Is it the curriculum? Is it the internationally minded ideology that is fostered? Is it the diversity of nationalities within the school community? Is it a combination of all of these things?
Defining an international school is challenging because there are various types that exist within their own context. Today most major cities around the world will have at least one or more international schools and the rate of this growth has been rapid. It is quite easy to make the connection between the rise of international schools and the processes of globalization. You can also argue that globalization has facilitated the need to change the ideological underpinnings of education.
The compression of time and space through globalization has very practical implications for schools and education as a whole. For example, it has become essential to educate children for an interconnected world where people are more globally mobile and advances in science and technology have made communication, travel and access to information easier than ever before. Moreover, there is a need to facilitate the education of the children of globally mobile families, so they can have a smooth and seamless educational experience wherever they are in the world and the qualifications they attain would be valid regardless of which country they are in. In addition to the practical implications, there is also a growing consciousness of the world as a whole and the connection between ourselves and the planet. It is the ideological perspective of viewing the world as deeply connected instead of separate countries in isolation from each other. It is the idea that we belong to a global community, where our differences in culture and language can be celebrated but understanding our oneness and similarities are what will make the world a better place. These two factors (the practical and ideological) created the need for an internationally minded curriculum and international schools.
One of the first international schools to open was the International School of Geneva. It opened in 1924 and was formed with clear ideological aims in mind. Their vision was to pursue and maintain world peace through educating the youth with a focus on how people from different nations can work together to achieve international cooperation and a sense of global unity. There were also practical motivators that helped to establish this school. For example, the need for a school to cater to the children of families who had moved to Geneva for work. Since then, these two main influences - the practical and the ideological have driven the rise of international schools around the world.
At New Zealand School Jakarta, we believe we have three key elements to our identity. The first one is the Indonesian element. We respect and give appreciation to the country we are in. We believe it is important to support the local community and also understand the beauty and richness of Indonesian culture. The second is the New Zealand element. We employ the New Zealand Curriculum and our pedagogy is inspired by New Zealand education. We use Māori philosophies to guide us and we celebrate New Zealand culture. The third is the International element. We foster a global perspective and welcome students and teachers from all over the world. We value international mindedness and celebrate different cultures and languages. These three elements merge to form a very unique identity and a place where all people (teachers, staff, students, parents) can feel a sense of belonging.
By Tim Maitland
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