The Singapore international school with a strong heritage and genuine charity: GEMS World Academy

We take a look at GEMS’ global education history and the positive impact it aims to have on society, finding there’s a lot more to this school than meets the eye.

You might expect it to be difficult to find an international school in Singapore that boasts a long and illustrious heritage, given the relatively young age of our Little Red Dot. You might also assume that the only people to benefit from such a heritage would be those whose children totter off to school there every day. But, when you scratch the surface, you’ll find that GEMS World Academy, one of Singapore’s leading international schools, is part of a global education powerhouse with a generous heart.

On the surface, GEMS World Academy (GWA) in Singapore is an impressive educational institution with outstanding facilities and passionate teaching staff. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that it’s part of GEMS Education, which is widely considered to be the world leader in Kindergarten to Grade 12 education. GEMS Education was established almost 60 years ago by a teaching couple in Dubai, and their son, Sunny Varkey, has since built the network up to 85 schools in 13 countries, teaching 250,000 students from 151 nations across the world. These are some impressive numbers!

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The Global Teacher Prize award ceremony.

While we’re on high-five-worthy facts, the GEMS leadership team packs a serious punch with its education credentials: Tony Little, the Chief Academic Officer, was Headmaster of Eton College in the UK for more than 10 years, and the Group Director of Innovation, Jeffrey Beard, was Director General of the International Baccalaureate (IB) for eight years before joining GEMS. Their mission in their respective roles at GEMS is to provide quality education to everyone.

To achieve this mission, the GEMS philosophy is underpinned by the Varkey Foundation: a not-for-profit organisation that was established to improve the standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world. Their belief is that every child should have a great teacher, so they focus on building teacher capacity, running advocacy campaigns, and providing grants to those who offer innovative solutions to education problems. We think the best part is that for every student enrolled in a GEMS school across the world, the Varkey Foundation aims to provide free education to 100 kids in third world countries. Not only that, last year Sunny Varkey pledged at least half of all his wealth to charity through the Giving Pledge, a wealth distribution initiative created by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Actors Matthew McConaughey and Abhishek Bachchan show their support for the Global Teacher Prize.

Actors Matthew McConaughey and Abhishek Bachchan show their support for the Global Teacher Prize.

If you think that sounds great but you’d like more evidence of GEMS’ generous and positive intentions, consider this: in a bid to raise the status of teaching in the global community, the Varkey Foundation also offers the Global Teacher Prize. It’s hard to believe, but they actually award $1 million every year to an exceptional teacher who’s made an outstanding contribution to their profession. The 2016 Prize was won by a Palestinian teacher who takes an anti-violence approach to teaching in this troubled region, and has developed her own specialist technique and book. What an amazing way to recognise the over-and-above efforts of under-recognised teachers around the world!

If you’d like to learn more about life at GEMS, read what a happy parent recently had to say about her children’s transition to the school here.

GEMS World Academy (Singapore), 2 Yishun St 42, Singapore 768039

This post is sponsored by GEMS World Academy.