CAN SG SCHOOLS EVER MIX FOREIGNERS, LOCALS, ELEMENTARY AND SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS UNDER ONE ROOF?

Dear Editors

I visited the Sekolah Alam Bandung, a “one of its kind only’ school, in Bandung, Indonesia. It is for children from 4 years old to 16 years old, from elementary to high school. Its unique curriculum consists of the following five areas:

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Character and leadership
Logic and academics
Creativity and art
Environment and ecology

There are 250 students, including 12 special needs children who are mixed with the overall student population. It has 58 teachers and 25 staff, which works out to a teachers to students ratio of about 2.3 : 10, and a staff to students ratio of about 1 : 10. The teachers’ salary range from 2.5 to 5.5 million rupiah (S$265 to S$582).

The school is licensed to operate by the Government and has been refusing to take certain government funding for many years, because of the conditions that come with such funding. Needy students also get scholarships to study free of charge. Of the about 250 students – about eight of them are foreigners. No distinction is made between Indonesian and foreign students.

Many graduates from the school keep coming back to be volunteers. I spoke to one who spoke in perfect English, who was full of praise for his experience as a student.

What are your thoughts on such a school? Do you think Singapore can ever have such an unusual school?

Leong Sze Hian

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