United Nations International School of Hanoi: Empowering Students to Become Global Citizens

United Nations International School of Hanoi
United Nations International School of Hanoi

A quality school with a modern curriculum is instrumental in shaping students into well-rounded individuals who are ready to tackle the challenges of the future. The IB curriculum is designed to foster critical thinking, creativity, effective communication, and collaboration skills, which are crucial in today’s rapidly evolving global landscape. Students who graduate from an IB school are well-equipped to meet the demands of higher education and the workforce, with a strong foundation in problem-solving, adaptability, and a commitment to lifelong learning.

United Nations International School of Hanoi (UNIS) is one such exemplary IB school that prioritizes holistic education and prepares students to excel academically and personally while making a positive impact on the world. As an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, UNIS Hanoi is committed to delivering a rigorous and challenging education that prepares students to become responsible and active global citizens.

The Remarkable Journey

UNIS Hanoi has come a long way since it first opened its doors in 1988. From a borrowed classroom with only four students and a single teacher from UNIS New York, the school has transformed into a purpose-built campus that welcomes the world daily. For over three decades, UNIS Hanoi has been the school of choice in Vietnam.

The school’s founding purpose was to provide an international education for the children of UN employees, diplomats, and foreign investors, in support of Vietnam’s economic growth. In 1992, the Swedish School in Hanoi merged with UNIS Hanoi, bringing in over 300 elementary school-age students. UNIS Hanoi continued to expand with the creation of a Middle School in 1997 and a High School soon after, with the first graduating class in 1999.

As one of only two United Nations international schools in the world, UNIS Hanoi’s pedagogical philosophy is guided by the values and principles of the UN. It was accredited as the first three-programme International Baccalaureate School in Asia, a natural fit for its mission.

In 2004, the UNIS Hanoi campus in Ciputra was opened, finally providing a ‘forever home’ for the school on 9.2 hectares of land. Since then, the campus has been continuously developed to include a swimming pool, playing fields, playgrounds, a Centre for Arts, and an extensive Sports Centre.

UNIS Hanoi is a not-for-profit, coeducational English-language day school that welcomes children from Early Years (3-year-olds) through to Grade 12. With almost 1200 students from almost 65 countries, UNIS Hanoi is the most diverse and prestigious international school in Hanoi, with a record of unrivalled academic results.

Empowering Agents of Change

The vision of UNIS Hanoi is to be an inspiring role model for a better world, which is the driving force behind the school’s mission to empower students to strive for academic and personal excellence, guided by UN values. The school’s six core values, which include community, integrity, courage, diversity, responsibility, and curiosity, form the foundation of all its programs and ensure that every student is supported to reach their full potential.

As an inclusive school, UNIS Hanoi aims to provide a sense of personal belonging for all members of its community. This inclusivity is reflected in the school’s open admissions policy and inclusive International Baccalaureate Diploma philosophy, which is designed to empower every student for success.

To ensure its continued success, UNIS Hanoi has developed Strategy 2024, a plan that guides the school’s agility and focuses on delivering the highest quality service to its learning community. The school is everevolving, but its passion for nurturing and equipping students to be agents of change for a better world remains at the heart of all that it does.

The Lifelong Educator

Jane McGee’s lifelong passion for education has led her to become an internationally renowned educator and the Head of School at UNIS Hanoi since 2018. With an M.Ed in Administration and Policy, a B.Ed in Intermediate/Senior Math and Science, and a B.Sc in Mathematics from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, Jane began her career as a Mathematics teacher in international schools in Rome, Cairo, and Bangkok.

Jane’s leadership has been invaluable to the success of UNIS Hanoi, especially during the adversity of Covid. As the premier school in Hanoi and Vietnam, Jane’s guidance and support were sought by all stakeholders as the school navigated through this challenging time. Despite the difficulties, the school prioritized ensuring the same excellent online education level for students. Prior to joining UNIS, Jane held various positions in international schools, including Director of Vientiane International School, Laos, from 2015 – 2018, High School Principal at the American School of Warsaw, and Assistant Superintendent at the American School of Bombay.

A Legacy of Partnership and Innovation

UNIS Hanoi was established through a unique partnership between the United Nations and the Vietnamese Government to support Vietnam’s rapid development into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. For over 35 years, the school has remained committed to its vision and values, embracing challenges with innovation and partnership.

