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New ISHCMC Campus Propels Saigon’s First International School into the Future

Upon opening in 1993 ISHCMC, or the International School of Ho Chi Minh City, became the first such school in Saigon. Though it is the oldest international school in the city it is also the most innovative, as evidenced by a new campus that will open later this year.

The 21st century learning approach is key at the school, where traditional methods of teaching are blended with teaching strategies that have a high effect on learning. For decades, or centuries even, classrooms have consisted of a teacher standing at the head of the room directing students. 

ISHCMC, on the other hand, pursues self-directed learning, where students are taught to inquire and ask questions that might go beyond the knowledge of their teacher. This allows students to investigate content on their own and come to a deeper understanding of it.

Adrian Watts, head of school at ISHCMC, explains that “following this method, students can obtain mastery of subjects, whereas traditional classrooms limit learning to what the teacher wants students to know, not what they want to discover. Self-directed learning pushes students to truly think out-of-the-box while at school.”

ISHCMC is currently building a new, state-of-the-art secondary campus in Thao Dien that fully embraces this 21st century learning method. The school will feature cutting-edge facilities that let students access learning everywhere in the school. This is in line with the school’s goal to progress education far beyond its traditional system.

The campus features an array of ingenious designs which allow students to engage in learning wherever they are. For example, the corridors are lined with break-out spaces where children can sit and talk, while amphitheaters can be pulled out and the walls can be written on. This creates spaces where students can constantly record and share what they have learned.

The secondary school will also house the first innovation center in Vietnam, which will be based on the digital concept of crowdsourcing. This unique open space will give students the freedom to brainstorm anything they come up with.

The area will act a brain box where learners can let their imagination and creativity run wild. Once ideas are formed into solid concepts at the innovate space, students can move on to the technology and maker spaces equipped with 3D printers and other devices. This lets them turn conceptual ideas into real-world products and solutions.

Other facilities such as an organic garden and food technology center will provide further learning experiences, while environmental amenities like purified air pumped throughout the building help create a healthy school setting.

Michael Drake, CEO of Cognita Asia, which operates the school, said “I am delighted to see the exciting expansion of the famous ISHCMC brand in Ho Chi Minh City with the upcoming opening of the new second campus. ISHCMC is synonymous with delivering high levels of academic achievement and this is also at the heart of what Cognita Schools seeks to achieve around the world. ISHCMC is certainly staying true to the Cognita vision of ‘Inspiring children to achieve more than they believe possible’.”

The forward-looking campus aligns perfectly with ISHCMC’s ambitious educational philosophy. An education revolution is taking place around the world, and the school is on the cutting edge of this wave. Students aren’t turned into cogs in a compliant workforce; instead they are pushed to become creative, innovate individuals who can think differently.

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