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Richard McDonald Image Credit: Supplied

Aiglon College, situated in the spectacular environs of Chesières-Villars in Switzerland came into being in 1949. It was founded on a distinctive ethos: the balanced development of mind, body, and spirit.

“The founder, John Corlette’s pioneering educational vision has given us a set of values and educational priorities that remain at the very core of Aiglon’s identity,” says Richard McDonald, Headmaster of Aiglon College.

“He was greatly influenced by the well-known German educator, Kurt Hahn, who had founded the Salem School in 1920 in Germany and that is still considered one of the most elite schools in Europe. Later, Hahn moved to Scotland where he founded another school, Gordonstoun. Both Salem and Gordonstoun are deeply ingrained with a holistic educational philosophy with special emphasis on character development in addition to the academic excellence that schools provide.”

Hahn was also involved in the foundation of the Outward Bound Organisation, Atlantic College in Wales and the wider United World College movement, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

Aiglon founder, Corlette had worked with Hahn for a few years in Scotland and brought that tradition of holistic education encompassing physical fitness, awareness of self and those around, as well as service to fellow human beings, with particular emphasis on striking a balance in the development of the mind, body and spirit. 

That balance is achieved at Aiglon through the inspiring location, holistic education as well as extracurricular programmes that students receive. Unlike other Swiss boarding schools, Aiglon College: Ensuring the balanced development of mind, body, and spirit

Aiglon follows a house system like that of British independent schools. Students join a house when they enrol in Aiglon and are in the same house till they leave. The campus is like a village, having 20 different buildings including nine boarding houses. Each one is different and most of the students stay in shared rooms.

“From a social point of view it is very effective and is part of the development of core competencies of social engagement, interaction and learning to get along with different types of people,” assures McDonald.

Aiglon’s staff and students come from around the globe, including many from the Middle East. “Aiglon has an exceptionally diverse international student body, with a long history of strong representation from the Gulf region,” remarks McDonald. “Admission procedures are very straight forward and families of students seeking admission are advised to visit the school and stay there, as the school officials also want to get to know the family and background of each student.”

Students at Aiglon opt to complete their schooling including the IB diploma programme in the final two years. Courses such as economics, business management, environmental systems and societies, language courses, maths and science are popular among them and given much importance.

“We match the subjects to the interest and aptitude of the students when they apply,” explains McDonald. “There is also a tutor system in place in addition to teachers to help him/her in both academic and extracurricular programmes.”

Extracurricular is both delightful and serious at Aiglon, a global leader in outdoor education programmes. Therefore, in addition to sports like basketball, tennis and swimming, Aiglon exploits its scenic, healthy and clean natural environment in both physical and academic learning. All students are required to be enrolled in the unique Aiglon expedition programme that includes camping, hiking, orienteering and more. 

“We have the leading ski racing team among many mainstream boarding schools. All our winter sports are snow based. And for character development through outdoor education Aiglon is one of the leaders in the world,” affirms McDonald. 

The school also runs its popular Summer and Winter Camps during the holidays, attracting several international students by offering an inspirational physical environment that is peaceful, safe, healthy, and pollution free, with unsullied nature around them. 

“My own personal experience has been a pleasant one”

By Tony Jashanmal

“It is always a pleasant and nostalgic occasion when delegations from the international schools of Switzerland visit the Arabian Gulf countries. It is an encouraging thought to know that the Swiss Schools of Switzerland attract so many students of all nationalities to the beautiful and peaceful country of Switzerland.

“I, alongwith my cousin Bharat Jashanmal from Bahrain had enrolled in Aiglon College in 1961. Since then, several family members have attended Aiglon College and some other Swiss schools in Switzerland. We have all enjoyed our experiences over the last 50 plus years.

“Presently there are over 100 alumni of Swiss Boarding Schools in the GCC. Most of us have been very happy with our education and the experience of having lived in the beautiful country of Switzerland.

“My own personal experience has been a lifetime pleasant one.  Ever since I graduated, I have been back to Switzerland atleast twice a year. I have kept my interest in Swiss Boarding Schools, kept in close touch with Aiglon College, joined the board of Governors 10 years ago, and am presently the Chairman of the Board of Governors at Aiglon College.

“I encourage more students and their parents to have the experience of the Swiss Schools and the beautiful Swiss environment.”
— The writer is Director, Jashanmal Group (Gulf and India) and Chairman, Aiglon College, Switzerland