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UWCSEA’s Gap Year programme

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UWCSEA's gap year programme is designed to help our graduates put their ideals into action and gain valuable real world experience before going to university
Kevin Morley
Fomer School Supported Self Taught Language A teacher, Gap Year Coordinator

UWCSEA’s Gap Year programme

Getting to the grass roots of the UWC mission

Ten years ago only a handful of our graduating class postponed going to university in order to take a Gap Year; in the Class of 2013, 36 students elected to take a full or partial Gap Year.

The Gap Year programme at UWCSEA enables our students to put the UWC values into practice in South East Asia before going to university. It builds on three of the key principles of a UWC education - undertaking service to others, development of self-reliance and life skills, and gaining greater awareness or self and others.

Since the first students traveled to Kenya in 2004, the programme has evolved and now offers a range of short and longer term placements in a range of countries in South East Asia and beyond, and with a range of experiences in various fields of endeavor. These include teaching English in schools in Ladakh and Nepal, community development in the Philippines, Cambodia and India, legal education and human rights support  in Thailand and Vietnam, sports and youth work in Malaysia and Australia, environmental protection in Lombok and Tioman and opportunities in the arts including music, dance, visual arts and drama working with Tiny Toones, the international award-winning breakdance project in Phnom Penh . One student in the Class of 2013 also trialed a new placement in the Pite Bairo medical clinic in East Timor.

All of the Gap Year placements have been developed with grass-root organisations with which UWCSEA has been actively working for many years. Each project is carefully assessed to ensure that there is an opportunity for a meaningful contribution to be made by the Gap Year student. Only when the college is satisfied that the placement will be of benefit to everyone do we offer the placement to our Grade 12 students.

Before a Gap Year commences, the students, their parents, UWCSEA and the host sign a four-way Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU). This MOU sets out specific expectations for each signatory, as part of a 'service agreement' and is designed to ensure the arrangement delivers true mutual benefit. In this way, the student (and their parents!) know exactly what they are signing up for, and the NGO knows that the students we send to them are equipped with the knowledge and desire to make the most of the placement for the benefit of everyone. The agreement outlines the placements work expectations, provides for supervision, safe accommodation and insurance for the participants, as well as communication and educational commitments.

UWCSEA's criteria in implementing a Gap Year placement involves being able to truly fulfill a need and provide mutual benefit to both the host and the Gap Year student. Thinking through the skills of the UWCSEA students looking at the Gap Year placements, the idea of developing English Language training courses to better equip our students to make a meaningful contribution was developed. As a result, UWCSEA has partnered with the British Council to provide an accredited English Language Teaching course to our Gap year students, while they are still at school or have just graduated.

Learn more about how a Gap Year can help with university - and in later life - here.

Read the stories from past UWCSEA Gap Year participants below:

Ludmilla Cardoso de Brito
Class of 2013
Akshara, India
Wycliffe Onyango Omondi
Class of 2013

Lihuk Panaghiusa, The Philippines

Itamar Carrillo
Class of 2013
Pite Bario Clinic, Timor Leste
Peter Thomas
Class of 2013

Skrum, Kenya and Swaziland

Sophie Barbier
Class of 2012
Ladakh, India and Beijing, China

Michaela Vebrova
Class of 2011

Akshara, India














20 Nov 2013
Media and Republish
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