Saturday 19 May 2012

The school 'the rest of the world visits'

$300m campus in Singapore touted as most advanced international school
By Sandra Davie, The Straits Times, 18 May 2012

COME August, Singapore will be home to one of the most advanced international schools in the world.

Cognita, an international education group, yesterday announced that the Stamford American International School (SAIS) - which is currently in Lorong Chuan - will move to a new state-of-the-art campus in Upper Serangoon Road.

At the $300 million campus touted as the 'most advanced international school', every child from kindergarten age to the 11-year-olds in Grade 5 will learn using iPads, while the older students will use MacBooks.

The interactive whiteboards in each classroom allow real-time video conferencing, which means that students can be taught by experts from around the world.

A lesson on ancient Egypt, for example, can be co-taught by an archaeologist on site at the Great Pyramids.

There are facilities for children to take up the arts as well as sports - including two swimming pools.

The school offers the International Baccalaureate programme as well as the American Advanced Placement diploma course. Tuition fees are about $30,000 a year.

The group's chief executive for the Asia-Pacific, Mr Brian Rogove, said the school will be the flagship in Cognita's portfolio of 58 schools around the world, which include the Australian International School here.

'Stamford will be the school the rest of the world visits, to see the future of education today,' he said.

Asked why the group had decided to have its showpiece in Singapore, Mr Rogove said he expects demand for places in international schools to grow.

Market research shows that there are about 40,000 students in more than 30 international schools here. Four years ago, there were 32,000 students enrolled.

'Singapore has become the crossroads of Asia and a preferred destination for managing regional business opportunities,' Mr Rogove noted.

'The balance of quality of life and professional opportunities makes Singapore an ideal location for expatriates.'

Stamford - which currently has an intake of 650 students from nursery level to the fifth grade - will be able to house 2,500 students when the campus is fully built. Mr Rogove said that, given the waiting list, the school is confident of filling up those seats.

He added that the group is looking to expand further in Singapore but would not be drawn into saying if it is bidding for any of the four land sites that the Government is releasing for foreign schools.

The Economic Development Board (EDB), which launched the Request for Interest exercise last month, said that as international businesses increase their activities here, it continues to see demand for places in international schools.

This demand was most apparent four years ago, when many of these institutions were full, or had waiting lists. To address this issue, the Government began releasing more land for international schools - the first time in 2008, and the second in 2010. Last month's exercise was the third.

Although the situation has eased somewhat since 2008, some international schools say they continue to face a space crunch amid growing demand.

Mr Aaron Tham, director of the EDB's Human Capital Division, said Stamford will 'add to the range of high-quality international school options here'.

Mr Rogove noted that the addition of places at Stamford will be a boon to the Republic, which is vying with Hong Kong as a financial centre.

Recent media reports have said that Hong Kong is suffering from a shortage of international school places, which may blunt its competitive edge against regional rivals, including Singapore.

International schools across the city are reporting record applications and lengthy waiting lists, and foreign business chambers are warning that the situation is becoming critical.

No comments:

Post a Comment