By Daniel Tay

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SINGAPORE - The blessing and inaugural assembly of St. Joseph's Institution (SJI) International "marked a new chapter of SJI and Lasallian education in Singapore", said Lawrence da Silva, Chairman of the SJI Board of Governors.

The school was blessed by Msgr Eugene Vaz at its current location at 490 Thomson Road. The 116 students and their teachers will be at this holding area until the new premises are completed later this year. By next academic year 2008, they will be housed in the new buildings.

Above, Philip Yeo, Chairman of the SJI International Leadership Council, delivers his speech to the 230 people present for the inaugural assembly.

Guest-of-honour Philip Yeo, in his speech, thanked Principal Andrew Bennett for building "a highly credible academic team" with "tremendous experience" in international education. Mr Yeo is chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and chairman of the SJI International Leadership Council.

The school currently employs a principal, nine full-time teachers, and four part-time teachers, with half the staff being foreigners, and most of the Singaporean teachers having international school experience.

"Singapore cannot afford to have its best and brightest schooled only in a few top schools and within the same system of education," said Mr Yeo. He hopes that by "nurturing a diversity of talents among our young people", the Singapore society will be better able "to adapt and thrive in our rapidly changing globalized world".

"I am confident that like SJI, SJI International can play an important role in developing future leaders of Singapore and the region," he said. "In this regard, I would encourage parents to take that bold step, out of our familiar education system, to send their sons and daughters to different types of schools like SJI International."

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The SJI Board of Governors is currently working towards three initiatives:

  • to establish a foreign system primary school which will be used as a conduit for students from international backgrounds to enter the school;

  • to convert its current rental agreement into a land lease agreement; and

  • to convert one of the blocks in the present school into a boarding house that will hold up to 100 persons from the region.

SJI International is currently seeking authorization to conduct the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme for post-secondary students commencing 2008. The IB diploma is an alternative to the GCE 'A' Level qualification offered by junior colleges and is widely recognized by top universities worldwide.

Promising students will be able to compete for a limited number of post-secondary scholarships at SJI International in 2008. There will be 20 Leadership Council scholarships for Secondary Four students of SJI. For other students, there will be up to 30 scholarships open to Singapore residents, and another 15 scholarships for students from the region. These scholarships will be awarded in the second half of this year - before the 'O' Level results - and based on the student's leadership qualities, past academic and Co-Curricular Activities performance.

Mr Yeo also suggested two ways in which the Leadership Council and other SJI old boys can support both SJI and SJI International. The first is that old boys, with their vast experiences, varied backgrounds, and significant achievements, should continue to provide advice and help to the two schools, should the need arise.

Second, they can help to prepare SJI and SJI International students for the real world through giving career talks, sharing life experiences, and providing mentorship and work attachments.

"Like SJI, SJI International seeks to nurture good citizens and future leaders," concluded Mr Yeo. "To this end, SJI International will provide a solid values-centred, broad-based, internationally- oriented Catholic education for students from Singapore and the region."

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