Editorial Team

The International School of Geneva (Ecolint) is the world’s first international school, based in Geneva, Switzerland. A not-for-profit foundation established in 1924, Ecolint currently educates 4,500 students representing over 140 nationalities. The school offers bilingual education from Early Years to Secondary School and provides a range of programs, including the International Baccalaureate (IB), the Universal Learning Programme (ULP), IGCSE, and the Maturité fédérale (Swiss secondary school certificate, granting access to universities and polytechnics in Switzerland and abroad). Moreover, Ecolint focuses on delivering a relevant and forward-thinking curriculum that not only enhances academic learning but also fosters a deep understanding of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We seek gifts in every child and work together to have those gifts flourish into talents,” shares Dr. Conrad Hughes, Director General, Ecolint. “The stories of our alumni, extraordinary people who have shaped the world, testify to the life-changing experience that is Ecolint.”

Celebrating One Hundred Years of Education for Peace

Founded in 1924 by local educators and officials from the League of Nations and the International Labour Organization (ILO), Ecolint was created with the explicit purpose of providing an international education for both Geneva’s international and local communities. Over the past 100 years, this mission has remained steadfast, as Ecolint continues to educate for a better world, adhering to its founding principles of peace, inclusiveness, respect, and intercultural understanding. Moreover, Ecolint’s influence extends far beyond the classroom. As the birthplace of the International Baccalaureate (IB) in the late 1960s and operating as a resolutely not-for-profit institution, the school boasts a remarkable history, significant impact, and a unique position among the top international schools in the world.

Today, Ecolint has three campuses (La Grande Boissière, La Châtaigneraie, and Campus des Nations), over 4,500 students, and 1,100 staff members. What truly sets Ecolint apart is its exceptional commitment to every student, providing comprehensive learning support, high-quality academic guidance, and fostering a culture of inclusivity that ensures each student’s educational experience is extraordinary. As of the next academic year, Ecolint will begin its centenary celebrations, which will mark the entire 2024-2025 school year.

Conrad Hughes, General manager

Ecolint’s Primary Schools: extraordinary learning environments

Ecolint’s three Primary schools cater for children from the age of 3 (or who will reach the age of 3 between August 31 and December 31 of the school year).

Classes are taught in English and French, with increasing exposure to the second language over the years. It is not necessary to be fluent in either French or English to participate in bilingual programs. What’s more, the teaching of world languages, both as part of the curriculum and as an extracurricular activity, enables students to retain their mother tongue. The languages currently taught are Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, English, Farsi/Persian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Turkish and Ukrainian.

The Universal Learning Program (ULP), designed in close collaboration with UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education, is offered on La Grande Boissière campus.

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme is offered on the Campus des Nations and La Châtaigneraie. It fosters the development of all students, encouraging them to express themselves, make choices and be architects of their own learning.

Idyllic settings and state-of-the-art facilities, the architecture of the campuses is specially designed to foster excellence in student learning from an early age.

Forest School sessions in the heart of nature encourage students to engage in interaction with the natural world.

Through learning through play and exploration, and by stimulating creative problem-solving, children develop self-confidence and become reflective, resilient, creative and independent learners.

Mirna Hafez-Farah, Director of Primary School – La Grande Boissière

Focus on Ecolint’s Secondary Schools

Ecolint’s Secondary Schools have high academic standards, reflected in the school’s strong examination results. The Schools are also fully inclusive and strive to meet the needs of all students, providing learning support as well as English as an additional language. Through community service, humanitarian work, educational visits, and trips both within Switzerland and across the world, Ecolint’s students develop not only a love of learning but also the skills they need to become responsible global citizens.

Innovative Learning Approaches

A cornerstone of Ecolint’s innovative approach is the Universal Learning Programme (ULP), a unique competency-based curriculum framework developed in collaboration with UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education. This programme is designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. Director General, Dr Conrad Hughes, who is also a senior research fellow at UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education, has been instrumental in driving this initiative forward, ensuring that the curriculum remains at the cutting edge of educational best practices. Through these efforts, Ecolint is committed to preparing students not just for academic success, but for meaningful and impactful lives as global citizens.

