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The Importance of Service Learning in a Holistic Education at AIS

“We want our students to grow up be really good leaders with a moral compass and purpose for the future. Service learning is a great way of helping them to develop these key attitudes and skills,” explains Australian International School (AIS) Executive Principal, Jon Standen.

An Emphasis on Holistic Education

On May 24, AIS will hold an Open Day for prospective families that includes an education forum titled: “Educating the Whole Child: Embracing Service Learning for a Brighter Future.” Saigoneer sat down with Jon to understand this topic better.

While achieving great exam scores and going on to a good university is important, a holistic education also aims to develop young adults to be well-rounded, self-motivated problem solvers who can lead with passion and empathy. Donating one’s time, skills and energy to those in need is an important element of holistic education. This service learning, along with regular coursework, arts and athletics empowers AIS students to grow emotionally and intellectually. The dedicated AIS team strives to ensure that graduates are able and interested in contributing to positive change in the world. “They develop their character and skills so when they graduate and leave the school they're set up for whatever challenges life brings,” Standon says.

Service Learning in Practice

“A key part of holistic education is service education; particularly in schools like ours where our students are quite privileged …  We want to ensure that they are well-rounded and grounded,” Standon says. Many formal and informal service opportunities are available for AIS students to help make this possible. For example, all Year Six students spend a week exploring a global or local issue and working together to find and present solutions as part of the Primary Years Program that prepares for the International Baccalaureate Degree Program (IBDP), which involves a comprehensive service element. 

AIS students are also closely involved with a local orphanage and can visit to help the children read or assist with painting, for example. This emphasis on service learning results in an easy-to-recognize mindset and outlook on the world. Standon notes that on the recent long holiday, a group of students were out of the city on a vacation and noticed the area was filled with trash. They proceeded to clean it up simply because it was the right thing to do and made their community a better place.

The upcoming Open Day forum will provide attendees with more examples of service learning and allow the senior leadership to expand upon its importance as part of a balanced, holistic education. The event will also allow parents to imagine the type of young adults their children may develop into because it’s being moderated by the school’s Head Boy and Head Girl. These two students have excelled not just academically but as leaders and community members. The careful questions they ask and the experiences they share will showcase the type of smart, kind and inquisitive graduates AIS is proud to send into the world. 

Upcoming Campus Enhancements to Support Holistic Education

In addition to service learning and a broad introduction to AIS’s educational philosophy, practices and standards, the school’s facilities will be on display for prospective families. Over the years, Saigoneer has observed many impressive developments to the Thủ Thiêm campus, including the introduction of boarding options, a new IBDP lab, redesigned reception, and updated sports facilities. But never one to rest on its accomplishments, new changes are underway at AIS.

As a member of the global Inspired Network of Schools, AIS benefits from powerful cross-cultural exchanges, partnerships, activities and training. The membership also helps facilitate campus improvements. This summer, the AIS’s two early-year campuses in Thảo Điền and its primary classrooms at the main campus in Thủ Thiêm which includes the secondary school will all be upgraded. State-of-the-art classroom facilities and science laboratories in addition to enhanced art and drama facilities, sports fields and playgrounds are all part of the ambitious plans that will be mostly complete when classes resume in fall 2024. These later elements reveal AIS’s belief that student development outside traditional coursework is essential for a balanced education.

The upcoming Open Day on May 24 is the first to include a forum discussion and also the first to be held on a weekday morning when school is in session. While potentially facilitating families with schedules that didn’t allow for them to come on weekends, it will showcase the school’s values, routines and Australian “give it a go” attitude. Observing classes, students engaged in arts, athletics and play as well as noticing how the staff supports and encourages leadership and strong community is the best way for families to envision what their child’s future can look like.

Register for the May 24 Open Morning here. Attendees will also have opportunities to learn about the 100% scholarships available for students from grade 7 to grade 12 and tuition fees waiving up to VND 16.3 million VND. Application fees are waived for those in attendance. 




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