The I.B. curriculum is making waves worldwide. The curriculum has high demand from parents and students from the majority of the count. Indonesia is no exception.
SIS group is on a mission to fulfil these new demands of parents and students in Medan and South Jakarta. SIS Medan and SIS South Jakarta (SIS SJ) are part of an international-award-winning SIS Group of Schools. Founded in 1996 by Singaporean Jaspal Sidhu, the SIS Group aims to make quality education accessible in developing countries by making it affordable to more members of its society. The Group is in a strategic partnership with the IFC (World Bank). It has footprints in Indonesia, India, and Myanmar and is soon expanding to the Philippine.
The SIS Schools offer three of the world’s best curricula; Singapore, Cambridge and International Baccalaureate (I.B.). This unique offering has seen SIS producing excellent academic achievements that have helped place its students in 23 out of the 50 top-ranking universities so far.
SIS South Jakarta is a K-12 school and is where the SIS Group journey began. The setup of SIS SJ followed the Raffles Institution, a premier school in Singapore, which is the Founder ’s alma mater.
Combining the unique offering of tri-curricula programming and competitive pricing (priced at more than half the fee of the other established international schools at that time), SIS SJ soon gained popularity among the expatriates and local communities, which continues till today.
SIS Medan is also a K-12 school and uniquely the first School on the island of Sumatra to offer the I.B. programme at affordable fees. By doing so, SIS Medan made I.B. accessible to more expatriate and local community members, which sets it apart from its competitors.
Like its sister school, SIS Medan also offers the SIS tri-curricular programme. Both schools boast a consistently high above-average I.B. grades every year.
Collaborating with SIS Network
Despite its distance from Jakarta, SIS Medan and all other SIS schools in the Group do not operate in isolation. Members of faculties and staff regularly collaborate with their counterparts across the SIS network in a unique ecosystem aided by technology.
In 2019, the Financial Times – IFC (World Bank) awarded SIS the Transformational Business Award in Education in recognition of this unique collaborative ecosystem.
Turning Raw Idea into Reality
In 1996, the journey of SIS Group started as a modest one-story school building in a temporary location with a minor investment. Within a year, the School was able to afford to build a playing field and its first basketball court.
Notwithstanding the lack of facilities, enrolment progressively increased from 50 to the School’s maximum intake of 200 under the leadership of well-known educationists from Singapore.
The school quickly developed a lengthy waiting list of international students. This prompted the Founder to quicken their search for a permanent location with amenities on par with Jakarta’s best international schools.
In a housing development in Bona Vista, South Jakarta, SIS was able to redesign, build, and ultimately transform an ‘abandoned’ clubhouse into a school that is the talk of the neighbourhood.
Today, the School is easily accessible from many areas of Jakarta thanks to its location in a peaceful neighbourhood that borders the upscale Pondok Indah real estate and is just two minutes from the Outer Ring Road.
The SIS complex is surrounded by beautiful, curved gardens and boasts an open, airy concept. The amenities, which include a competition-sized pool, a football pitch, basketball courts and tennis courts, are available to everyone.
Staying True to Values
The vision of the SIS group explains why it exists. It strives to inspire its learners toward greater heights.
The group is committed to its mission to spark curiosity and inquiry while developing values and 21st-century skills. It prioritizes learners and personalizes learning to make a better world.
The values of the SIS group are fairness, respect, integrity, compassion, and courage. These values are the foundation of how the group does things.
Building on those in the group’s Desired Student Learning Outcomes (DSLO). Its DSLO identifies the skills and competencies for students to succeed in their colleges and career.
In the school setting, there are dynamic and goal oriented Headteachers, Ryan Krause (SIS SJ) and Karl Bresler (SIS Medan). They both lead their teams of equally passionate and capable faculty and staff members.
Both headteachers receive the support of the visionary and excellently governed SIS Board and the Council of Head Teachers that they are members of with other SIS Schools.
This ecosystem of vision, collaboration and support led to the growth of the SIS Schools.
Initiatives to Provide Best Practices
SIS Schools have developed Public-Private Partnership initiatives aimed specifically at exposing public school teachers to best practices. Teachers from neighbouring schools are encouraged to visit and watch SIS teachers in action
SIS schools also provide internship opportunities to aspiring local teachers and principals. Other initiatives include raising funds for improving the facilities of public schools.
