“I realised if you can change a classroom, you can change a community, and if you change enough communities you can change the world.” – Erin Gruwell

From their very first day at school, children thrive within a warm sense of community both in and outside of the classroom.

School is a place where children should feel safe and valued; where they are respected for their opinions no matter how contradictory, and where the diverse spectrum of cultures, interests and backgrounds are exactly what makes the learning environment both stimulating and refreshing.

It is important for children to feel supported and accepted for every aspect of themselves, not just their classroom contributions, and not just by the teacher, but by like-minded peers. The environment should be welcoming and inclusive – the objective is to celebrate each individual while building a strong, unmistakable sense of community among students and teachers alike.

Pic: International Community School (ICS), Singapore

According to results from various studies, the inclusiveness of the classroom community has a significant impact on a child’s academic performance. According to research by Dr. Sheryl Reinisch, director of the Early Childhood Education Programs at Concordia University, first-rate, communal classroom environments “help children feel safe, secured and valued. As a result, self-esteem increases and students are motivated to engage in the learning process.”

All things considered, it is easy to see why so many international parents put their faith and trust with the teachers at some of Asia’s finest schools – because the Asian culture holds a deep, ingrained sense of community in high regard.

“Although their arguments vary, advocates of Asian values maintain that there are often sharp differences between the values and traditions in the East and the West,” notes the BBC Case Study The Concept of Asian Values. “They argue that Asians tend to value community and Westerners value the individual. Whereas Asians appreciate order and harmony, Westerners appreciate personal freedom.”

It is for this reason- paired with the fact that Asia boasts some of the best education infrastructure and facilities in the world- that so many parents are preparing their child for success at the top international schools with a community feel in Asia.

Here are our top picks:

1. International Community School (Singapore)

Pic: International Community School (ICS), Singapore

Pic: International Community School (ICS), Singapore

The International Community School (ICS), Singapore, prides itself on its provision of a dynamic, challenging and holistic education, recognizing the uniqueness and talent of each individual student, and helping them develop into the best person they can possibly be.

Despite its location in the heart of Asia, ICS employs an American curriculum, and 86 percent of its graduates go on to attend prestigious U.S. universities. According to the school’s annual alumni survey, all graduates leave feeling well-equipped for the rigors of higher education, and feel they possess the necessary skills to succeed no matter what field of study they choose.

ICS has earned itself an increasingly global reputation for excellence, hosting a culturally rich student body of more than 420 students from 26 different countries. Through outstanding classroom and extra-curricular opportunities, students are encouraged not only to communicate with, but also to value their peers, instilling a mutual love and respect for people of all nationalities through their everyday interactions. The school’s involvement in the annual community service projects, where it partners with ministries in Cambodia, Malaysia, India, the Philippines, and throughout Southeast Asia, also contributes to the students’ international outlook – something that is incredibly valuable in an increasingly globalised world.

Students are encouraged to participate in a broad range of extra-curricular activities, ranging from bowling to taekwondo, ceramics to typography, kickboxing to percussion, and much more. Not only do these activities give children the chance to make friends and become an active member of the community, they also uphold the school’s values for providing a holistic education, and highly-qualified staff are always on hand to ensure no child is left out.

As noted by the school itself: “We want to know our students, make them feel a part of the family, and give them a safe place to belong.”

2. PREM Tinsulanonda International School (Thailand)


“We are a community that challenges its members to act as compassionate , knowledgeable and principled global citizens: working together for a sustainable future and inspired by meaningful relationships, continuous learning and ‘good thinking’.”

Students from all over the world flock to the PREM campus in Chiang Mai to receive a comprehensive international education that leaves them equipped with the social competencies to tackle increasing intercultural independence, quick-paced technological change and critical environmental challenges.

The school offers a state-of –the-art, inclusive boarding environment for students Grade 6 – 12, and there are currently students from more than 30 countries studying PREM’s reputed IB (International Baccalaureate) programs. The school adopts an innovative boarding curriculum delivered by dedicated staff, and fosters a warm, friendly atmosphere that champions familial care and values within a secure environment, pushing students of all levels and abilities towards their full potential.

3. Jerudong International School  (Brunei)

Pic: Jerudong International School

Jerudong International School prides itself on the academic attainment of its students, encouraging each student to become a considerable force in the foundations of the school community and strive towards their best academic performance.

Jerudong offers exceptional purpose-built full and weekly boarding facilities in a safe, spacious, contemporary and, above all, caring community. Its boarding facilities are considered among the best in Southeast Asia, and present a vibrant, busy and inspiring place for children to live and learn. In such a beautiful space where children can feel at home, they are able to form the basis of lifelong friendships, and learn the importance of building sound relationships before facing the daily challenges of everyday adult life.

4. The American School in Japan (Tokyo)

Pic: The American School in Japan

“ASIJ has a rich and successful history that spans over 100 years and places it among the top international schools in the world. The success of its past students and the educational achievements of its current students are beyond question.”

ASIJ enrols approximately 1,500 children, including 520 high school students, 370 middle school, 480 elementary school, and 130 early learning students. It is an incredibly diverse student body made up of 40 nationalities, and many students come to ASIJ already having gained valuable overseas experience.

In the classroom, students put their varied backgrounds to use by sharing different ideas and perspectives. ASIJ students are engaged, creative learners, and foster an international school community based on tolerance and respect for each other.

5. Tenby Schools (Malaysia)

Pic: Tenby Schools

Tenby Schools is a rapidly expanding group of international and Malaysian private schools in Malaysia. Having started in Ipoh, there are now also Tenby Schools in Penang, Setia Eco Park in Shah Alam, Miri in Sarawak, and Setia Eco Gardens in Johor Bahru.

The vision of “A United World At Peace – Through Education” is shared by all its schools, all of which are committed to bringing students from all nationalities and walks of life together so they can become the global citizens of the future. All schools in the Tenby Schools group firmly believe that the young people who have confidence in themselves, respect for one another, and a willingness to work with the wider community around them are the ones that become truly outstanding performers.

6. Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (China)

Pic: YCIS Shanghai

The Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS Shanghai) provides a holistic international education for expatriate children age 2 to age 18. Globally recognised as one of the top international schools in Shanghai, YCIS ’s international curriculum through kindergarten, primary school, and secondary school (IGCSE & IB) prepares students to be competent in both English and Chinese, as well as internationally minded for a complex and competitive future.

Children learn from influences from both the home and school, meaning teachers play a key role along with parents. The world today is more fast-paced and competitive than ever, and YCIS is known to adapt accordingly, teaching children to value of sense of community as they move further towards independence.

Main image via International Community School (Singapore)