The an­cient African proverb “It takes a vil­lage to raise a child” has long been pop­u­larly quoted when eval­u­at­ing the part­ner­ships re­quired for en­sur­ing the proper and holis­tic devel­op­ment of a child – and one man thinks this ‘ vil­lage’ has never been more

Indonesia Expat - - COTENTS - By Nadya Joy Ador Cur­ricu­lum: Sin­ga­pore Cur­ricu­lum for its preschool to pri­mary years, the In­ter­na­tional Gen­eral Cer­tifi­cate of Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Cur­ricu­lum for its Sec­ondary lev­els, and the In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate Pro­gramme for High School lev­els.

Jas­pal Sidhu: The Man Who’s Re­defin­ing The Bound­aries of World- Class Ed­u­ca­tion

Twenty-eight years ago, a Sin­ga­porean en­gi­neer came to Kal­i­man­tan, the In­done­sian part of Bor­neo, with the hope of try­ing his luck in a new field. Never did he imag­ine he would be as pas­sion­ate as he is right now in the big and chal­leng­ing world of ed­u­ca­tion – un­til he no­ticed the coun­try’s alarm­ing short­age of goodqual­ity ed­u­ca­tion. Jas­pal Sidhu, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the SIS Group of Schools took to heart the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­vid­ing world­class-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion not only for the elite, the expats and high-in­come fam­i­lies in the coun­try, but for prac­ti­cally ev­ery­one who wants it. Sidhu was ini­tially dis­ap­pointed that while there was a good num­ber of pri­vate schools that pro­vided high-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion in In­done­sia, the aver­age school fees across these top in­sti­tu­tions was slated at more than US$20,000 a year. It didn’t take the Sin­ga­porean so­cio-en­tre­pre­neur too long to re­al­ize what he needed to do: he was go­ing to pro­vide sus­tain­able, good-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and have the so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to make it ac­ces­si­ble to as many in­come lev­els as pos­si­ble – a phi­los­o­phy he made sure was in­grained in all the schools within the group, in­clud­ing Sin­ga­pore In­ter­cul­tural School Bona Vista (SIS BV). Fast for­ward nearly three decades, SIS BV now ranks as one of the best schools in the re­gion. Sidhu at­tributes this rapid progress to three key el­e­ments: First, and most im­por­tantly, is the school’s use of the Sin­ga­pore Cur­ricu­lum, which has long been rec­og­nized as one of the best ed­u­ca­tional sys­tems world­wide. Sidhu claims this is ev­i­dent from the Pro­gramme for In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent As­sess­ment ( PISA) test­ing by the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment, as well as the Trends in In­ter­na­tional Mathematics and Sci­ence Study ( TIMSS) test. PISA and TIMSS are rec­og­nized world­wide as nu­anced met­rics for aca­demic suc­cess. Stu­dents who gen­er­ally achieve high PISA and TIMSS test results are of­ten those from Sin­ga­pore schools. Sec­ond, SIS ed­u­ca­tion is largely fo­cused on the PACE phi­los­o­phy, which stands for per­se­ver­ance, an­a­lyt­i­cal think­ing, col­lab­o­ra­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion and en­trepreneur­ship. Sidhu claims that ev­ery teacher, staff mem­ber and em­ployee in the school has to en­sure that PACE is in­jected into ev­ery as­pect of the sys­tem. Third, SIS un­der­stands that the so­lu­tion to hav­ing top-notch ed­u­ca­tion is to have ex­cel­lent and pas­sion­ate teach­ers who hone their skills and strengths in the pro­fes­sion through con­stant ex­po­sure. The school has es­tab­lished firm part­ner­ships with both pub­lic and pri­vate aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions to pro­vide speedy and high-qual­ity train­ing for their teach­ers. As SIS claims to pro­vide world-class ed­u­ca­tion cen­tred on its core phi­los­o­phy and pow­ered by fund­ing from the World Bank’s In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion ( IFC), the CEO now must look to up­hold his orig­i­nal vi­sion of mak­ing SIS ac­ces­si­ble to fam­i­lies of all in­come lev­els. Af­ter build­ing its first SIS cam­pus in South Jakarta that re­mark­ably halved the aver­age school rates for long es­tab­lished in­ter­na­tional schools in the ar­chi­pel­ago to US$10,000, Sidhu went on to build more schools that yet again halved the costs to US$6,000 this time in other parts of Jakarta, Medan and Se­marang. In Palem­bang, South Su­ma­tra, a SIS cam­pus charges a mea­ger $1,800 in school fees for the en­tire school year. And all these schools are pro­duc­ing top qual­ity stu­dents. SIS claims to be the only in­ter­na­tional school in the South­east Asian re­gion that pro­vides two in­takes, one for those who want to pur­sue higher ed­u­ca­tion in the South­ern Hemi­sphere ( Jan­uary to De­cem­ber) and one for those wish­ing to pur­sue higher stud­ies in the North­ern Hemi­sphere (Au­gust to July). “The big­ger op­por­tu­ni­ties lie out­side Jakarta,” the CEO ex­plained. “Jakarta has long been sat­u­rated with schools, [most of which] are way beyond the fi­nan­cial ca­pac­ity of those from the re­gions.” Sidhu added that bring­ing good-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion out­side the city will con­sid­er­ably im­prove ac­cess to fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion and en­sure equal op­por­tu­ni­ties for res­i­dents in those re­gions, both for­eign­ers and lo­cals alike. This year, the IFC ( World Bank Group) ap­proved an­other round of sub­stan­tial fi­nanc­ing fa­cil­ity ex­pan­sion to the SIS group, a lever­age point that Sidhu be­lieves gives his brain­child a bullish ad­van­tage in the mar­ket. “[ IFC] does not have sec­ond thoughts about part­ner­ing with us be­cause it is con­fi­dent with our mis­sion; the good gov­er­nance to ‘scale’ that we have put in place has never been repli­cated any­where else.” The SIS BV CEO stressed the sys­tem’s strong be­lief in the power of the hu­man

