Dr. Sherman Jen’ Speech at the CMLES 25th Anniversary Ceremony
The twenty-five years’ startup experience and extraordinary process are still fresh in my mind. The joy of success and pain of hard efforts led me repeatedly excited, calm down and deep in thought. The great success as well as sustained healthy development would not be achieved without our great philosophy of “Blending the Best of Chinese and the Western Education, and Implementing Quality Education”, without the care and support of both Chinese and Canadian governments at all levels, and without the participation and persistent strive of all Maple Leafers.
Maple Leaf International School-Dalian was founded in May 1995 under tremendous pressure and questions, and initiated in September with only 14 students. Among difficulties and challenges and in the narrow space of survival, we did not give up our path to innovative education by blending the education of China and the West. In the following five years after first school opened, we devoted ourselves to education and finally explored an education model of Maple Leaf, namely “Three Combinations”, “Two Accreditations” and “One Alignment”. The success of our model was evidenced by our first excellent graduates. We have spent fifteen years in summarizing and improving the five systems under our philosophy of “Blending the Best of Chinese and the Western Education”, i.e. curriculum system, moral system, culture system, talent system and development system. In the past 20 years, we have consolidated our foundation, from model to system. In 2015, we proposed in our 5th Five-Year Plan the idea to develop Maple Leaf Global Programs, which was finally developed into our practice of Creating Maple Leaf standards to build a world school.
Looking back to the past 25 years, we seized three opportunities of development. The first appeared in the year of 2001, when China successfully entered into WTO and the Chinese government made a commitment to WTO that China would moderately open doors to the international high-school education. At that time, we had operated six years and owned three cohorts of graduates, which was widely recognized by international education fields. Maple Leaf started to witness an accelerated development.
The second opportunity started from the year of 2010, when the Ministry of Education of China issued the Outline of the National Program for Medium and Long Term Educational Reform and Development. The outline encouraged all capitals invested international education and allowed various types of schools at high school levels and above to introduce international education resources, thus bringing about the rise in the popularity of international education and embracing the spring for the development of private education. The education model and brand of Maple Leaf were widely advocated. Local governments gathered together in Dalian and negotiated on school collaboration with Maple Leaf. The asset-light model of Maple Leaf thus came into being, which accelerated the pace of making its schools expanded throughout the nation.
The third opportunity happened in November 2014, when Maple Leaf was successfully listed on the main board of Hong Kong Stock Exchanges, becoming the first stock of international education at the Chinese fundamental education stage. Our successful listing made Maple Leafers’ international vision further widened. The introduction of international capital gave us soaring wings. We basically completed our strategic plan of building schools in China within 5th Five Year period, with 43,000 students in total, 2.6 times more than the number of 4th Five Year Plan.
Most people have seen the successful achievements and applause of Maple Leaf in the past 25 years, but few of them observed the hard work & efforts or even awful sufferings behind it. In addition to schools running difficulties, we have also experienced three crises, including the ongoing severe challenges.
The first crisis occurred in the spring and autumn of 2003, when Maple Leaf just got started and SARS rapidly spread. We had to have our campuses isolated for over 40 days, during which both our teachers and students were not allowed to leave. During this period, one employee’s father and another employee’s mother passed away. Both employees did not leave school for the care of students. More female employees were unable to return home and to look after their children for the sake of students. All Maple Leafers including Chinese & Foreigners united as one to fight against the disaster. In that year, when summer recruitment started, students went out, employees went out, parents helped to recruit students, and all the staff participated, we turned the crisis into an opportunity, and in that year, we gained a record breaking growth.
The second crisis occurred on August 12, 2015, when Maple Leaf International School-Tianjin TEDA suffered from the big explosion from the warehouse nearby. Both doors and windows of the school were seriously damaged and in a big mess. Parents strongly appealed the school to evacuate their children to other campuses of Maple Leaf. Some managers of the Head Office also believed that our students should be diverted as school opening was unable to be guaranteed. At the critical moment when this campus was being decomposed, the Head Office stood with the government together, trusted the government to repairs and ensured their promise of pollution-free school opening. The Tianjin campus mobilized its employees to provide full cooperation, thus ensuring the school opening of this campus and preventing the risk of its separation. The fact demonstrates the correct decision of our Head Office.
The third challenge is the COVID-19 epidemic this year. Before the end of January, when the epidemic has not drawn wide attention, we decided to cancel our winter camps. Meanwhile, the senior management decided to sign the agreement with Canvas one semester earlier to offer online courses, thus ensuring that our high school English teaching was almost not affected during the period of city and campus block.