Isla Gordon, Director of the Campus and Primary School – Campus des Nations

Another major innovation at Ecolint is the Learner’s Passport. This concept aims to redefine learning beyond academic knowledge and technical skills alone. While these are crucial, there’s more to individuals than their academic journey. What the world truly needs is an educational program that nurtures attitudes, values, as well as aptitudes and knowledge. Therefore, lifelong learning, self-agency, interacting with others, interactively using diverse tools and resources, interacting with the world, multi-literateness and transdisciplinarity are the seven core areas that Ecolint aims to develop in each learner.

Likewise, Ecolint has collaborated with institutions worldwide, forming a coalition dedicated to the fundamental task of redesigning school transcripts. This coalition to honour all learning is committed to honouring all forms of learning, recognizing the importance of holistic development in education. Finally, a significant Ecolint invention was the creation of the Model United Nations system in 1953. This simulation of UN protocol — resolution setting, debate, voting, and adoption or rejection — provides a powerful, concrete example of education for peace. Today, thousands of students worldwide participate in the model, a testament to Ecolint’s enduring influence.

It is also important to mention Ecolint’s Speaker series which brings incredible insights to students. Ecolint runs a Speakers series through which students have been privileged to engage with, among others, Nobel Prize winners such as Ben Okri, public intellectuals such as Angela Davis and Germaine Greer, world-class journalists such as John Pilger, musicians such as Angélique Kidjo, Barbara Hendrix and the Afghan Womens’ Orchestra and keynote speakers such as Mario Vargas Llosa.

Hazel Allen, Director of Primary School – La Châtaigneraie

Recruitment & Training

The present and future success of Ecolint hinges primarily on the quality of its staff. With this in mind, Ecolint maintains a highly professional approach to recruitment, aiming to hire the best individuals in their respective fields of expertise while aligning with the Foundation’s values. Ecolint also invests in the professional development of its personnel. Certain areas receive recurrent training, such as child protection, proficiency in English and French languages, diversity and inclusion, pastoral care, health and safety, data protection, among others. This investment in staff growth underscores Ecolint’s dedication to maintaining a supportive and continually improving learning environment.

Furthermore, at Ecolint, everyone is engaged in a journey of feedback, learning, and self-improvement through a new growth and development process. Spearheaded by the school’s Director of People & Culture, Soizic Le Clère, and her team, this process has been successfully implemented for all staff without distinction. This structured approach to growth and development underscores Ecolint’s commitment to continuous improvement and fostering a supportive and empowering work environment for all its staff members.

A Highly Qualified Team of Teachers

Passion, professionalism, dedication, dynamism, and creativity define Ecolint teachers, who are committed pedagogues always willing to go the extra mile. With diverse backgrounds in international education, staff members from around the world inspire Ecolint students to foster open-mindedness, curiosity, critical thinking, and acceptance of diversity. As previously mentioned, Ecolint places great importance on the ongoing training of its staff, providing numerous opportunities for professional and personal development and growth. This dedication to continuous improvement ensures that Ecolint teachers remain at the forefront of educational best practices, enriching the learning experiences of their students.

Providing a Nurturing and Inclusive Learning Environment

One of the words that comes to mind when we speak of Ecolint is support. Ecolint is dedicated to providing a nurturing and inclusive environment where every student and staff member feels safe, valued, and empowered. This commitment to support is evident in the school’s comprehensive learning programs, tailored academic guidance, and individualised pastoral care. Whether through individualised learning plans, robust mental health resources, or a vibrant community that celebrates cultural diversity and inclusion, Ecolint ensures that support is woven into the very fabric of its educational approach. This unwavering dedication helps students and staff alike to thrive, fostering a sense of belonging and enabling everyone to reach their full potential.

In addition, Ecolint’s child protection policy reflects its unwavering commitment to the safety and well-being of its students. The Foundation of the Ecole Internationale de Genève subscribes to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the host country, Switzerland, is a State Party. Ecolint is dedicated to promoting and defending the rights of its students, ensuring their physical and psychological well-being is prioritised in all aspects of their education and development. This commitment underscores the school’s holistic approach to nurturing a safe and supportive environment where every child can thrive and feel protected.

Likewise, Ecolint is committed to supporting all its students and offers support for students with mild to severe learning difficulties. Ecolint’s Student Councils also play a pivotal role as dedicated leaders, carrying the voices of students. They are instrumental in fostering a collaborative school environment, ensuring that students’ perspectives and ideas are heard and acted upon. Through their initiatives and active participation, the Student Councils help shape school policies, organise events, and promote a sense of community, inclusivity, and student empowerment across Ecolint’s campuses.

