Pemberton may become next GEMS jewel 

International education group researching feasibility of boarding school in valley

Pemberton may be home to a prestigious new school, hosting students from around the world.

At a press conference Saturday, Mayor Jordan Sturdy announced that GEMS Education, an international educational group, has been looking into opening a boarding school in Pemberton, and is now moving forward to assess the viability of their business model in the area.

“We’re very interested in the potential that the Pemberton area offers for an international school, so we’ve now engaged a company called PKS, which are an American research analysis organization, and they’ll be conducting a study throughout the Vancouver-Pemberton corridor to look at a feasibility market research analysis,” Ian Rysdale, Senior Education Advisor for GEMS Education, said in an interview Monday.

Several sites have been preliminarily identified as having potential for the school. There was no word on what GEMS was prepared to invest to build a school in the Pemberton area, but it would likely serve up to 400 Canadian and international students.

GEMS Education was established 49 years ago, and is based in Dubai. While many of their 55 schools are still in the United Arab Emirates, they also have locations in India and the UK, and have recently decided to expand to North America.

“…The strategic decision has been made to try to move globally to take the GEMS Education perspective across the world,” said Rysdale.

GEMS teaches students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 using a curriculum based on four central models: English, Indian, American, and International Baccalaureate programs.

“It provides education across a spectrum of economic needs — different pricing points for different communities and different curriculum for different communities,” explained Rysdale.

The Pemberton school would be the first Canadian GEMS school, and would focus on the IB curriculum. Rysdale describes the IB program as progressive and internationally minded, explaining that it “encourages the concepts of world citizenship, having a global perspective in education. It’s not so nationally focused.”

Sturdy points out that while the school isn’t a “done deal,” he is happy to see GEMS is moving ahead with an assessment.

“They’re spending money on it at this point, so there’s a certain degree of commitment there,” said the mayor.

Sturdy says this is a good business opportunity because it is clean, renewable, sustainable and knowledge-based.

He also pointed out that a boarding school could boost the local economy and the area’s reputation, and, more importantly, the influx of international staff and students would help the area grow.

“Those people coming in, adding diversity to our community and knowledge and experiences from all around the world, it can’t help but benefit us.”


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