Head of School Sends a Message to Start the Summer Holidays

Catherine Chiuco

As we start the summer vacation, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the students, parents and staff for the flexibility and resilience shown in reaching the end of what has been an extremely challenging school year. I would also to give a special mention to the Graduating Class of 2020, who I wish success, health and happiness in the next stage of their lives.

As we start the summer vacation, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the students, parents and staff for the flexibility and resilience shown in reaching the end of what has been an extremely challenging school year. I would also to give a special mention to the Graduating Class of 2020, who I wish success, health and happiness in the next stage of their lives.

The recent months have been challenging for all of us, as we have had to make the adjustment from regular face-to-face contact, and the social and emotional connections and support that this brings to the learning process, to having to learn how to socially isolate ourselves, and to operate to a far greater degree in the virtual world. However, I have been extremely proud of how the entire ISL Qatar community has risen to meet this challenge. It has been so important that student learning has continued during this time of school closure, and I am confident that our online learning programme has met the needs of the vast majority of our children.

While this has been a time of uncertainty and challenge, it is important to hold on to the positive outcomes from these difficult days. We must strive to construct meaning from this crisis, and to recognise the opportunity to reconsider the important things in life that we had perhaps previously taken for granted: a walk by the sea; a hug from our friends; or even shaking hands with somebody that you have just met. I am certain that we will, in the future, be so much more aware of the value that social contact actually brings to the learning process. I believe these changes will impact education and learning in positive ways when we return to face-to-face contact in the future. 

This is an opportunity to recognise the collective failures in education, which has been designed for a world that we should not return to. Many have seen the purpose of education as being to get ahead of other people or, collectively, of other nations. The pandemic has surely made it obvious how closely linked we all are and how much we need to work together in times of difficulty. Rather than educating for individual success and competition with others, it is clearer now more than ever that we urgently need to cooperate with others to overcome global issues. We need to reconsider our importance in the world, and the placing of the creation of wealth and continuous growth at the centre of the economic models that drive our society. It has become clear over these last months that wealth can’t just be measured in monetary terms. Wealth alone means nothing without health, relationships, family, and our ability to enjoy the beauty of the world in which we live. Of course economic recovery is going to be essential, but as we emerge from the pandemic, perhaps it is time to recognise the importance of the health and wellbeing of our children, families and friends, and of the health and wellbeing of the planet on which we live. Economic growth without such consideration is very fragile, and as we have been shown during these last months, can disappear in an instant.