Boarding in Asia: The secret treasure parents and students are discovering in Brunei
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Boarding in Asia: The secret treasure parents and students are discovering in Brunei

Boarding in Asia: The secret treasure parents and students are discovering in Brunei

Touted as the “Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures”, Brunei is certainly one of Southeast Asia’s most underrated gems, with its sunny tropical climate, lush rainforests and unique culture. The peaceful nation is a paragon of tolerance and understanding, as its diverse communities live in harmony alongside each other.

The country is nestled in the green heart of Borneo, with its shining capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, nestled on the Brunei River across from the famous water village. The country is a fascinating mixture of influences, from its magnificent Islamic architecture to its laid-back rustic villages to its modern shopping complexes.

In the Malay language, Brunei is known as Brunei Darussalam – darussalam is Arabic for “abode of peace”. As it is an Islamic country, Brunei is known to be somewhat conservative, but it is also said to have one of the world’s highest standards of living, providing access to top-quality healthcare and education facilities.

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Pic: Adib Wahab / Flickr

According to Numbeo’s most recent figures for its Quality of Life Index (April 2016), Brunei is among the cream of the crop at 99.29. Contributing to its high score are its almost non-existent levels of traffic and pollution. Cost of living is also reasonable, while residents are very confident in their safety, due to low crime levels and a stable political environment.

English is widely spoken in Brunei, as it is one of the country’s primary languages, especially for business and education. The oil and gas industry is a major contributor to the nation’s wealth, and as a result, there is also a large expatriate community that welcomes newcomers with open arms.

Brunei’s equatorial climate allows for a wide range of exciting outdoor activities: water sports such as snorkelling, scuba diving and sailing are all popular. There are plenty of other things to do as well, like tennis, golf, and cycling. If you enjoy a slower pace, be sure to check out the museums, national parks, or go on a relaxing boat cruise.

Thanks to all these factors and more, an increasing number of parents and students are placing Brunei among their top locations when considering boarding schools. And as one of the region’s leading boarding schools, Jerudong International School (JIS) outclasses all other options, offering a boarding experience unlike any other. 

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Pic: Jerudong International School

Achieving excellence through holistic learning

Founded in 1997, the school’s 300-acre campus holds a prime location near the region’s peaceful capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, which is surrounded by verdant, green rainforest and gorgeous views of the South China Sea. The school, which is also a day school, has spacious and well-maintained grounds that help provide over 1,700 students, aged between two years and 18 years, with a well-rounded international education.

It’s understandable that some students (and parents) feel apprehensive about boarding overseas when it’s likely their first experience of living away from home, but the benefits of a boarding school education will help students quickly overcome any niggling doubts. Here are some of the perks that boarding school students can enjoy:

A close-knit, diverse community

Boarding schools allow students to explore the world around them, picking up not only valuable knowledge, but also vital skills that will help them succeed in their future endeavours, like discipline and how to be self-sufficient. And the best thing is all these things are learned with the support of their peers and guidance from qualified staff.

As children go through their formative years, it’s important to make sure they’re in the kind of environment that encourages them to reach their full potential. According to a survey conducted by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) – which interviewed students from public schools, private day schools and boarding schools – out of those interviewed, boarding school students were more likely to say that their peers were motivated and that they had a supportive environment (both 75 percent). High percentages of boarding school students also said that their schools were ethnically and racially diverse (59 percent) and that they had more opportunities for leadership roles (77 percent).

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Pic: Jerudong International School

JIS welcomes students from all over the world – up to 55 different countries, as a matter of fact – meaning its student population is diverse and multicultural. Early exposure to people from all walks of life will help students form an open mind as they learn to live and work alongside peers with contrasting perspectives, and also learn how to find common ground with one another. It’s no surprise, then, that friendships formed at boarding schools often last a lifetime.

The school offers weekly and full boarding facilities for students in Years 7 to 13, including two male and two female boarding houses, specially designed to provide a modern and caring environment in which students can live and learn. For the students’ comfort, the school tries to ensure boarders are roomed with those of a similar age as much as possible. The accommodation also houses residential tutors and Matrons so students always have a suitable level of staff supervision. The Boarding Housemasters and Housemistresses are all also teachers within the School.

Top-tier education and extracurricular activities

Boarding schools are well-known for providing first-class education and extracurricular opportunities. In the same survey by TABS, 90 percent of boarding school students claimed their teachers were of high quality and 91 percent of them also attested to their school’s academically challenging curriculum (91 percent).

The school is an accredited British School Overseas (BSO) and thus offers a British-style education, yet provides an international curriculum that allows students to prepare for the International Baccalaureate, GCSEs, International GCSEs and A-Levels. To ensure students get the best possible education, the school employs only the highest calibre of teaching staff. JIS’s 200 teachers mainly come from the U.K., but there are also some hailing from France, Australia, New Zealand and Brunei.

