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Presbyterian International School

Presbyterian International School - Dream or Reality?
Rev. Tan Cheng Huat

The Late Rev. Martin Luther's famous "I Have A Dream" speech on August 28, 1963, brought equality and freedom to a land of slavery and hatred. What dreams do you have? I pray that it is to leave behind a legacy of faith for our future generations.

The Presbyterian Church in Singapore (PCS) has an established history of running mainstream schools (See chart). Till date, the Presbyterian, together with the Methodist and Anglican denominations remain as the only three Protestant denominations to be accorded the privilege of running mainstream schools. The Methodists subsequently extended their ministry outreach via the setting up of the ACS (International) Singapore in 2009.

In his inaugural speech at the 2013 Synod Annual General Meeting on 18 March, our Synod Moderator, Rt Rev. Leow Khee Fatt envisioned a vibrant Presbyterian community in different spheres of influence, from theological training programmes for youth, community outreach programmes for the aged to an extension of the Presbyterian brand of education. The vision serves to maintain and strengthen the common ethos among Presbyterian churches, in the light of members' separate registration exercise.

The Synod Moderator tasked Deacon Tony Low, the then Director of Youth and School Ministry to write a concept paper on International Schools in June 2013. A task force was setup and during the first meeting on 23 September 2013, the task force asked the following questions:

1 Why do we want to have an international school?
2 Is Presbyterian International School viable?
3 Is there a demand for another international school?
4 What is it that we want?
5 What is the vision for this 'international school' education?
6 Who is our target group? The elite or critical mass?
7 What godly purposes can we fulfill through the international school? Or are we just fulfilling a business need?
8 Can our resources be better used in other avenues that serve the same needs and objectives?

The concept paper was presented at the Synod AGM in March 2014.

Trend and Development
According to unofficial estimate, there are around 40,000 students enrolled in various international schools in Singapore, of which 4% (about 1,600) are Singaporeans (Straits Times, 8 June 2013). Although more than 30 operators in Singapore are catering to different needs for international schools, the demand exceeds the supply. Recent ST reports substantiated this observation. The world's largest operator of private schools, Gems Education, aims to open an international school in Singapore by September 2014 targeting an eventual enrolment of 3,000 students (ST, 27 May 2013).

Moving forward, demand for international schools is likely to continue due to Singapore's open economy, a multi-national workforce, increasingly globally-mobile Singaporeans and more mixed marriages that involve foreign spouses.

Foreigners could make up nearly half of Singapore's population by 2030. Finding the right school is a priority for many families relocating to Singapore.

The proposed Presbyterian International School will be a concrete response to the clarion call for Presbyterian member churches to scale greater heights for God. On the national front and given PCS's track record in running schools, this initiative will be a boost to the Government's effort to make Singapore an education hub.

Where do we go from here?
Two-pronged approach:
1. Continue to strengthen existing schools.
2. Break new ground - a Presbyterian International School.

A Mission Field at our DOORSTEP:
God has placed a mission field at our very doorstep. The churches in Singapore are already reaching out to the foreign domestic and construction workforce in Singapore. However, children of higher-skilled foreign workers and international students are often overlooked. They may be potential future leaders for both Singapore or globally.

What do we aim to accomplish with the set up of the Presbyterian International School?
What's next?
1. Let's continue to turn to Him for guidance and wisdom
2. Let's be excited as a Presbyterian Community about the possibilities of our generation impacting on future generations to come, just like the missionaries in the early days impacted us with the founding of our PEC schools. Pray for the task force.
3. God has blessed us with many talented and capable church members in our Presbyterian Community. Give your inputs, ideas, suggestions.
4. Will you step forward to be on the team, making a difference through the gate of education? If you do, please contact darryl@presbysing.org.sg.



 
 




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