When you’re think­ing about re­lo­cat­ing to Asia, ed­u­ca­tion is a prime fo­cus. We look at schools in Thai­land and Sin­ga­pore.

When you’re think­ing about re­lo­cat­ing to Asia with chil­dren. One of the many ques­tions com­ing up will be ‘Is there good qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion avail­able?’.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - ANRIKE VISSER

Luck­ily, you’re not the only one ask­ing that ques­tion. Over the last years, in­ter­na­tional schools have seen a steep growth across the re­gion ac­cord­ing to data by ISC Re­search pub­lished by Re­lo­cate Magazine. The re­port il­lus­trates 32 per­cent growth of in­ter­na­tional schools in East Asia and 39 per­cent growth in South­east Asia over the last four years.

Co-founder of In­ter­na­tional and Pri­vate Schools Ed­u­ca­tion Fo­rum, Ms Rhona Green­hill, states to Re­lo­cate Magazine that the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional schools in East Asia has grown from 828 in 2013 to 1125 in 2017. South­east Asia went from 725 to 1008 schools. “We see a lot of growth po­ten­tial in this part of the world for pri­vate and in­ter­na­tional schools, mainly as a re­sult of the con­tin­ued growth of the economies in East and South­east Asia,” says Ms Green­hill.

Ac­cord­ing to Re­lo­cate Magazine, “China, with 567 in­ter­na­tional schools, still dom­i­nates the list of coun­tries in the greater East Asia re­gion. It has more than twice as many in­ter­na­tional schools as Ja­pan, which came se­cond with 257. In­done­sia is in third po­si­tion with 190 in­ter­na­tional schools, fol­lowed by Thai­land with 181, and Hong Kong with 177. Malaysia is close be­hind with 170. Next is Cambodia with 114, fol­lowed by Viet­nam with 111, and Sin­ga­pore with 110.”

Dur­ing the last 10 to 15 years, the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional schools in Sin­ga­pore has in­creased to the point where the com­pe­ti­tion among schools is fierce and each school tries to stand out.

One of those schools is Stam­ford Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional School in Sin­ga­pore (Stam­ford). Stam­ford has two cam­puses: the Early Learn­ing Vil­lage for stu­dents as young from 18 months to 6 years, and Stam­ford’s Main Cam­pus for the Ele­men­tary and Sec­ondary stu­dents from 7 till 18 years old.

Stam­ford Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional School (SAIS) states on their web­site that they are the only school in Sin­ga­pore to of­fer the full In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate (IB) Pro­gramme in­te­grated with US Stan­dards, com­bined with the Col­lege

Board’s Ad­vanced Place­ment (AP) cour­ses. “Stam­ford Amer­i­can aims for their stu­dents to achieve more than they be­lieve they can… aca­dem­i­cally, so­cially and as eco­log­i­cally lit­er­ate cit­i­zens in a cul­tur­ally di­verse world. The stu­dents not only have the op­por­tu­nity to choose a sought af­ter ed­u­ca­tion path­way to help re­alise their aca­demic am­bi­tions, they are also pro­vided with life skills re­flec­tive of the IB Learner Pro­file as adap­tive, thought­ful and principled young adults, with a fos­tered in­cli­na­tion to de­sign, in­no­vate, prob­lem solve and com­mu­ni­cate.”

Stam­ford was founded nine years ago and has stu­dents from over 65 na­tion­al­i­ties. Mr Mark Wil­liams, Up­per Ele­men­tary Deputy Deputy Principal at Stam­ford states, “We want to cre­ate the prob­lem solvers of to­mor­row and in­spire our stu­dents to be in­no­va­tive in their think­ing. Ed­u­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy coaches in­te­grate de­sign think­ing into the cur­ricu­lum and across the cam­pus be­cause we need to pre­pare our stu­dents for an ad­vanced dig­i­tal world that is yet to be cre­ated.”

Over the years, sev­eral well-known peo­ple have vis­ited the school, e.g. No­bel Prize win­ners and sports cham­pi­ons have been in­vited to speak as part of Stam­ford’s Global Men­tor Pro­gram. Visi­tors to the school in­clude Dr. John Fran­cis, en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist “Plan­et­walker” and United Na­tions Am­bas­sador, Jane Sey­mour, award win­ning ac­tress, Andy Stumpf, For­mer Navy Seal and World Record Holder, and Gen­eral (Ret.) David Pe­traeus, for­mer U.S. mil­i­tary com­man­der and CIA Di­rec­tor, to men­tion a few.