UNIS Hanoi’s approach to education has been characterized by risk-taking, innovation, and a commitment to principled, balanced excellence, which led to it becoming the first three-programmed IB school in Asia. Through decades of exponential growth, UNIS Hanoi has continued to ensure that its learning environment meets the ambitions of its educators and its community.

Professional development has been another key pillar of UNIS Hanoi’s success, enabling its teachers to remain at the forefront of best practices and making the school an attractive destination for top educators. In addition, the school has actively shared its expertise with local colleagues, benefiting the extended community.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, UNIS Hanoi’s exceptional teaching faculty, growth mindset, and caring community enabled the school to pivot seamlessly to online learning, delivering outstanding results that were above the world average. The graduating class of 2022, which spent most of its high school years in distance learning, achieved excellent IB Diploma results, with 30 percent of the cohort scoring 40+ and one perfect score.

As Hanoi’s independent education sector continues to grow, UNIS Hanoi welcomes increased opportunities for parents to invest in their children’s futures with options in education. The school’s largest challenge has been the high level of demand for places far outstripping its capacity, but it is delighted that the Vietnamese Government is supporting its strategic desire for expansion.

With its strong vision, commitment to partnership and innovation, and unique position as the only non-profit international school in Hanoi, UNIS Hanoi’s legacy of excellence in education is set to continue for many years to come.

Leading the Way in Innovative Education for a Sustainable Future

UNIS Hanoi is a leading educational institution that combines the International Baccalaureate’s pedagogical framework with rigorous and forward-thinking curriculums for its Primary and Middle Years Programmes. The school’s international standardized test results validate its programs, with every grade scoring higher than both regional and international competitors.

The school has also embedded the IB’s commitment to Service Learning into its all-school curriculum, providing students with opportunities to develop empathy and compassion while positively impacting their communities.

As one of only two United Nations international schools in the world, UNIS Hanoi has taken an important role supporting the UN’s 2030 Agenda through its Sustainable Development Goals. The school has integrated the SDGs into its curriculum and has led professional development initiatives locally and globally to encourage other schools to adopt this transformative approach to education.

The school also uses digital learning to support students’ development of their learning approaches, helping them become critical thinkers and researchers with strong self-management skills.

Additionally, UNIS Hanoi offers optional passion pursuit subject blocks in both Elementary School and Secondary School, where students can learn about coding, robotics, and digital film production and development.

Holistic Approach to Education

True to its vision, UNIS Hanoi has facilitated multiple workshops, conferences, and resources to ensure partnership with local and global educators as it navigates online learning together for every child’s success. The school’s commitment to excellence, innovation, and community makes it a beacon of educational leadership in the region and beyond.

UNIS Hanoi is committed to providing its students with the necessary tools and skills to prepare them for future challenges. The school offers a diverse range of academic subjects and co-curricular programs, including Film, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts. These programs help students develop a broad skill set, equipping them to meet the demands of the twenty-first century.

One unique aspect of UNIS Hanoi is its emphasis on Homebase and its mentoring program. This program ensures that all students receive the social and emotional support they need to develop as lifelong learners. This year, the school is also introducing Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to coordinate existing structures for meeting individual learning needs.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are integrated into teaching units for all students, providing opportunities to apply their learning in the context of global challenges. The school’s Service Learning program also fosters engagement with the SDGs, while the week leading up to UN Day is dedicated to celebrating the goals.

Connecting Students to the Global Community

As an IB school, UNIS Hanoi is dedicated to providing its students with a holistic education that prepares them for the challenges of the modern world. Through its unique curricular connections to the Sustainable Development Goals and its relationship with the UN, the school encourages students to think globally and make authentic connections with communities around the world.

UNIS Hanoi’s dedication to diversity and inclusion is reflected in its intentional recruitment of a diverse student body and its focus on supporting students’ social and emotional development through homebase and mentoring programs. The school’s commitment to student agency is demonstrated through its support of Student Initiated Projects and Model United Nations programs.

UNIS Hanoi’s achievements include authorization by the Ministry of Education in Vietnam, accreditation by the Council of International Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and recognition as the winner of the prestigious CASE Circle of Excellence 2022 – Best of Asia-Pacific Awards for Targeted Constituency Engagement.

Looking to the future, UNIS Hanoi remains committed to innovation and growth. Its Campus Development Plan, Experiential Learning Programme, Mentoring, and Work Experience Programs are just a few examples of how the school is evolving to ensure that its students receive the best possible preparation for their futures.

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