A Wide Range of Extracurricular Activities

Ecolint offers a wide range of activities designed to enrich student learning, foster creativity, expand horizons, and develop additional skills. These activities provide students with opportunities to explore their potential, develop and showcase new talents, and enjoy leisure through learning. Here are a few examples:

ENCORE Performing Arts Academy: Ecolint created its own performing arts academy, ENCORE. The aim is to build confidence in young people through professional training, offering students a safe and inclusive environment to express themselves with even more creativity, even more mastery and even more fun.

Sports: Ecolint’s extra-curricular sports program is designed to promote physical fitness and social development for all participants, regardless of their skill level. Through sports, students acquire essential values and attitudes such as teamwork, leadership, and respect. The Ecolint Ski Team, open to students in Years 3 to 13, exemplifies this commitment by bringing together the best skiers from the school’s campuses to compete against peers from other international schools. The team travels to picturesque ski resorts in Switzerland, proudly representing Ecolint.

Music: The Music School at Ecolint offers a wealth of learning opportunities for young musicians starting from age 3. It provides high-quality instruction to students of all levels, from beginners to pre-professionals, through a comprehensive program of private lessons, music theory, group activities, and concerts. Ecolint’s music teachers, who are both performers and pedagogues, have been trained at leading conservatoires and universities across Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.

Visual Arts: Visual arts classes at Ecolint allow students to explore creative processes by expressing themselves through various media and techniques. By blending creative freedom with a strong technical foundation, students delve into both traditional and contemporary art forms while leveraging the latest technologies. Artistic activities encompass painting, drawing, sculpture, film, photography, and digital comics, providing students with diverse avenues for self-expression and artistic growth.

Ecolint Camps

Ecolint is also the largest camp provider in Switzerland, offering holiday camps for children aged 3 to 13 throughout the year. The camps have been developed to the highest standards, offering top-quality supervision and facilities. They welcome the largest number of children from the Geneva region and also offer a higher adult/child ratio.

Leveraging Digital Technology for Better Learning and Education

Ecolint’s STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – a broad range of study integrates multiple disciplines, allowing students to explore science and maths through interdisciplinary projects that incorporate technology and engineering principles. These activities promote curiosity and independence by connecting classroom lessons to real-world applications. Through this approach, students learn to apply the scientific method to everyday situations, with a strong emphasis on ethics, sustainability, creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving.

Engaging in Partnerships with Local and International Entities

As highlighted by the Director General, Dr Conrad Hughes, “Ecolint is part of the Geneva landscape, and we’re proud to be part not only of international Geneva, but also of our city, canton, and republic.” The school actively engages in partnerships with both local and international entities in Geneva. For instance, as CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) forms a fundamental aspect of the International Baccalaureate Diploma program, Ecolint’s students participate in a diverse range of projects, including community service activities. This not only enriches their educational experience but also fosters a sense of civic responsibility and global citizenship.

Furthermore, Ecolint maintains strong ties and shares a common mission with international organisations, NGOs, permanent missions, and other key stakeholders headquartered in Geneva. Through collaboration and engagement with International Geneva, the school contributes to global initiatives and promotes values of peace, inclusivity, and sustainability on a broader scale. These partnerships reinforce Ecolint’s commitment to making a positive impact both locally and globally.

Leading with Passion, Purpose, and Vision

As the Director General of Ecolint since 2023, Dr Conrad Hughes oversees the strategic vision, academic excellence, and operational efficiency of the largest and oldest international school in the world. With over 15 years of experience in educational leadership, including many years at Ecolint, he has a passion for fostering transformative learning, intercultural understanding, and global citizenship among students and staff. He holds an EdD in Critical Thinking from Durham University (UK), a PhD in English Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), and a Life Coach certification from Erickson Coaching International.

Dr Hughes is also a Senior Fellow at IBE-UNESCO, where he contributes to the development of research-based and innovative curricula for the 21st century. Of Swiss, South African, and British nationality, his skills include comparative education, tutoring, educational leadership, and solution-based coaching. He is fluent in French and English and has authored and co-authored several publications on prejudice reduction, creativity, assessment, competence-based learning, and international-mindedness in education. His mission is to empower learners to become agents of positive change in their communities and beyond.

For More Info: https://www.ecolint.ch/

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