▲ North London Collegiate School was founded in 1850 and in 1929 moved to its present site in a mainly residential area of Edgeware, London. Photo courtesy JDC
Jeju Global Education City took a major step toward completion of its ambitious plan on March 26 with the signing, in London, of the first memorandum of agreement, or contract, with North London Collegiate School. The signing was confirmed at 11 p.m. Friday night Korea time.
JGEC is a purpose-built city focused solely on education being developed by the Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) on 3.8 million square meters of land at Daejangeup, Seogwipo City. NLCS is a prestigious independent day school for girls only but will also accept boys as students at its JGEC school. As with its U.K. mother school, the Jeju offshoot will in essence be three schools in one - a junior school, a main school and a senior school.
(See next issue for story on NLCS.)
Project manager Christopher Bogden said that what will be unique about JGEC is that it will be a self-contained city.
“The fact that you are creating a city, and it’s a city that’s focused on educating, not only kids but residents as well, formally and informally.
“In most countries at this time, schools will be developed in cities that already exist, whether it’s Seoul or Beijing or Shanghai. Here, what we are saying is, ‘We’re going to take a group of schools and cluster them in this geographic area that is apart from the major metropolitan areas here on the island - in close proximity but not within Jeju City and not within the Seogwipo urban area - and what fuses everything to happen here, educationally, commercially and residentially, is that English will be the common language. And the intent is to educate all the children in those schools in English and to create an immersion environment for them, even when they’re outside the classroom.
“So as we develop the commercial and residential areas, again, the screening and the process will be in the expectation that ‘You will conduct your business in English.’ ”
JGEC will be within two hours of 700 million people, “more than twice the population of America and Canada combined,” he said. For Korea, that will enable families that now send their children overseas to study to keep their money in the country, and to spend comparatively less. The city will also have access to the vast market of 90 million Chinese primary and secondary students, 210,000 of who study abroad.
Land is already being cleared to follow a land use plan based around protected trees and forest areas and designed by master architect Itami Jun.
“There have essentially been three architectural companies that are working on this project,” Bogden said. “There is a U.K. firm that has worked with the school to create a conceptual design. There’s a Korean company that will take that design and translate it into working documents and working drawings. And then we recently identified Itami Jun as the master architect for the global education city.”
▲ North London Collegiate School provides students with a range of extra-curricular options, including music and sports, in addition to an academic program that has seen the school consistently ranked the U.K.'s top International Baccalaureate school. Photo courtesy JDC
Jun is there to “make sure it all works together synergistically with the environment - the whole nine yards, he’s very, very interesting,” Bogden said.
“For me, it’s exciting. I enjoy articulating the vision of the JDC and the people who conceived this plan. As an educator, someone who’s run schools and even started schools, it is very exciting.
“This opportunity for the schools we have invited to consider is not for everyone. The institution itself has to be at a place in its own evolution to even begin to consider such a move. Because all of these schools that we have invited to participate are well-established and have been in their particular locations, some for well over a hundred years. They’re popular, they’re exclusive, they’re very prestigious, and to step out as boldly as this step would be is unique.
“They’re very much trailblazers in terms of institutions within their niche of the industry.”
Because of that prestige, tuition will not be cheap, Bogden said.
“But many of the schools that we’ve talked to and certainly some that are beginning to consider us seriously, they are very, very expensive. And Korean kids not only have to pay tuition when they go to the West, they have to take care of room and board, and if it’s a boarding school, there’s that much more tacked on to their school expenses. If they’re going and establishing a residence with mom and or siblings, there’s that cost involved too.
“So there will be a significant savings to be realized and it will be above and beyond what would be saved in trans-Pacific flights or trans-continental flights. But it’s not going to be cheap.”
Offering scholarships, or bursaries as they are called in the U.K., is something all the schools in negotiation do in their home countries, and it is envisioned that the same will happen on Jeju.
▲ Photo courtesy JDC
“All of them are very interested in how they could provide scholarships for a certain number of students,” Bogden said. “I think it is something that will be realized to a much greater degree over the years as the schools become established because there is a great deal of expense involved in getting a school up to full enrolment.
“There’s a dynamic tension between paying for the program and getting the school built - because you can’t build it in sections, you’re not going to put students in a construction zone adding floors or building rooms as needed, you build out a whole school and then, over so many years, you start filling it - so there’s those roll-up costs that impact tuition that have to be spread out over time. There’s the cost of the actual building itself but, once you’re up to full enrolment and revenues are coming in, your budgets are established and you get to pay some of these expenses off, there’s greater opportunity to recuperate funds that can be applied to scholarships.
“The toughest and slowest part is to actually get it started. I believe that when we have schools built and up and running, that things will begin to fall into place very quickly. The strategy of going after renowned schools, very prestigious schools, is a very smart one because the name recognition of these schools will attract investors, as well as students and parents and residents.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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