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JIS Prepares 21st-Century Learners for a Globalised Future

JIS Class of 2020

Jakarta Intercultural School stays committed to fostering a rigorous learning environment in which students can thrive.

As schools around the world prepare for a new academic year in a post-pandemic world, many are also examining their methodologies and whether they are doing enough to prepare students for university and beyond in the new normal.

At Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), the sudden shifting to home online learning challenged Class of 2020 graduates to tap into the vast skills they’ve cultivated and saw them adjust to the change with confidence and resilience, said JIS Head of School Dr Tarek Razik.

“The second half of their senior year was essentially shattered. The final, defining projects and exams of their high school experience – the culmination of four years of hard work – hung in the balance,” Razik recalled.

“But the digitally savvy Class of 2020 was the quickest to adjust to the online shift. They took action, wasted no time connecting with their teachers and advisors, then completed all outstanding assignments and exams on time.”

He joked that while he would love to take credit for their perseverance and initiative to take charge of their final academic achievements in high school, it was all a testament to JIS’ expansive inquiry-based approach to fostering critical thinkers and 21st-Century learners.

Razik was referring to a teaching methodology that aims to prepare students for a constantly changing digital landscape and job market with 21st-Century skills. These are critical thinking, information literacy, communication, leadership, productivity, creativity, collaboration, media literacy, technology literacy, flexibility, initiative and social skills.

Established in 1951, JIS has been at the regional forefront of international education for decades. The school now uses a combination of globally recognised academic methodologies to provide high-quality education for children aged three to 18.

The JIS High School program, which covers Grades 9 to 12, is designed to prepare students for life after graduation. Equal emphasis is placed on academics, the creative arts, sports, technology and service-learning, encompassing a range of skills and competencies for well-rounded growth.

According to JIS High School Vice Principal Ryan Campbell, students are prepared to thrive both in and outside the classroom as early as the ninth grade by being given a vast variety of course options to choose from, increased independence through an honour pass system (a period of free time each day in addition to breaks) and the tools for self-advocacy.

“This carefully structured pathway towards university means that as a student progresses through high school, they are growing as an independent individual,” he explained.

“This increased freedom comes alongside increased responsibility and we find that our emphasis on service learning and thinking of others is another vital part of helping students develop the maturity they will need for success at university and in adult life.”

In 11th and 12th Grades, students get to focus on their passion and aspirations for their future careers by specialising in a specific set of subjects. This is where the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) programs come in. Both academically rigorous and forward-looking, JIS’ IB and AP curriculums prepare students to be inquisitive critical thinkers more than capable of tackling the demands of university study.

JIS is one of the few schools in Southeast Asia to offer both, and its participating students have consistently shown above average results in final IB and AP exams. This year’s IB results have already been released, showing a 98.3 percent passing rate for JIS students, with three Class of 2020 graduates achieving a near-perfect score of 44 out of 45.

Providing guidance and making sure students get the tailored advice they need to meet their academic goals for university are JIS’s High School Counsellors. As part of a comprehensive counselling program, they begin working with students and families in Grade 9 on wrap-around support and academic planning, explained JIS High School Counsellor Heather DeVore.

“This means that counsellors get to know students and families well over time and are well equipped to guide students through the university process,” she said.

“We use career and strength assessments, individual meetings and a series of lessons to help students understand university programs and expectations around the world and how these universities could be a fit for their needs.”

A major part of the counselling department’s commitment to connecting JIS students with higher education institutions from around the world is inviting representatives for in-person and online visits. Between 250 and 300 universities take part in these meet-ups each year, with a majority coming directly to the JIS High School campus to present their various programs. This is all to ensure that students can make confident, informed decisions about their academic direction after graduating from JIS.

“JIS is very well known and respected within the higher education community, and this ongoing relationship results in a rich and diverse experience for students and their parents as they advance through high school at JIS,” DeVore added.

About half of JIS graduates go on to attend universities in the United States, including Harvard University, Pepperdine University, University of California-Berkeley, and Cornell University. Roughly 10 percent go on to study in South Korea, including Seoul National University, Yonsei University, and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), while another 10 percent go to the United Kingdom and Canada, and the remainder to countries like the Netherlands, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.


This year, six students from the JIS Class of 2020 will be studying at Ivy League schools. Recent JIS graduate Manuela, who plans to earn a dual degree at Harvard University studying molecular biology and computer science, which are two of her passions, described her time at JIS as empowering, challenging, and full of opportunities, saying that JIS encouraged her to “seize all the challenges and opportunities [she] encountered these past 15 years.”

“JIS has prepared me for university in various ways. For starters, regarding the university application process, JIS gave me the tools, through my counsellor, to feel beyond supported, understood and guided throughout,” she said.

JIS has also taught me to be resilient and resourceful, and value balance and fun, all which I believe are important skills needed for not only university but also life beyond school.”

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