Tackling the Challenges
The biggest challenge that SIS faced was the recent pandemic. Early on, SIS tackled it by ensuring the well-being of both teachers and students was looked after. The schools collected regular feedback from all parties (students, parents and teachers alike) and improved their delivery, systems and processes as they went along.
SIS invested generously in technology, pre-pandemic, and hence the infrastructure didn’t become an issue. The open and transparent feedback systems resulted in high satisfaction levels from the community. While other schools lost students during the pandemic, SIS schools saw an increase in enrolment.
Taking Interests into Account
SIS schools offer a host of extracurricular activities to encourage students to pursue their passions outside the classroom. The activities offered are in line with DSLO and take into account the interests of communities.
Students participate in sports, arts and academic competitions, community work and Model United Nations conferences, among many others.
DSLO share similar competence outcomes with STEM. The schools teach and embed STEM into the school programme.
Coding and robotics curricula are taught right from the early years to develop computational thinking. The SIS Technology curriculum teaches Design Thinking. Makerspace and V.R. labs are in various stages of progress in the schools.
On top of the above, the SIS Schools also find other areas in the curriculum to provide opportunities for the students to do STEM activities like school projects and summer programmes. The Schools have also embraced the United Nations Sustainable Goals. School projects include solving environmental and community issues.
Higher Level of Engagement
SIS schools place a heavy emphasis on their Global Perspectives program. This allows students as early as the primary levels to understand their environment and global issues. This program then naturally morphs into the I.B.’s Community Activity Service (CAS) and Theory of Knowledge components.
Another focus of SIS schools is its approach to teaching via Active Learning. This teaching approach allows for a higher level of engagement and better learning outcomes.
The efforts of the SIS group have been acknowledged, and the group has received some of the most prestigious awards, especially in the last three years.
- 2019: SIS was awarded the prestigious Financial Times – International Finance Corporation (World Bank) Global Transformational Award for its collaboration model and impact in the education sector.
- 2020: SIS was named by Capital Finance (in London) as the Best Educational Institution in SE Asia in terms of impact on its stakeholders and communities.
- 2021: SIS was nominated for the Stewardship Leadership Award by INSEAD and the Hoffman Global Institute.
Thinking Beyond Grades
Asked how SIS schools will embrace the fast-changing world, the Founder Jaspal Sidhu shared his thoughts and said, “The world is indeed unpredictable. Grades alone will not be enough. Students need to be curious and try different things to tap their interests. No experience is wasted. They need to embrace challenges and learn to persevere, but they also need to understand their own body and anxieties. Not keeping things bottled up but reaching out to family, teachers, and friends for support as they navigate social and emotional challenges.”
“SIS schools will continue to move with the times and the demands of this new and unpredictable world. Skills like perseverance, analytical skills, collaboration, and innovation will continue to sit at the centre of the school program. Technology like Virtual and Augmented Reality will play a bigger role in our learning and teaching approaches. Our students have moved to some of the best local and international universities in the world. And the best part is we do this with the most affordable set of fees you will see around,” he continued.
Making Education Affordable
The Founder of the SIS Group of Schools is Jaspal Sidhu. Trained as an engineer, he spent most of his adult life working in Indonesia. Realizing the wide disparity between good, expensive schools and those at the other end of the pyramid, Jaspal decided his personal mission would be to make quality education affordable.
Jaspal also sits as an advisor to a public-private initiative that looks to improve the standards of Education in Indonesia. He regularly speaks at education and investment conferences, including those held in San Francisco, Singapore, Cape Town and Dubai.
His latest endeavours include a partnership with Deloitte looking to ways of training teachers from local communities. The unique model looks to ideas from outside the education industry.
Jaspal recently established the Inspirasi Schools. These would be established in smaller cities in developing countries for the aspirational class.
“SIS was established in 1996 with the support of respected individuals from the Singapore government and Raffles Institution. SIS subscribes to the Singapore education system because of its disciplined approach to educational pedagogy. It is also responsive to changes in the world. No wonder it ranks number one in the world, based on the latest PISA rankings. Today with our schools in almost all major cities in Indonesia and the region, we look to promote 21st-century skills in this unpredictable world. My dream is to make all SIS schools accessible to as many people as possible in this lovely archipelago,” Jaspal shares.