Oldest international school promotes respect for other cultures

Jeddah prides itself on having many international communities that in the last few decades have become part of the social structure of Saudi Arabia. This has contributed enormously to the growth of the local economy.These communities have promoted the rise of many international schools that have built a bridge between the different cultures present in the Kingdom and the local heritage.

The Italian International School of Jeddah, the oldest international school in Saudi Arabia, was founded in 1966. The original idea was to meet the needs of the many Italian families present in the Kingdom during that period. Fifty-five years later, today, the school has students from many countries of the Mediterranean area. Thus being much more than a national school abroad it has embraced the need to serve the whole international community of Jeddah.The school promotes the values of understanding and respect for other cultures. While still following the programs and instructions of the Italian Ministry of Education, it operates autonomously and the curricula are open to elements of cultures of the Mediterranean area.The school is bilingual — English and Italian – with Arabic being taught as a third language. There are three levels of education: Kindergarten (3 – 5 years), Primary School (6 – 10 years), Secondary School 1* degree (11 – 13 years).

The school is a private, nonprofit, institution. It is financed by the Italian community with the help of Italian companies, and the support of Italian residents and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A Board of Directors, including a representative of the Consulate General of Italy, members of the largest contributor companies, and the pupils’ parents, manages this institution. The school is legally recognized by the Italian and Saudi authorities. The Italian International School prides itself on the excellence of results achieved by its students when moving back to their own countries as well as the main schools and universities in Italy, UK and USA.The teaching approach insists on a very family-oriented environment and a small number of children per class, thus allowing the teachers to enrich the program and to tailor it to each child’s full potential and aspirations. Each pupil’s individual strengths are carefully identified and encouraged. The education is fostered from within by connecting with each child.

The school is aware that the value of a bilingual and bicultural education goes well beyond the language. A bilingual education, within the context of a dynamic international community, will give the child a deep understanding and respect for other cultures and ways of thinking. In today’s global economy, those who embrace diversity of thought will have a multitude of opportunities available to them.Children, who are exposed to more than one language, have a higher capacity for foreign language learning as teens or adults.In addition to stretching their minds intellectually, learning two languages allows children to develop their understanding of people beyond their dominant culture.
The method selected to deliver the curriculum is based on language immersion principles and follows the one-person/one language approach, which requires each teacher to communicate with the children in only one language. This is to help children establish clear delineation between the two languages from the earliest stages.Since 1981, the Italian school is located in one of the most beautiful districts of the city, on the Corniche, and is able to accommodate up to 200 students. – Arabnews