For Branksome Hall Canada, a prestigious all girls’ private school in Toronto, Ontario, the decision to open a new campus in the Jeju Global Education City (JGEC) was about fulfilling the school’s mission statement.
▲ Peter Kenny Photo by Darryl Coote
Recently, Branksome Hall Asia Managing Director Peter Kenny sat down with The Jeju Weekly to talk about the institute’s decision to come to the island, what it means for the school and Jeju, and what the future holds in store for both parties.
“To [the Branksome Hall board of governors] having a campus in Asia was really, if you like, walking the talk. This is a school that wants to produce global citizens,” said Kenny from the JDC’s head office a day before Branksome Hall Asia’s groundbreaking ceremony.
“It is a brave step,” he said of the board’s decision, adding “I think the campus in Asia will be the most important campus, for sure.”
It is well known that the world’s power, economically and politically, is shifting from the West to the East, and this will have an effect upon how and what children will learn in schools. To have “a foothold in Asia means you are a part of the new millennium. Ignoring Asia will be a determent economically, politically and certainly educationally,” he said. “It is not about power. It is about recognizing where the world’s growth is.”
Because of this change in perspective, there will be more weight placed on ideas that were previously less examined and considered due to a relatively more Western emphasis. “Even looking at how our children study World War II still very much has a European focus,” he said, and by embracing this shift through placing a higher priority upon Asian history, culture and politics than before it will be the “catalyst to globalize education in the … Western world.”
Since Branksome Hall, in Canada and in Jeju when it opens in September 2012, follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, which according to the IB Web site is “for students aged 3 to 19 [to] help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world,” this expansion will establish the institute as a truly “global school,” he said.
Now with two Branksome Hall campuses on either side of the world there are new possibilities for education in an ever globalizing world. Though the program is still in the planning stages, Branksome Hall intends to offer an exchange program allowing students from Toronto to come, visit, learn and live on Jeju, and vice versa. Kenny said that this is a great opportunity that will allow Toronto students to learn about Asia while immersed in its culture, while the Jeju students in Canada will be able to interact and better understand the world in which their school was founded. He said this “constant crossover,” has “immense possibilities.” The cost will be included in the yearly tuition.
Though Kenny discussed ways that the Jeju campus will affect its sister branch, he explained that these changes are in line with Branksome Hall’s philosophy of developing global-minded female leaders. One way this is fostered in Canada is through their speaker series, which sees some of the most acclaimed female professionals, like author Naomi Wolfe and the first female president of Latvia Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, giving lectures to the students.
Kenny said that this will also be present in Jeju. “That’s definitely going to be here,” he said, continuing that they will invite successful Korean women to speak, and that, like the exchange of students, these speakers may also visit both campuses.
One way in which the Jeju campus will differ is that they will accept male students from kindergarten to grade three. Kenny said that this is not really that different from its Canadian counterpart. “Branksome Hall [Canada] had boys and girls from kindergarten to grade three up until 15 years ago,” he said, stating that the reason for reinstating this rule on Jeju was for “inclusion” purposes.
“We’ll be recruiting many young teachers with young children [and] ... we wanted to give them the opportunity for their sons to attend Branksome Hall,” he said. After grade three, the male students will then attend one of the other schools in the JGEC.
Kenny continued that cooperation between all schools within the JGEC will be “vitally important” and will extend further than just simply sharing facilities. “[We] need to create a community,” he said.
“This is one of the concepts and selling points of the Jeju Global Education City,” he said, continuing that “every school will participate in creating this educational community within this city.”
Continuing this desire for inclusion, Branksome Hall will be reaching out to the Jeju community as well. Along with offering scholarships to Jeju students who lack financial means to attend the school, they will include teachers from the island in special training sessions when they are conducted for the Branksome Hall staff.
Another aspect he mentioned is sports. “We need hockey teams within Jeju,” he said, elaborating that Branksome Hall will cultivate the game on the island through helping other schools develop their own teams.
“Even the [Branksome Hall] soccer team. They need to play against other girls,” he said. “They’ll play against the other schools here and probably get their butts kicked, but it’ll be a great learning experience,” he said jovially.
Branksome Hall will be establishing a start-up team on the island this august when interested parents will be able to further look into the school’s curriculum. The application period is planned to start in November of this year, and Branksome Hall Asia will open in September 2012.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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