New York-based elite academy Dwight School on Monday held a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of its Seoul branch, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said.
The Dwight International School Seoul, a 29.2 billion won ($26 million) five-story school building, is expected to open in September next year within the Sangam Digital Media City, western Seoul.
It will be the fourth overseas branch of the internationally renowned private school in Manhattan, New York, following those in London, Beijing and Victoria, Canada, the city said.
A total of 540 kindergarteners, elementary and secondary students will be enrolled in the school, with Korean nationals restricted to making up no more than 20 percent of the total.
Under the current law, international schools are not allowed to fill more than 30 percent of their places with Korean nationals.
The school fees are estimated to total 25 million won per year, the city said.
Aimed at attracting foreign investors, the city has been conducting promotional activities for some 180 international schools. The city selected Dwight School as a preferred operator last May.
“When the prestigious Dwight School opens in Seoul, the city’s educational environment for foreign residents would improve and it will be good news for foreign companies that consider entering the city,” said Kwon Young-gyu, vice mayor for administrative affairs.
Founded in 1872, Dwight School sends about 60 percent of its graduate students to Ivy League schools every year.
The school also adopted the International Baccalaureate program for the first time as an American school so that its students can obtain educational qualification even when they transfer to another school.
Stephen Spahn, the headmaster of Dwight School and executive director of the International Baccalaureate Organization, plans to open the IB Asia Center in the DMC by 2012 and to host the 2014 IB Convention in Seoul.
The city expected that, if the plans succeed, it would also help other international schools here have IB curriculums.
In Seoul, there are currently 21 international schools where about 6,700 students are enrolled. Of them, 12 are for English-speaking students and nine for others such as from Germany, Italy, France, Japan, China and Mongolia.
“With some 11,000 school-age children of foreign residents staying here, their educational demand could be met by 2013 when another international school is expected to open in Gaepo-dong, southern Seoul,” said Oh Seung-hwan, director of foreign residents assistance in the city.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)