Sri KDU International Smart School

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How do you get over 400 students when you don’t yet have a school? It is not that difficult when your reputation precedes you.

KDU has been a respected name and pioneer in education since 1983 when it opened the doors of its college. Nearly 30 years and 50,000 graduates later, KDU’s phenomenal growth includes the launch of its first private Smart School, Sekolah Sri KDU in 2003 which in itself has been so successful, its student population has increased from just over 500 students to 2300 in less than 10 years.

It is no wonder then that KDU’s newest educational venture, Sri KDU International School, has caused such an early and widespread stir.

KDU’s experience and reputation is impressively matched by Sri KDU International School’s new principal, Mark Curnane. Over the past 20 years he has been raising the game at schools around the world, including in Egypt, Thailand, Venezuela and in his native UK. He is pleased to have made the move to Malaysia (his wife and two children will be joining him closer to the start of the school year) because “Malaysia has always come across as a place Expats enjoy living in,” he says. In addition, his time in Thailand had already given him “a very positive feeling about this region.”

See Also: Smarter Education for Smarter Kids

More than the location, Mark is excited about this particular new school. Mark’s background is in IT so the idea of heading KDU’s newest Smart School was especially appealing. “I met with Dato’ Teo (KDU Executive Chairman Dato’ Teo Chiang Quan) and Datin Teh (KDU Smart Schools Chief Executive Officer Datin Teh Geok Lian) and was impressed by their vision and passion. I share their long-term goals,” says Mark.

As impressed as he was with their vision, they must have seen something similar in him. Mark sees the school as a vehicle, an opportunity, to drive his greatest passion: education. “It’s easy for me to get off the topic of the school and onto the importance of education,” he says, apologetically. However, these “tangents” he goes on during the interview are as revealing as the answers he gives to direct questions. Mark is knowledgeable in a number of topics that will make him even better at his job: The British curriculum (which Sri KDU International School will be teaching), what motivates students, what parents expect of a superior British education, leadership, teaching, child development, the social and emotional aspects of learning and much more.

For a principal who started working a year before the school is due to open, Mark has been extraordinarily busy. Primarily he has been building “a dedicated team of teachers and staff working hard in the interest of students.” Because of the overwhelming interest, the team will be larger than anyone expected it to be in such early days. It was expected that the school would open with a batch of about 300 students but eight months before the start of the first ever school term, 450 have already registered. At the time of this interview, Mark was preparing to travel to the UK to hire additional teachers. “We’ve had a huge number of people applying,” he says. “We’ve had to turn down some very good teachers.” The ones he has hand-selected are the best of the best and include a former Olympic champion. “They are all very eager and very keen.”

Spacewise, the school can accommodate about 1300 students but Mark sees the ideal number as closer to 900 to ensure that each student gets the individual attention Sri KDU promises and so he or she can enjoy the facilities to the fullest. Facilities include excellent sports facilities and an indoor amphitheatre. “Sri KDU has always done very well in the performing arts,” says Mark. “I have a lot to live up to.”

It is true that Sri KDU sets the bar high. It is also very apparent that Mark is up to the job.


This article was written by Amy De Kanter ([email protected])
Source The Expat Magazine April 2011

This article has been edited for

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