▲ Project Manager for Jeju Global Education City Project
Jeju Global Education City is the Jeju Development Center’s ambitious project which will see branches of about 12 Western schools established on the island by 2015, some as early as 2011. These schools will educate around 9,000 students by implementing their own curriculums, in an English city. As well as schools, bars and restaurants, libraries and medical care, transport and residential facilities will be provided, all with English as their operational language. It’s a huge project, with far reaching implications for Jeju residents- not least the arrival of as many as 1,000 Western professionals. But what will this project mean for English teachers who currently live on the island, or those who may be interested in becoming involved somehow?
Project Manager Christopher Bogden feels that it could offer English-teachers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art facility that will compete with the finest English education programs in the world. He is keen to stress that “admission requirements and admissions standards are all under the control of the schools,” but adds that while qualifications and teaching experience will be important factors with regard to recruiting educators, life experience and personal character will be equally as important.
While considering the role that foreign teachers could play in the city, Bogden’s main focus right now is recruiting schools to the project. “By recruiting I mean to make these schools aware of this project and invite certain of them to consider participation.” North London Collegiate School in the UK and Branksome Hall, Canada have already signed MOUs agreeing to formally asses the feasibility of setting up branches on Jeju. The JDC are hoping that two American schools St Alban’s in Washington and St George’s in Rhode Island, will be the next to sign. He went on to explain that “this is a huge step for these schools, it’s a transformational step for these schools, because they all are well established in their home countries, they have long histories. To take the step of opening up a branch, another school that attempts to replicate what they’re doing in their home country is huge.”
However, he says, “there are a number of very appealing and unique characteristics about the Jeju project and one is Jeju itself, I mean what a beautiful place, and a well kept secret from most of the west. The fact that we are intending to build a city that is focussed on education for all ages is absolutely unique.”
The use of English as the operational language of the city is one thing that makes the project so unique, and this is also where the current English-speaking community can get involved. “I think [what] would be very helpful is when we begin designing in a serious way, residences, and addressing the living needs, commercial and otherwise for the teachers who will be residing in the global education city, would be to ask those of you who live here already. What should we be doing? What should apartments look like? How many restaurants do you need and what should they be serving? Because we do want to attract and retain high quality teaching professionals, that’s without a doubt. We want everybody who’s really interested in working internationally to want to work here. The salary, the benefits, the residential facilities, really have to be second to none.”
Preparation for the arrival of foreign educators will be one of Bogden’s main tasks in the near future, and he feels that there needs to be a “serious shift of focus” by the local government towards thinking about how to accommodate a non-Korean speaking population, “I would hope that we can learn from those westerners who are currently living on the island and have experienced the strengths and the weaknesses of the infrastructure, so we can build upon and address the weaknesses,” he says.
For anyone interested in learning more about the Global Education City project, or perhaps wanting to find out more about becoming involved, Christopher Bogden is hosting a ‘Global Education City Cook Out’ in order to meet English teachers and discuss views and ideas. Event location and time have been provisionally set as Nov. 8, 1pm-6pm, Ora Country Club, Jeju-si, but for updated information please visit: http://jejugec.wordpress.com
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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