Located in the small but mighty nation of Brunei –– where the air is clean, the climate is pleasantly warm, beaches are glistening, and rainforests are the most biodiverse on earth –– is a vibrant learning environment that inspires far more than just academic success.
At Jerudong International School, emotional, behavioural and intellectual development is just as important as academic success. How else would young adults comprehend the importance of empathy towards others, creativity, effective-decision making, motor skills, and self-discipline?
These skills are best developed in both state-of-the-art classrooms and, of course, the great outdoors. Thankfully, there’s plenty of ground to cover at JISBrunei –– every inch of which is used to host a Strong Enrichment programme comprising Outdoor Education, Leadership, Education for Sustainability, and Service.
There’s never been a better living laboratory for an exploratory journey to a lifetime of success. “Although Brunei is a very small country with a population of just over 400,000, the school is able to offer one of the largest International Award programmes in Asia taking full advantage of this unique country which has such a rich biodiversity and cultural environment,” says Simon Major, Biology Teacher and Head of Outdoor Education at JISBrunei.
Simon runs the International Award (Duke of Edinburgh Award) at JISBrunei with pride. In fact, the school is a leading provider of the award at the Bronze, Silver and Gold levels for students aged 14 and above. Each level is packed with activities designed to develop students’ sense of service, physical abilities and practical skills.
“It is a phenomenal programme that I am very proud to be a part of,” Simon enthuses. “Being one of the largest International Award Centres in Southeast Asia, we have a very large cohort of young people and highly experienced colleagues. That in itself is humbling as each and every one of them has become part of the Award family to make a difference in their own and other people’s lives. This is a programme of self-development that aims to make the participants more world-ready.”
A Level student Josh Lindsay completed all three levels to become the well-rounded, caring and thoughtful learner he is today. While the programme commonly transports students to the likes of Kenya, Malaysia, Northern China, Northern India and more; COVID-19 restrictions kept Josh in Brunei for his Gold Award adventurous journey. However, he is proud to share that he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“It gave me the opportunity to give back to the local community that has been supportive of me being here as an international student, an opportunity I would not necessarily have had if we had gone to China,” he says. “I also liked how I was able to explore more parts of Brunei that I have never seen before.”
Resilience is the trait he’s most grateful for. Reminiscing on his local excursions, Josh recalls many instances where calling it quits was extremely tempting. Soon he realised the change of pace was intentional. JISBrunei believes that when students step out of their comfort zone, they grow closer to achieving their full potential. Achieve, Josh did.
“Sticking through those moments and carrying on –– despite the blisters, rain and wildlife, to name a few obstacles –– has been a skill that has transferred into my life outside the award,” he says.
These are the kind of student transformations JISBrunei strives to achieve. Little wonder why 365 aspiring leaders over the age of 16 have signed up for the Gold Award while undertaking the rigours of A Levels or the IB Diploma Programme. The benefits are well worth it. Developing the confidence to spearhead a better, more inclusive world is one of them.
“The opportunities for our participants are incredible,” explains Simon. “Brunei, despite being a small country, has a wealth of opportunities. Access to community projects is a particular highlight. Working with local tribes and learning their traditions at the same time makes an enormous impact on the quality of their lives.”
Alongside local ethnic groups, such as the Dusan and Iban, International Award participants have rebuilt community longhouses and schools, assisted in conducting lessons, and most importantly, they have learnt key skills that have not only bettered their understanding of Brunei but also allowed them to make small but significant “teaspoons of change” in the local community.
JIS students work together to add up their small individual teaspoons of change to make a significant global impact. This is driven through the whole school Polio Points reward system. Students from Year One to 13 are awarded Polio Points for doing something beyond what is normally expected of them that are linked to the school’s six student aims: integration, leadership, resilience, engagement, thinking, and communication. Once students have collected a Polio Point for each aim, a one US dollar donation is made to UNICEF’s End Polio campaign.
To learn more about how else JISBrunei helps its learners develop key life skills, enduring friendships, and the confidence to carve their own paths to success, click here to learn more.