|SISD Building connections for life|
The Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai (SISD) is the emirate’s first multi-lingual school and will open its doors for students this coming September. In an exclusive interview with Capital Business, Omar Danial, Founder, SISD explains how the school is set to reflect Switzerland’s highly sophisticated and inclusive education system while developing a multilingual community.
What motivated you to establish the Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai?
I have always wanted to build a school, as I believe that education is at the core of everything, and investing in education is the key to a sustainable society. Dubai is a melting-pot of cultures and home to a diversity of expat families hailing from around the globe. Naturally with that comes a growing demand for great schools which reflect and bolster the cultural variety represented in the region. As a social entrepreneur, I wanted to make sure that our school not only addressed the academic and economic side of things, but that it also served a social, cultural and familial purpose. Dubai is home to a transient, international population, looking for international exposure and an international passport that will allow their children to integrate or re-integrate the international system in other countries. I myself am a father of six multi-lingual children, and this school was essentially built for them.
Did you get any endorsements from the Swiss governments to do this?
The right to use the ‘Swiss’ brand and its values, is defined by law in Switzerland, and requires the highest clearance from the Swiss Government. SISD introduces Swiss pedagogy to Dubai under two broad angles — linguistics, and the International Baccalaureate, invented in Geneva in 1968 for the same reasons that Dubai now needs it. The IB supports a global workforce, and results in families not having to change their children's curricula each time they move to a new country. This is one of the main reasons so many UAE expats also choose the program for their children.
How do you assess the education sector in Dubai?
The education sector in Dubai is as eclectic as its population. With more than 170 private schools, following a range of different curricula with a big price scale, parents in Dubai have the choice. The educational landscape plays a key role in strengthening social bonds and local identity in the UAE. In a constant growing sector, driven by the high demand of private schools from the expatriate community, we notice the creation of a competitive environment towards school rankings and academic excellence. There are students from more than 184 different nationalities in Dubai’s private schools, highlighting the diversity that comes with Dubai’s location at the crossroads of the East and the West. The parents are keen to pay high fees if their needs are fulfilled by the quality of education offered by the school.
What is the added value that SISD will bring to the education system here?
Dubai is turning into an educational “hub” of reference for the whole GCC region. SISD will be the first officially designated Swiss International school for the region, and will soon be the city’s second boarding school, when it welcomes its first boarders in 2017. We are also Dubai’s first ever private school to offer multi-lingual education in French, German, English and Arabic. The strong focus on a multi-lingual education is a welcome addition to Dubai, which is home to a large French and German community, and a growing number of Italians. Many families here are also mixed-nationality, so for many parents it is an attractive and valuable feature to immerse their children in an educational program like ours.
Students in the bilingual sets will be immersed in a progressive environment where they will study 50 percent of their time in English and 50 percent of their time in either French or German. Students in these sets will be able to qualify for the IB Bilingual Diploma during their final years at the school. The SISD IB program will mirror Switzerland’s highly sophisticated and inclusive education system, placing a strong emphasis on developing a multi-lingual school community across all year levels.
How do you plan to engage parents in this multicultural environment as well?
We believe in multilingualism, bi-literacy, and community as a way of life, and we feel deeply about the positive impact of robust multi-cultural disciplines on fostering academic excellence, cultural diversity and human values that position students to become life-long learners. Through various initiatives, programs and activities throughout the year we will actively encourage parents to participate, contribute and support the development of an all-inclusive, warm and rewarding school community. Our ultimate goal is to foster a flourishing community of global citizens that are inquisitive, active and compassionate learners, who contribute to a more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. Of course parental support and involvement is at the heart of this. SISD will be a place to build connections for life, celebrate achievements and have fun, for students and parents alike.
What are your plans for the scholar year 2015 / 2016?
We are concentrating in making the first year of operations successful. In terms of students, we have reached our target of 25% of the school’s capacity for the first ever intake. Our priority is to ensure that the service we provide our students and parents meets their expectations!
We are committed to seeing that SISD performs as one of the best schools in town in terms of curriculum, after-school activities and personal development. We are committed to shaping the well-rounded global citizens of tomorrow by focusing our efforts on academic excellence and language acquisition. We will also be developing the language department with the opening of one new language section.
Our stunning sports facilities will open in the early summer of 2016 and will contain an Olympic sized swimming pool, full sized football/rugby field, outdoor and indoor running tracks, 3 tennis courts, a climbing wall and two multi-sport halls for children to excel the art of sport. We will also be the first Dubai school with our own boat house thanks to our prime waterfront location being adjacent to the Creek, and will offer sailing, paddle boarding and kayaking during the first year.
About Omar Danial
Omar Danial is the Founder of Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai. He is the President and major shareholder of Finial Capital, a private investment company based in Geneva, Switzerland. He has been in Dubai since 2010 where he established Swiss International Management Consultants.
Omar has been involved in teaching entrepreneurial classes at high-school level and created a prize for Creative Entrepreneurship to promote the spirit of enterprise among the learners of Florimont, their capacity to think up and carry out a project through to its completion, and their ability to confront the organizational and economic realities of our time.
He has personally created and funded numerous scholarships for Academic Excellence and Equal opportunity at the undergraduate and graduate level. Moreover, Omar serves on the WSBT Advisory Board (Webster University Advisory Board) in St Louis, Missouri, USA.
He holds an MBA and a B.Sc. in business, marketing and sociology from the Webster University in Geneva. He is an IB Diploma Program Category 1 and 2 certified Administrator.
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