By Kang Shin-who
INCHEON ― Chadwick International, the first U.S. brand school in the Incheon Free Economic Zone, will make every effort to draw as many international students as possible to meet a mandatory quota on foreign pupils, despite the fact its headmaster sees the task as “difficult.”
Under the Free Economic Zone Law, international schools have to enroll non-Korean nationals accounting for 70 percent of the total students. The Korean government has given the school a five-year grace period to complete the requirement as fewer foreign students have so far moved into the special economic zone.
Ted Hill, headmaster of Chadwick School based in California, said the nation’s first-ever overseas school will attract international students here and abroad in order to meet the condition. The headmaster, who visited Korea this week for the fifth time, is the mastermind behind the 75-year-old school’s venture into Korea.
“I think the challenge is timing, quite honestly. The restriction of having a 70 percent international student body makes great sense in terms of truly international school and goals of having free economic zones,” Hill told The Korea Times in an exclusive interview at the Songdo school, Friday.
“To me, educationally, I have no problems with the 70:30 rule here because it fits what our school wants to be, but with a lag in economy, it may be difficult because of the five-year grace period. We will certainly do everything we can to make it,” he added. He was also pessimistic about the school’s financial status, saying Chadwick will obviously lose money in a few years and that financial support is necessary from the school owner, New Songdo International City Development (NSIC).
In an effort to make the school “truly international,” the school will build a dormitory so that it can draw foreign students from all around the country.
Particularly, the American headmaster believes the school’s membership in the “Round Square” schools will play a great role in its bid to draw the required number of international students. Hill noted the school can invite “students from all over the world” through the program.
He stressed the nearly 70 Round Square schools are “really” excellent and enable students to travel around the world. Therefore, the school is able to secure at least 70 international students from its partnership schools.
Those schools cooperate in three major fields: student conferences, student exchanges and community service programs, he said.
Regarding admissions, he pointed out three main criteria for the school’s hopefuls: English proficiency, academic ability and personality or social components. He said: “We are looking for students who are great people and who have outstanding potential both inside and outside the classroom.”
Also, he stood firm against hagwon or private cram schools that have mushroomed to help children get admission to the school. “It would be very hard to develop those qualities and aptitudes through study in hagwon,” he said. “We want to minimize the importance of cram schools in terms of admissions to Chadwick school.”
Lastly, Hill made it clear that he doesn’t have plans to expand the school to other regions in the country or other countries, as many British schools do.