology as well as a need to enhance English language skills for effective communication globally. CIS is well prepared to take our children towards this challenge with our 21st century classrooms where smart TVs, Apple TVs, iPads and computers are part of the learning tools in class and in communication between students, teachers and parents.


CIS actively engages students in activities outside of the classroom to give students a better worldview of life and society. Twelve students went on an educational tour to UK October 7-22, 2015.  They joined an elite school in London for a week to have a taste of British education. A second group of twelve was similarly taken to UK October 11-27, 2017. Charis students also participate in Rotary International sponsored Young Leaders Award (RYLA) training a few times annually as well as in community projects, planning and carrying out special programmes at Grace Alternative Training Centre for stateless children in Tawau.

About our Principal, Professor Dr. Debra Sim

Professor Dr. Debra Sim holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom (UK). She has been lecturing in the Medical Faculty of University Malaya since 1993 and as a Professor from 2006 until her recent retirement in 2017.  She is currently an honorary professor supervising some Master’s students.


Prof. Debra Sim has received much recognition for her work that she is listed in the World Who is Who list in Medicine and Healthcare, USA 2006-2007  and Asian/American Who’s Who, Vol. IV, 2004 India. She was the recipient of the ‘Best Lecturer’ award in the Paraclinical/Year II category from the Medical Society, University of Malaya, in 1986, 1989, 1991, and 1994; and from the Dental Society, University of Malaya, in 1989 and 1994. She is the recipient of the Excellent Service Award for the years 2000, 2002, and 2009, and the Excellent Service Certificate for the year 2004 and 2005 at the University of Malaya.


From the World Bank Fellowship, she was awarded a one month’s study-visit on Problem-based Learning in the University of New Mexico, United States of America, from 1983 till 2019. Prof Sim has published at least 73 full articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, of which  26  is in medical education. She has contributed to various book Chapters published with 4 in Education and 9 in Health Sciences.  She is the co-editor of one book in Pharmacology. She wrote and created the Training manuals and guidebooks for students and staff on problem-based learning (PBL) and prescribing skills.


Her motto at work is: "The sky is the limit for my learning. Professionalism is the goal of my service; Integrity is the guiding principle in my research. The rest I leave it in the hands of the Almighty, All-Knowing, and All-Loving God."


Prof Dr. Sim shared: "Knowing the answer to a question or the solution to a problem is not the ultimate goal in studying. My goal in studying is to explore the many different paths to arrive at the answer or solution, which means understanding the processes of problem resolution and then to decide on which is the best."


Despite the fact that Prof Sim is in high demand even among the colleges of higher learning and among the corporate world to train their staff, she has chosen to come back to Tawau,  her hometown, more as a calling to contribute and impact the life of younger generation. She has great plans in store to bring Charis students and staff to the next level of creative and critical thinking through specially planned activities and workshops. She wants to promote a thinking culture in Charis.


Her joining Charis will mark another milestone in the continuous growth and development of Charis towards becoming a 21st century school of excellence. Dr. Debra is no stranger in Charis as she has conducted a ‘ Thinking About Thinking’ workshop as well as visited Charis on several occasions. Students and staff have enjoyed and benefitted from the workshop. She is very passionate about training students to be critical and creative thinkers over rote learners. This is very much in line with our Cambridge curriculum to prepare our students to be global learners in a borderless world of knowledge explosion and rapid technological advances.

Principal’s Message

Welcome to Charis International School (CIS) – a community of learners.  Whether we are students, teachers or parents, we are constantly learning.  The administrators and maintenance staff are here not only to support us in our learning; they themselves are also part of this community of learners.  Anytime we ask a question, “What is going on?”, “When did it start?”, “Who were involved in the incident?”, “Where is this leading us to?”, “Why should anyone be unhappy about it?”, or “How can I make it better?” we are trying to find out about something, someone, some place, some event, some reason or some process.  That enquiring mind motivates us to seek the answer to our question, be it a simple or complex one.  In the process of finding the solution to our questions or problems, we learn.


Learning often begins with a question or a problem – something we are uncertain of or yet to know the answer.  Knowing how to ask a question – not just any question, but a good question – is key to success in learning.  The well-known physicist Albert Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, but I stay with the questions much longer”.  Einstein also said, “If I have an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions”.  Problems are often a good stimulus for inquiry – they force us to question our approaches and our assumptions.  To solve a problem, we are challenged to think critically and creatively, training us therefore to develop a critical and creative thinking mind-set.  Problems, therefore, are not to be feared but to be welcomed as a good “friend” and trigger for learning and innovating. 


Learning per se, although is good, is not an end in itself.  We learn in order to become – a better person.  Whether you are going to be a teacher, doctor, engineer, architect, accountant, artist, astronaut, entrepreneur, or whatever you aspire to be, you want to be the one whom your boss entrusts, your colleagues respect and your clients trust.  Therefore at Charis, we are not only concerned with helping students to excel in their academic studies; we are also interested with helping them to build their character.  Sir Winston Churchill, a famous British politician, once said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” So we at Charis do not belittle what this little thing can do in shaping the character of each of our students. We learn in order to become a better self, a better neighbour, a better colleague or a better leader.


The academic staff, however, cannot do it alone.  Charis would therefore like to get the parents involved in their own children’s education, especially in character building.  After all, parents are the first rightful persons to educate their own children. Learning is not confined to just the school compound; learning takes place at home too.  We thank you for entrusting your children into our care.  We are here to work alongside you parents to help your children realise their full potential as a person in whatever profession they are to take up in their later years. 


Furthermore, the community in which we live, move and work should also be involved in training our students.  There is so much that can be learned from the “real world” outside the four walls of our classrooms that textbooks can never teach us.  Textbooks often give us the typical examples or prototypes, but when we start working, we often realise that the reality is not as simple as what was taught.  There is a saying, “Patients do not read textbooks,” implying that patients do not always present to their doctors the classical signs and symptoms that they learned about a particular disease during their medical school days.  Hence, field visits, onsite trainings and community projects may be used to provide the experiential learning that can better prepare students for the complex work life in the future.


At Charis, our goal is for a wholesome and balanced development of all students.  Therefore, we aim not only to develop academic excellence, but also to nurture moral integrity and social accountability in them. It is also my aspiration that the school will produce responsible graduates who have big pictures in their mind and details in their eyes, who can think on their feet and speak off the cuff; above all never stop questioning or learning.

Debra Si-Mui Sim

01 July 2019

School Academic Team


Prof. Dr. Debra Sim

Principal &

School Counselor


Kimberly Tang



Sakinah Soib

Cambridge Testing Supervisor


Lim Ko Lii

ICT & Math


Rev. Teh Yung Huat

School Counsellor


Florence Liaw



Vivienne Chong



Chua Mui Nah



Aisyah Parveen



Dayang Azrieanna. 

Performing Arts & Physical Development 


Stella Pang

中文, Extra Curricular

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