cap­i­tal and the need to dili­gently pro­vide pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment across their or­gan­i­sa­tion. Sidhu per­son­ally be­lieves that pro­vid­ing con­struc­tive chan­nels for feed­back is an ef­fi­cient method to en­sure pro­fes­sional growth. In SIS, par­ents are able to crit­i­cize teach­ers, while teach­ers are able to sur­vey the ad­min­is­tra­tion or lead­ers. Stu­dents can also pro­vide feed­back on their teach­ers and their method­olo­gies. “Hir­ing the right teach­ers for the school is a big chal­lenge . . . [so] we work closely with col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties that pro­vide ex­cel­lent foun­da­tion on ‘teacher train­ing,’ which helps us iden­tify po­ten­tial and pas­sion­ate in­di­vid­u­als whom we of­fer in­tern­ships for . . . [and] pre­pare them for the real SIS work,” the SIS chief ex­ec­u­tive stated. In line with its phi­los­o­phy that em­pha­sizes pro­mot­ing ac­ces­si­bil­ity to high-stan­dard ed­u­ca­tion, the school re­cently launched a new ini­tia­tive called ‘SIS for In­done­sia’ or SISI. The pro­gramme aims to have SIS Schools part­ner with pro­gres­sive com­pa­nies across the coun­try and work on mu­tual agree­ments that will en­able mid­dle-rank­ing em­ploy­ees send their chil­dren to SIS. A son of a hum­ble door­man, the young Sidhu did not un­der­stand why his fa­ther never ap­pre­ci­ated him work­ing in the con­struc­tion and min­ing sec­tor. “You will not be able to change the world build­ing bridges, roads and sky­scrapers. Help chil­dren go to school so there will be less and less of these kids who will have door­man fa­thers who die poor,” his fa­ther ad­vised him. The idea stuck to the now- CEO of one of the coun­try’s big­gest chain of schools who has made it a per­sonal vow to help ev­ery­one – re­gard­less of his na­tion­al­ity, gen­der, eco­nomic sta­tus and race – get the right­ful qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion he so de­serves. Sidhu feels blessed to have a great sup­port sys­tem, solid com­mu­nity part­ners, great work­ing re­la­tion­ship with reg­u­la­tory bod­ies and a work­ing phi­los­o­phy that has pushed him to be more pas­sion­ate about his prom­ise. He takes pride in help­ing build that ‘vil­lage’ that pro­vides the right tools that help kids grow healthy and safe and ready for life beyond their child­hood. And with the myr­iad of op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges that to­day’s chil­dren are faced with, the SIS vil­lage wel­comes ev­ery­one and is de­ter­mined to build a bet­ter fu­ture for the younger gen­er­a­tion.

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