Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Canadian school’s new campus to open in 2011

THE Canadian International School (CIS) here has unveiled the partner financing its new $140 million campus in Jurong West.

It is Singapore-based private education provider Knowledge Universe, which has more than 350,000 students in its institutions worldwide, including 8,500 in its 41 institutions here, which are mostly preschools.

The injection of funds will give Knowledge Universe a majority stake in CIS, the founders of which will continue to manage the school while retaining a significant equity stake, said CIS founder and managing director Thomas Tang.

The new campus can accommodate up to 3,300 students when it reaches full capacity in 10 years.

Spread over 43,000 sq m, it will have state-of-the-art classrooms, sporting complexes, outdoor play facilities, as well as a performing arts and fine arts centre, an auditorium and a media centre.

Estimated to be completed by August next year, the new campus will consolidate the school’s current Toh Tuck, Bukit Tinggi and Kampong Bahru campuses. The school’s East Coast campus in Tanjong Katong will stay put, as it was recently renovated.

The school, which is not funded by the Canadian government, has 1,900 students across its campuses now.

The new campus almost could not materialise, a victim of the global financial crisis. The school ran into difficulties raising funds, and construction stalled in October 2008.

It was supposed to have opened in February last year, and when it became clear this was not going to happen, parents were thrust into uncertainty, unsure about whether they should keep their children there.

Ms Elizabeth Duke, whose sons are in Grades 3 and 5 in the school, said: ‘I know parents who have moved their children out, which affects me because my sons lose their friends.’

CIS head Glenn Odland said the school cast around for potential partners, and picked Knowledge Universe after rigorous evaluation.

‘We decided that Knowledge Universe offered the best fit for our school and our community,’ he said.

Mr Tang said both parties have been thoughtful and prudent in considering how the partnership should be structured to ensure maximum benefits for the students.

The unveiling of Knowledge Universe as the school’s partner comes nine months after CIS said it had secured financing from a partner it did not name.

Dr Odland said: ‘As a school, we recognise that many members of our community have experienced anxiety as a result of the delays in the Jurong project, and we are extremely pleased that we can now move forward.’

Ms Duke said she hoped that parents who were uncertain would now be persuaded to keep their children in CIS.

Referring to the August 2011 opening date, she said it was just one more school year away, which ‘will be tolerable to parents, and we’ll be able to maintain our strong community’.

Source: Straits Times, 16 Mar 2010

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