The United World College of South East Asia (Abbreviation: UWCSEA) is an independent international school in Singapore. With around 3,200 students, UWCSEA is the largest of the 12 schools which form the international United World College (UWC) movement, founded by the German educationlist Kurt Hahn with the mission of bringing together students from all over the world and developing them as truly global citizens.
UWCSEA is somewhat different from many of its sister colleges in the UWC movement, most of which are wholly boarding institutions which offer only a two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme for mainly scholarship students of around 16-18 years of age. Since its founding, UWCSEA has offered full secondary school education. In the late 1990s the school expanded further and now also offers primary education. While the majority of students are children of expatriates in Singapore, there are also many boarders either from neighbouring countries, such as Malaysia, or the children of expatriates living there. A small percentage of the students at the College come on scholarships from a range of nations such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Italy, Mexico, East Timor, Germany and Swaziland. As a result, unlike most of the schools in the UWC movement, the vast majority of the students are fee-paying students. Critics have said this undermines the school's commitment to the larger UWC movement. Singapore government policy prevents most citizens from attending international schools within the country, and therefore UWCSEA has the smallest percentage of local students of any UWC.
Being part of the UWC movement, the College prides itself on its international nature with students from over 60 different countries. Moreover, the school takes advantage of this diversity and strives to provide a holistic educational approach. Traditionally, most of staff have been from English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as from Singapore itself, but there are now also teachers from countries as varied as South Africa, Japan and Bulgaria.
UWCSEA not only encourages the development of well rounded students who are committed to social service, but also maintains a strong academic reputation, with very high annual pass rates for GCSE and IB examinations.
The school's campus is located at Dover Road, in the Singapore neighbourhood of Dover. In 2007, the school announced that it will opening a second campus in Singapore in 2010 to help meet increasing demand for places from the expatriate community. The second campus will be in Tampines and, like the existing campus, will be a full primary and secondary school.
The Good Schools Guide International recently reviewed the school, stating "This school has a deservedly good reputation academically but offers far more than exam success to its students." It added, "This is not a school for those who would be happy to sit on the sidelines or for those with substantial educational needs.
The parties came to an agreement, and in 1971 the Singapore International School was officially opened by the then Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew. The school was designated an associate member of the United World College movement. It subsequently became of full member of the movement and was officially renamed the United World College of South East Asia in 1975.
United Nations Day is a major event celebrated at the school each year through cultural performances and an elaborate international food fair. This event serves to increase awareness about the varied cultures within the college and brings the school population together. Also, within Singapore, UWCSEA is well known for its annual Arts Festival. Every year the school puts on a wide and culturally-diverse range of drama and dance productions, music concerts, art exhibitions, and other events to celebrate the arts.
Expeditions out of Singapore are a major emphasis of the school. Most students aged 9 and above are involved in overseas expeditions as part of the school's curriculum. Grade 11 students also have the chance to organize their own expeditions and projects under a budget during the Project Week. During the week they can participate in a variety of activities in the country of destination. Projects include building houses, trekking and visiting orphanages.
Students at the school are also involved in a wide variety of social service projects, working with many organizations that help the disadvantaged communities in Singapore.
The school has a wide range of sports facilities such as an Olympic sized swimming pool and training pool, Astro Turf and two grass pitches, tennis courts, two sports halls with basketball/volleyball courts and a gymnasium and fitness centre. It maintains teams in many sports including tennis, netball, rugby union, badminton, basketball, swimming, football, gymnastics and cricket however there is also the opportunity for students to participate in other sporting activities run by staff such as kickboxing, golf, sailing and canoeing.
Competitively, the school has also acquired a strong reputation on Singapore's inter-school debating circuit in recent years. In 2007, the school's team won The Arena – a nationally-televised debate tournament in Singapore.
UWCSEA also has a strong music department and hence there are various musical ensembles that students can join. The Band (All instruments), Percussion Ensemble, the Camerata (strings), the Symphonic band and the Jazz band as well as the orchestra and the different choir groups are all available for participation from all students, however for some auditions are required.
The school's drama department is also strong, and each year a number of high-quality plays are performed utilising the school's extensive theatrical resources.
Seating Areas: The grade 12 seating areas are an unwritten rule. Situated under the English block, students wait many years to ascend to these areas and they are the centre of the Leavers' Week celebrations.
UN Night Gumboot Dance: Another traditional dance from the mines of South Africa, this dance has been performed without fail at every UN Night for over 15 years. It is a percussive dance, established by mine workers to keep up morale during the times of hard labour.