JEDDAH, 17 March 2005 — Two more schools for Filipino students are opening in Jeddah this year, raising hopes that the quality of education would improve further as competition gets tighter.
One of the new schools is named Gem International School and its campus is located near Al-Maktaba on Sitteen Street.
Arab News learned that Gem is an extension of the existing Al Hekma International School (AHIS), which is sponsored by Hassan Binamin.
The other new school is an extension of one of the Filipino schools in Riyadh. Arab News has been asked to withhold its name for suspense purposes.
“We want to surprise Filipino residents with the coming of our school in Jeddah,” said the school official, who also asked not to be named.
Both schools have started accepting enrollees and reservations for the academic year 2005-2006. Classes for this year will start on June 4.
Filipino parents and students welcomed the news with a sigh of relief when Gem principal and veteran teacher Violeta Castillo made the announcement last week. Castillo said more than 50 children, so far, have signed up. Most of them are from other schools.
A parent of three, who does not want to be identified, said her children were among those who are joining Gem. “My children want to try and see for themselves what this new school has to offer,” said the parent, who did not want to name her kids’ old school “so as not to ruffle feathers.”
The four existing schools in Jeddah are the International Philippine School in Jeddah (IPSJ), Al Bader International School (ABIS) Sunrise International School (SIS) and AHIS.
AHIS, ABIS and SIS are all offshoots of the IPSJ, the oldest school organized by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs to serve Filipino children overseas.
Despite perennial infighting among parents for control of the school, the IPSJ has remained the largest Filipino school abroad, with an average student population of over 1,000.
It is not known which of the four existing schools would be affected by the entry of the two new ones.
While the newcomers were welcomed by many parents, there were those who worry about moving their students from one school to another.
Daisy Casuyon, a mother of two, said: “We are about to witness a circus and musical chair game where teachers are jumping from one school to another. So what’s new with that?”
She added: “What we need is a school with dedicated teachers and board officials to ensure that our children get the much-needed quality of education.”
Worried of Gem being compared to other existing schools, Castillo, a math teacher, said: “We are determined to give quality education by hiring qualified and competent teachers.”
Among the amenities being offered is a science laboratory and a separate computer lab for elementary and high school students.
Books and tuition fees are patterned after the existing schools, which is SR4,000 plus SR300 miscellaneous with a one-time registration fee of SR200.
Castillo said Gem has accomplished all documents required by the Saudi Ministry of Education and is applying for accreditation with the Department of Education in Manila.
As the school building on Sitteen is being renovated, Castillo said they are temporarily holding office at AHIS, with contact numbers 05027-35922, 664-5055 or 665-9959.