Elite Boarding Schools Proliferate Through Asia

Nusajaya now is home to the first international campus of Marlborough College, the British boarding school that was founded in 1843 and counts the poet Siegfried Sassoon and the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, as alumni. About 20 percent of its 350 students are Malaysians.

“We are not a franchise, but an expansion,” Mr. Pick said. “We see it as two schools together.”

On the 36-hectare Malaysian site, the equivalent of about 90 acres, Marlborough has extensive sporting facilities, including an indoor sports complex with retractable seating, an all-weather field hockey ground and a cricket field, which Mr. Pick’s house overlooks. In the classrooms, wooden desks are lined up two-by-two and children scramble around in checkered uniforms.

The satellite campus, which began operating in August, is part of Iskandar EduCity, a government-affiliated initiative to build an education hub in Johor State, which borders Singapore. It is also part of a wave of elite Western boarding schools establishing campuses in Asia.

Harrow International School Hong Kong opened in September under a franchise agreement with centuries-old Harrow School in England, whose alumni include the poet Lord Byron, former Prime Minister Winston Churchill and India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Another graduate is Bo Guagua, son of the disgraced former Chinese Communist Party official Bo Xilai, and the first mainland Chinese citizen to attend the main Harrow campus in Middlesex.

Harrow also has branches in Beijing and Bangkok.

Meanwhile, Branksome Hall Asia opened in October in an education hub on Jeju Island, South Korea, as a sister institution of Branksome Hall, the 109-year-old private girls’ school in Toronto.

The schools are tapping into the demands of Asian parents who want their children to get a high-quality foreign-style education while staying close to home. There is also the desire to escape local school systems, which focus more on exams and rote learning.

Vivienne Fung, 40, a former lawyer and mother of two, said by telephone that she and her husband were put off by the traditional approach in many local Hong Kong schools, whose pupils tend to spend much of their after-school time doing homework or in private tutorial classes. Her children, aged 5 and 4, are among the first pupils of the newly opened Harrow.

“We are not into rote learning, we prefer whole learning,” Ms. Fung said. “There is a general perception that many of the more renowned schools in Hong Kong tend to focus more on academic results, and in doing so, accept only the academically brightest children and also expect them to take extra tuition outside school.”

Harrow, she said, takes “a much more holistic view than many other schools in Hong Kong, not just focusing on academic results but also putting a great deal of emphasis on developing each individual into a citizen of the world.”

Harrow’s Hong Kong campus, constructed on a 3.7-hectare site of a former military barracks, is its third to be built outside Britain. In its inaugural year, it admitted about 740 boys and girls, including 180 boarders. It expects to have 1,500 students once all the buildings are completed.

The Marlborough, Branksome and Harrow schools have had a helping hand from local governments in building their Asian branches.

The Hong Kong government allocated land to Harrow for a nominal fee, and also gave it an interest-free construction loan worth 273 million Hong Kong dollars, or $35 million, The South China Morning Post reported.

Categories: Academic

Comments are closed.

Malcare WordPress Security