Fortunately, none of our 43,000 students and 6,500 teachers and staff, neither foreign nor Chinese were infected. Especially, the Hubei School District took vigorous preventive measures under huge pressure, great performances in an orderly manner and pursued innovation in marketing at this critical time. As a result, it heads the list of all campuses in terms of recruitment in spring. They demonstrate the ability of Maple Leafers to turn crises into opportunities, and they are the most respected team.
The past 25 years is the period when Maple Leafers have continuously strived, held their belief, worked with persistence and marched forward. Through wind and rain, Maple Leafers have experienced the rise of their mental outlook and created their brilliance in undertakings on the journey against difficulties and challenges.
For 25 years, from models to systems, and from systems to standards formulation, M/L has optimized its scientific development, made remarkable education achievements and accumulated valuable experience that will continue driving us to be great. Our experience included, but not limited to the followings:
First of all, adhering to the core philosophy of Maple Leaf, blending the best of Chinese and Western education and implementing quality education, inheriting the mission to provide an elite education to all students, regardless of Race, Color or Nationality, with the spirit of integrity, innovation, professionalism and execution, abiding by the rules in education and market, Maple Leaf is also bold in innovation practice, to ensure the progressiveness on philosophy and positioning.
Second, reinforcing the core competitiveness of Maple Leaf. Maple Leaf complies with the trend of world economic integration and insists on its international school-running orientation, thus receiving global recognition of Maple Leaf’s curriculum credits. Our graduates can directly apply for international universities with their transcripts. 100% of them have been admitted and 60% of them were enrolled by top 100 universities, thus satisfying diversified education needs. Students benefited most from Maple Leaf education. The core competitiveness of Maple Leaf has been continuously increased during the process of innovative development.
Third, enhance the strategic execution power of Maple Leaf. We work to decompose our vision into phased targets in a scientific way. The theme of tasks is planned each year and solutions are made in response to typical issues. Upon the establishment of targets, any problems will be solved once encountered. As a result, we have witnessed quality improvement of our team, greater performance, more quality culture traditions and consistently enhanced strategic execution. The team’s execution abilities after goals set up, is the invincible secret of Maple Leaf.
In September this year, Maple Leaf will start to implement the 6th Five-Year Plan featuring with two major strategies, one is to implement the strategy of Educational School District.
In the next five years, Maple Leaf will establish 10 Educational School Districts in China with 100,000 students; and 2 Educational School Districts abroad with no less than 10,000 students. Maple Leaf will establish school in about 50 cities around the world with over 150 campuses, total student number will be over 110,000, becoming one of the largest international education institutions in the field of fundamental education of the world.
With the Pyramid Structure Maple Leaf Educational School District, elementary students enroll directly to middle school and then to high school. The high admission rate as over 60% to Top 100 Universities, enables high school graduates to have initiative to select global famous universities. The 10 Educational School Districts will be established with an educational chain by integrating elementary school, middle school and high school components, becoming a perfect combination of a unique K-12 education systems with first-class education quality and outstanding English teaching advantages. In next 5 years, 95% of Maple Leaf elementary school students will directly go to Maple Leaf middle school, and 90% of Maple Leaf middle school students will directly go to Maple Leaf high school, while the remaining 10% vacancy for external schools. Each MLESD is relatively balanced and operated independently to achieve sustainable development, which is the ballast stone of Maple Leaf to grow into a great and ever-growing education institution.
The other major strategy of the 6th Five-Year Plan is to implement Maple Leaf standards.
In the next five years, Maple Leaf will complete the transformation from BC curriculum to Maple Leaf World School Program, achieve the reconstruction of positioning and new goals. Maple Leaf will offer the same standard programs like A-level, but Maple Leaf curriculum accreditation integrates with more Chinese cultural elements.
With Maple Leaf standard strategy, Maple Leaf will provide national and international private schools with schooling resources and qualification service, and founds a Maple Leaf school Alliances. The characteristics and efficiency advantages of Maple Leaf standards will benefit more and more national and international private schools by sharing resources and developmental outcome. This is the energy pool for Maple Leaf to grow into a great and ever-growing education institution.
Looking back, Maple Leaf has made magnificent achievements after 25 years of developing aside by the rise of China. Looking forward to the Maple Leaf vision and objective, such achievements in the past 25 years are just the first step to build the centennial undertaking. Maple Leaf still has a long way to grow into a great and ever-growing educational institution.
We firmly believe that the development of Maple Leaf is consistent with the direction as China to integrate into and lead the future world. Maple Leaf World School will extend to follow the initiative of the Belt and Road to open more schools. Maple Leaf World School Program standards will become a cultural link with different countries and regions. MLES will become a glorious cause to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
Following the two major strategies as planned, we will draw on the beneficial policies under the Belt and Road Initiative, shoulder our historical mission, to build a great educational institution. By carrying more vitality and vigor into education cause, Maple Leaf will sail to the wider blue ocean and embrace the world without hesitation!