The school prides it­self with SGD 300 mil­lion in­vested in its cam­pus, “fea­tur­ing state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy and fa­cil­i­ties that es­tab­lished it as the new bench­mark for in­ter­na­tional schools in Sin­ga­pore and around the world”. Stam­ford is wel­com­ing po­ten­tial stu­dents and par­ents to take a look them­selves dur­ing the open house days from 3 to 6 Novem­ber. In ad­di­tion they are happy to take on per­sonal tours at any time.

From Sin­ga­pore to Thai­land, with NIST In­ter­na­tional School ( NIST) in Bangkok. Mr Brett Penny, Head of the School ex­plains the ori­gin of the school. “NIST was founded 25 years ago by par­ents work­ing at the United Na­tions look­ing to ed­u­cate their chil­dren. The school was set up as a non-profit school so all the fees are rein­vested into the school. The UN back­ground has also let to a very ac­tive out­reach pro­gram. We want to give back to the com­mu­nity.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Jared Ku­ru­zovich, Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at NIST, the growth rate of in­ter­na­tional schools has been stag­ger­ing. “In 1992 the laws were changed, al­low­ing Thai stu­dents to study at in­ter­na­tional schools. Since then, the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional schools has risen from six to nearly 180 across the coun­try.”

Thai na­tion­als make up about 26 per­cent of NIST’s stu­dents, who range from three to 18 years of age. “NIST caters to al­most 1,600 stu­dents from 58 na­tion­al­i­ties. 90 are chil­dren from UN em­ploy­ees and 100 kids have par­ents at the US em­bassy,” Mr Penny con­tin­ues.

Thai­land has three dif­fer­ent kind of schools be­sides the public school sys­tem, Mr Ku­ru­zovich ex­plains. “There are pri­vate schools taught com­pletely in Thai. Then there are pri­vate bilin­gual schools that of­fer part of their pro­gram in Thai and the other part in English. The last op­tion is in­ter­na­tional schools, which usu­ally have a Bri­tish, Amer­i­can or in­ter­na­tional cur­ricu­lum.”

How should you pick the right school for your kids out of all these avail­able op­tions? Mr Penny ex­plains what sets NIST apart. “In­ter­na­tional schools are usu­ally best if the chil­dren are plan­ning to study over­seas while stu­dents from English lan­guage schools usu­ally con­tinue their ed­u­ca­tion in Thai­land. From the in­ter­na­tional schools in Bangkok, NIST is one of the few non-profit schools. An­other dis­tinc­tion is our in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion.”

The non-profit as­pects shines through in the ac­tiv­i­ties or­gan­ised by the school and stu­dents them­selves. On 30 Septem­ber, Dan­ish ac­tor Mr Niko­laj Coster-Wal­dau, known for his role as Jamie Lan­nis­ter on the TV se­ries Game of Thrones, paid a visit to the school. NIST is home to Chelsea FC Soc­cer School and Mr Coster-Wal­dau was an hon­orary ref­eree for the Global Goals World Cup, a soc­cer tour­na­ment for women. The win­ner is the team with the best soc­cer per­for­mance and the best ac­tion ben­e­fit­ting one of the 17 Global Goals for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment by the UN.

An ini­tia­tive or­gan­ised by the stu­dents is FairNIST Cof­fee Co. FairNIST is a project in­creas­ing the qual­ity of cof­fee beans and sub­se­quently the in­come of farm­ers in Maeramit, Om­goi in north­ern Thai­land. The cof­fee is sold at the NIST cafés at the school, one of the places where par­ents are wel­come to hang out dur­ing the day. A gym, yoga classes and other op­por­tu­ni­ties are also open to par­ents.

“As you can tell by all these ac­tiv­i­ties, val­ues are very im­por­tant to NIST and our stu­dents. We se­lect stu­dents and par­ent that align with our val­ues of in­tegrity, car­ing, com­mu­nity and growth. We don’t just ac­cept all ap­pli­cants into our school,” Mr Ku­ru­zovich states. In De­cem­ber par­ents and their chil­dren can visit NIST dur­ing their open house. The dates will be an­nounced on the web­site.

To con­clude, there are many dif­fer­ent fac­tors taken into ac­count when pick­ing the right school for your child in­clud­ing the cur­ricu­lum, ap­proach, val­ues and lo­ca­tion. The num­ber of in­ter­na­tional schools in Asia is in­creas­ing and each school has its own ap­proach. Out of all of these there should be one fit­ting your needs per­fectly.

PHOTO: NIST IN­TER­NA­TIONAL SCHOOL

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