Founded in 2001, Ichthus Schools, Jakarta, Indonesia is a leading Christian that has organically grown grade by grade to be the widely regarded as one of the leading international schools in Jakarta. The school has two two campuses, Ichthus School, Jakarta – South located in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, and Ichthus School, Jakarta – West, located in Kebon Jeruk , West Jakarta, providing classes from primary level to pre-university level (A level). What’s New Jakarta recently had a chat with Mrs. Suparno, the founder, to know more about the school.
Thank you for sparing the time for us. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your school, Ichthus School, and when did you decide on starting the school?
Thank you for coming to our school! Starting Ichthus School wasn’t a spontaneous thing for us. It has been a journey of thinking and praying. As you know we have the Kinderland preschool, we started with that. And parents had been asking us, what’s next after Kinderland? I have been in the school board of other schools, so I know how different it is starting a primary and preschool. It is a commitment, and I want to see the school commit to at least 50 years. We and family prayed about it, for 3 years, before we even started. And only after God gave us the peace, that we start the school. At that time, we only had 14 children in the west.
What was your vision of the school and on education?
We prayed and asked God what would it look like, what it would entail, what would be the vision of the school? In our heart we want to see transformation in Indonesian children. We want to see people of integrity, who loves God, and righteous. How can we go about doing that? Many good values in the bible has helped us, such as good, kindness, love, self-control, gentleness.
For me, education is not only about academic, but character building. The whole notion about education is trading our brain to think and to ask questions, to discover things yourself, and at the end of the day to be able to make good decisions. Right and good decisions that would contribute back to society. My hope is for the children when they grow up, to become contributors that would impact their society, the nation, and the world. For them to make good policies, and treat people right.
This is why we went with Christian school, because I had a foundation that I can share with them. Because the school can teach the children up to a certain grade, but after that when they go back to society, they have to decide. That’s why I believe that Ichthus School is like a cornerstone for the students, so they can blossom and become fruitful to society.
In our curriculum, in the beginning it is more knowledge-based, but with time as they grow up, it’s going to be more enquiry-based. Because the children must own the information, and we want to give them a safe place for them to ‘disagree’ and ‘argue’.
It is interesting that you mention the different needs of children. What do you do when certain kids are absorbing not as quickly compared to their class mates?
There are many methodologies on that. Currently what we have is remedial, teachers identify. Children may be strong at certain areas, and weak at others. Some students would need more structure, some will need more questioning. But all these are pedagogy tools to help each child. But if we believe that each child is different, then the way you teach will be different.
What are strengths of Ichthus compared to other schools?
The parents always say that our children’s English level is very good, and that the way they speak is different; they are more polite. Another one is their thinking patterns; the way they make decisions. There are so many vices outside, and to discern what to say and what not to say, so when you have character building at the school, what they say makes a difference.
How do you instill the values that you’ve mentioned earlier?
Like what Hillary Clinton said; It takes a village to educate a child. It is not just the teachers, but all of us. If someone is being kind to you, you start to understand what it means. But if a child never experiences it, how would he know? We have a pedagogy model that goes: Knowledge and Experimental that goes hand in hand. From what the teacher teaches, it goes to your head, to your heart, it needs to flow to your hand, until it finally flows to other people. Education is not easy because it is affected by so many variables. We need every single part of the school to be helping, not only the teacher, but also the curriculum, the student themselves, the staff, and obviously, the parents’. We are even going to do more education for parents, workshops, discussions, open forum, where they can address any questions and fill the gaps.
Can you tell us a little bit about the facilities that you provide for your students?
I particularly like our performing arts department, because it is one way for the students to analyze characters, understanding different roles, and understanding from different positions. This classical method of performing arts literature that we introduce to our children is important for students to have an open mind how others think in the wake of the same situation. That’s why English literature is very important; we do a lot of reading, literature from the very beginning as early as primary school. We study literary classics and the students study heroes from the bible and also from modern day heroes. And this is in line with Ichthus School curriculum, Leadership.
In Primary, the teacher teaches the literature, and then the students will perform. In the process, they learn facial expression, empathy, compassion, feelings of each character. By the time they are in Secondary, we look at students being the director, producer, experiencing the roles, as backstage people. Maybe some of them are not too good on stage, but they are great at managing people so they go behind the stage and manage the crew, the ones that are good with music do the choreographer, etc. So there is a lot of mentoring happening, a lot of opportunities for each student to excel.
What does the name Ichthus mean?
The name is a Greek word meaning ‘fish’, it symbolizes when one is trying to do something on their own, and it may be hard to do, but with God’s help, and by listening to His instructions, one can do it. It is just one part of the story though, as it also symbolizes many other things. It is also an acronym of Jesus Christ Son of God, Our Savior. Basically we look up to Jesus Christ as our role model in every aspect of our lives.
What are some of the achievements you are most proud of?
We have alumni of Ichthus, who has the highest combined science score in all of Indonesia. We have also a number one winner for the I3L (Indonesia International Institute for Life Sciences) Science Competition, from our school, for her recycling project. So our students are not just thinkers, but also with positive impact their community. Not just looking their environment as ‘things’ but considering the ‘people’ as well. We are also the Jakarta champion for the Christian Choir.
What is your curriculum and accreditation?
We have accreditation from the WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), a world-renowned accrediting association and one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the United States, and also the ACSI (Association of Christian School International) that has a very rigorous standard. We are actually the first school in Jakarta that got both accreditations.
Our assessment is Cambridge, but the whole pedagogy of teaching and learning, is unique to the school, which is the Ichthus Curriculum. We look after the mind, the heart, the emotions, the character, and the spiritual affairs of the student.
Are you open to non-Christian students?
Yes absolutely! We welcome everyone, regardless religion, nationality, and background. We currently have so many foreign nationalities; we have American students, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, and of course, Indonesian.
How big is each of your class?
The guideline is 24 for primary, secondary is 26 to 28. But I think in Indonesia we talk too much about ‘how many students per class’. When I visited a lot of successful schools in terms of bringing up children, it really is about having an ‘optimized classes’. For example, when we have students that need more help, we will have smaller group. But sometimes there are classes that are ‘fast’ and need more interaction, we’ll make bigger group, to maximize learning. We don’t want to be stuck in the old school ‘linear’ thought that ‘lesser is better’. The fact is, it really depends on the type of activity, subject, and the students that you have.
Thank you so much for your time for the interview. It was a very inspiring talk!
You are very welcome!
For more information about Ichthus School, visit http://www.ichthusschool.com/ or come visit their campuses:
Ichthus South Campus : Jl. Caringin Barat No. 1 Cilandak Barat – South Jakarta | Tel : +6221 -7590 8820 | Fax: +6221 -7590 8820
Ichthus West Campus : Jl. Surya Mandala III Blok N II No.11 Sunrise Garden – West Jakarta | Tel : +6221 – 581 2228 | Fax : +6221 – 581 2229