JIS aims to provide students with an all-inclusive education that imbues them with beneficial skills such as critical thinking and communication through leadership, integration and participation. As a result, many JIS students have gone on to top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, the London School of Economics, Australian National University, and the National University of Singapore.

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Pic: Jerudong International School

JIS is also one of the only two schools in the country which are licensed to deliver the prestigious International Award (also known as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for Young People) – the award has been instrumental in developing participating students’ sense of service, physical abilities and practical skills. The program has been a smashing success so far, as the school currently has the highest number of students in the Asia-Pacific Region taking part.

Comprehensive facilities

To complement the school’s high quality of education, the facilities at JIS are second-to-none. Recently rated as ‘outstanding’ in the School’s inspection, each boarding house includes student lounges/common rooms and kitchens. There are modern study labs available for the younger students, where they can complete assignments in a single-sex setting under the supervision of teaching staff and prefects. These computers are also available for recreational use, while students in Years 11 to 13 have access to Wi-Fi coverage for use with their own personal laptops.

There is also a central dining room where boarders can eat and socialise, enjoying food specially prepared by professional caterers. Besides that, there are music practice rooms, prayer rooms, medical recovery rooms and a residential nurse for any out-of-hours emergencies.

Boarding students will also appreciate the convenience of not having to worry about getting to class on time, as their accommodation is within easy walking distance of the school.

Additionally, students can fully utilise the school’s sports facilities. The new sports complex opening in early 2017 as well as the existing extensive sports facilities on the 300 acre campus can be used during their recreation time both before and after school. The complex will be equipped with two large indoor multi-purpose courts, an indoor 8-lane, a 25-metre length swimming pool and a fitness suite.

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Pic: Jerudong International School

As well as the sports complex, the school has exceptional covered multi-purpose courts giving students the opportunity to participate in team sports such as badminton, netball, volleyball, five-a-side football and other court games. The impressive 50m outdoor swimming pool complements the new indoor swimming pool. Three large sports fields allows students to develop football and rugby skills, whilst the modern fitness suite also allows students to focus on their training, health and well-being.

Other than looking after their physical health, the school also encourages students to express their creativity. Its Arts Centre consists of an impressive theatre, internationally-engineered acoustics and a sophisticated auditorium with a capacity of 725 people. It also has an exhibition gallery, a large dance studio, spacious music rehearsal facilities, as well as other smaller, sound-proofed music, drama and dance areas.

Scenic surroundings

The majority of boarding schools boast stunning scenery, and the JIS campus is certainly no exception. Its contemporary buildings offer a stylish aesthetic that students can take pride in, while its natural environment provides a serene setting that is conducive to learning.

The expansive grounds and well-equipped faculty buildings are surrounded by colourful, well-planned landscaping, featuring a variety of flora, while the school’s extensive outdoor playground facilities include several fully-covered climbing frames, swing structures, sandpits and cubby houses. There is also a nature garden with a pond, which is home to some friendly turtles.

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Pic: Jerudong International School

Shaded seating areas provide cooler spots and space to interact, socialise and study, while covered walkways ensure students are adequately protected from the sun and rain while making their way to class. The school’s buildings feature wide, airy corridors decorated with students’ art work, photography, installations and sculptures, in addition to highly-decorated trophy cabinets.

JIS students are encouraged to play a part in keeping their school a clean and beautiful place, and many have done so by putting together mosaics, designing seating and making a Totem Peace Pole. The Eco Garden is another student-led initiative, and was designed and developed by the Eco Committee. 

For all these reasons and more, if parents and students are looking for the perfect boarding school to represent a home away from home, they’ll be sure to find it at Jerudong International School.

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This article was sponsored by Jerudong International School (JIS), located in primary rainforest, Sea Eagles are often seen soaring overhead the school. Their facilities are top of the range, with a purpose built, extensive boarding facility recently accredited as “outstanding”, a modern Arts Centre, spacious classrooms, 26 fully equipped Science laboratories and superb sports facilities.Next January, the school will also have a new sports centre, providing the school with an additional two gyms and an Olympic-sized pool. 

JIS is proud of its comprehensive education, with students progressing to world-class universities such as Cambridge (UK), Melbourne University (Australia) and Stanford University (USA). The school is also one of the biggest participants in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award programme, with more than 300 students completing the Gold, Silver and Bronze level leadership programme each year. At JIS, students can benefit from an unparalleled music and arts programme. Students can learn their instrument and watch performances at the School’s premier Arts Centre.Thanks to the school’s international focus and small-community atmosphere, students will experience a unique education during their time at JIS – as unique as Brunei itself. 

You can connect with Jerudong International School on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit their Youtube and Flickr channels.

Featured Image by: Romain Pontida / Flickr.

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