Profile: Jay and Sri Young and their two children (Ruben and Chloe)
Originally from: England, UK and Java, Indonesia
Arrived in Bali: 2016
What made you decide to MOVE TO Bali?
A combination of family and destiny calling!
You own the Skywalker House Academy; in Desa Buwit, Tabanan Regency (15 mins drive from Echo Beach). Please share the history of the school and its philosophy.
The basic vision is to provide an authentic international standard education at a price most of us can afford. Most expats don’t realize how expensive schools in Bali can be.
Starting a school had been a dream since around 2005. I started teaching adults creative media courses privately around 2006. And I completed formal training as a professional school teacher in 2010. I then moved to Indonesia and got a job in an international school in a suburb of East Jakarta in 2011. At this time Ruben was born and three years later came Chloe.
But life in East Jakarta was far from ideal for small children and family life suffered as a result of too much traffic, pollution, and there being a shortage of accessible natural spaces, etc. And so I resigned from my job as Head of Humanities in an IB World School (after 5 successful years) and we moved to Bali with the hope of starting our own small school.
We opened the doors in 2017 with just six students. We now have over fifty. Our philosophy is that a good school should avoid following trends and be free of politically correct ideologies, politics and other distractions. It should focus instead on building classical skills and knowledge, that can be measured, assessed and applied in the real world. Giving students the tools they need to secure a prosperous and secure future.
We provide the English national curriculum and utilise technologies that allow us to tailor our learning to the individual needs of students; we use data driven personalized strategies.
This creates an extremely efficient and highly effective approach, allowing our members to achieve on average 1.5 grades of learning in an average 12-month cycle.
This is a globally speaking, a very high level of academic achievement. And our kids love it because it removes any mystery and uncertainty from the process. The curriculum and the students’ engagement and development in it; is transparent; open to interpretation; and analysis.
It’s a game changer in education.
Describe the school community and the expat families that attend.
The community is approximately a fifty-fifty balance between expat families and mixed Indo-international families. Most schools in Bali have a very unstable student body because they rely too heavily on short term stays which becomes a form of study tourism. We don’t accept families for any study stays for less than one year, to ensure that we build a more sustainable relationship-based learning model.
You say you are providing ‘more school choices for parents’ and a creative community of lifelong learners, global citizens, and social entrepreneurs. Please share more about this.
Lifelong learning is a philosophy for a fulfilling life well-lived. Learning is at the core of all growth and development. When we are not learning, we are essentially just dying. Our brains literally diminish and shrink if we don’t keep them utilized and fit.
Global citizen is a concept which I have had to adjust my understanding of. I am not in favour of homogenizing the world into a single global legal, cultural, or economic entity. Which is I think what some people think the concept should be about. I have come to understand that this is not desirable. However, I remain committed to the idea that there are certain values and philosophies that are indeed global. Concepts like love, health & family are universal. As someone who has lived on both sides of the globe – I feel like there are important parallels to be drawn and promoted. Life-long learning is just one.
Social entrepreneurs are the embodiment of the idea that there is more than one way to be entrepreneurial. That the main focus can be more than capital profit. It can equally be about building communities and learning legacies. And that is how I see the Skywalker community. It’s a community of lifelong learners – building something for future generations to enjoy.
What are some of the cultural and academic challenges of working in education in Bali?
There are a lot of differences to understand and reconcile in any international community. Luckily I have the benefit of having an Indonesian (Sundanese) wife and partner. Just within Java – there are many ethnic and linguistic diversities. Bali is no different. So we are always having to stay open-minded when communicating our expectations. What we might regard as ‘basic’ or common sense can be totally unknown and complicated to someone from another cultural background. Almost everything we assume to be ‘normal’ must be reconsidered and reassessed. This is a great opportunity to re-evaluate the ideas of normal itself. But it is also very resource-intensive and can feel daunting sometimes.
This takes on many forms and takes many years to fully appreciate. It is a balancing act between creating and communicating your own expectations that are informed by common values. These need to be communicated carefully and concisely – in the context of commonly understood contexts.
Please tell us what it has been like living in Bali during COVID this year.
It has been very frustrating for business owners and families who are trying to travel. It has also been challenging to our sense of health and wellness. But it has also been an opportunity in many ways. The tourism industry is both a blessing and a burden. Taking a break has been good for the island in very obvious ways. The traffic, pollution, noise and intensity has been greatly reduced in and around Canggu – but luckily it didn’t totally shut down the community as it did in other parts of the island.
The building boom has continued particularly around Canggu and the areas in and around the school have seen significant construction and business investment – despite COVID-19.
What advice do you have FOR FAMILIES who wish to MOVE TO Bali?
Choose wisely based on a long-term strategy. Stability in relationships is essential for children to develop. Avoid short-term thinking.
Is there anything else you would like to share?