In the mid-1960s, a regional conference of schools in East Asia was sponsored and supported by International Schools Services. Following its inception in 1964, the Office of Overseas Schools (A/OS) supported conferences through the offices of the U.S. Department of State. Through these conferences, administrators were brought together to share ideas and concerns.
A regional workshop was held for overseas schools of the East Asia area in December 1968. Sponsored by the A/OS, it was hosted by the American School in Japan. At this conference, a Memorandum of Association was presented to the administrators present. Representatives of 19 schools in Laos, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Singapore, signed the Memorandum, and EARCOS was born.
EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Schools) was founded in 1968 as a result of growth in the 1960s of U.S. schools in East Asia and the needs of these schools to develop supportive, collaborative relationships coupled with the deliverance of professional development activities to member schools. In many cases, the schools were geographically isolated, both from one another and from mainstream U.S. education.
The first EARCOS Conference was held the following year, November 24-28, 1969, at Hong Kong International School. The Constitution was officially adopted. Its original orientation was directed toward school administrators.
In addition, for many years following, there existed four sub-organizations in Asia, KORCOS (Korean Council of Overseas Schools), JCIS (Japan Council of International schools) CERCOS (Central E Regional Council of Overseas Schools) and SEATCCO (Southeast Asia Teachers’ and Counselors’ Conference) designed to bring professional development activities to faculty. These organizations were primarily run by teachers' organizations with some administrative assistance.
The Korean Council of Overseas Schools (KORCOS) was first organized in 1973 when Former SFS Headmaster Richard Underwood and former Korea Christian Academy (now Taejon Christian International School) Headmaster James Wootton met to plan a Korea-wide foreign school organization that could enhance in-service opportunities for non-DoDDs school professional staff. Seoul International School and Sacred Heart (which no longer exists as an international school) were invited to join. The first formal in-service was held at SFS in March 1974. Several additional workshops were held throughout 1974.
The Korean peninsula Department of Defense schools then organized an Educators' Day to which the Korean international schools were invited. KORCOS went into dormancy for 12 years, as international schools and DoDDs schools seemed satisfied with the DoDDs conference.
In 1988 with the recognition that there was again value in a Korea-wide conference for international schools and an increasing number of international schools on the peninsula KORCOS was reborn. The first conference of the revitalized KORCOS was held in the spring of 1989. A fall conference was also held in 1989, and since that time the annual KORCOS conference has been held each fall. Dr. Alice Lavina, first a teacher at Seoul Academy and later at Seoul Foreign School, served as president and/or conference coordinator for most of 15 years. Under her leadership and the support of the administration of a growing number of international schools in Korea, KORCOS flourished.
In 1997 DoDDs Korea dissolved its annual teacher conference and asked to join KORCOS. Since that time the conference has been known as the KORCOS - Educators' Day Teachers' Conference. The conference has grown to the point that in 2005 more than 800 teachers attended. EARCOS has generously supported KORCOS from its early days, providing a keynote speaker for each KORCOS conference.
KORCOS member schools include many schools that are also members of EARCOS, but it also serves the US Department of Defense schools and many smaller international schools that have to date not been able to afford participation in out of Korea conferences. KORCOS conferences are teacher planned, with one or more teacher representatives from each member school meeting one Saturday a month to plan KORCOS conferences and other activities. These teachers receive no compensation for their efforts, but are very committed to ensuring that these conferences provide meaningful professional development opportunities for international teachers working in Korea.
CERCOS region consisted of China, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The five major schools rotated on hosting of the conference were (I.S. Manila, Hong Kong International, TAS, I .S. Beijing and Shanghai American School.) During the last few years EARCOS and the CERCOS conference organizers planned together in order to save on hotel and speaker cost. All heads of schools supported these efforts but also discovered the high cost of personnel time being committed to organizing and hosting the event. The last CERCOS conference was held at the Shangri La Hotel in Manila.
JCIS has been a formal organization recognized by the Japanese government and is still active today. The organization meets twice a year where member schools exchange information on taxes, government regulations and other operational information important to the International Schools operating in Japan. JCIS did organize two teacher conferences within Japan but found the cost for hosting such an event was too expensive.
The “Big Four” Schools hosted, rotating City Venue to EARCOS Managed Conference Beginning in Bali 2000.
Four Hosting Schools Since 1981
- International School Kuala Lumpur Hosted in ’81, ’85, ’89 ’93, ’97
- Jakarta International School Hosted in ’82, ’86, ’90, ’94, ’98
- Singapore American School Hosted in ’83, ’87, ’91, ’95
- International School Bangkok Hosted in ’84, ’88, ’92, ‘96
Discussions began among SEATCCO 1997 ISKL Organizing and SEATCCO 1998 JIS Handover Committees that led to a request for EARCOS to consider managing 1999/2000 SEATCCO.
SEATCCO/EARCOS Task Force meets to consider the future of SEATCCO and future relationship with EARCOS.
SEATCCO was reborn as SEEC. The handover ceremony took place in November 1998 at Jakarta-hosted SEATCCO to officially transfer Southeast Asia sub region educators’ conference to EARCOS’ management. In January 1999 SEEC (SEATCCO EARCOS Educators Conference) Advisory Committee meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur to plan for SEEC 2000 in Bali, Indonesia.
The rationale for the Friendly EARCOS “Takeover” was that hosting school faculties were finding that conference organization was taking too much time from student teaching and learning. Southeast Asian School Heads supported the request from their faculties to consider an alternate approach to the long-standing, school-hosted conference. Additional rational was existence of successful regional models in other parts of the world and it was felt that such a model could be replicated.
EARCOS was willing and committed to assist the schools in the Southeast Asia sub region. Faculties from the hosting schools received assurances that the conference would retain teacher involvement in planning and workshop and idea exchange presentations. EARCOS answers the call by taking the lead with SEEC and, by popular demand, moves to one teacher conference for 2003. The SEEC Advisory Council, along with EARCOS leadership, planed and delivered a successful inaugural conference in Bali 2000. The original “Council” was comprised of teachers from Southeast Asia sub region (Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia)
The ETC Advisory Council (EARCOS Teachers Conference) now includes faculty representation from all countries in East Asia region. The ETC Advisory Council continues to advise on the conference theme, venue, city, hotel, registration, daily professional and social programs, speakers - keynote, plenary and teacher workshops – and conference evaluation. EARCOS has a commitment to seek teacher involvement and schools have supported this involvement.
Each country in the EARCOS region will have a representative appointed to the ETC Advisory Council. One EARCOS region curriculum coordinator shall serve on the ETC Advisory Council. The Council meets early in the school year and along with ETC Teacher Representatives at the annual conference.
All schools in EARCOS region have, at least, school representation and, in some cases, campus representatives. The latter depends on the size of the school. Also, each school has a designated teacher to represent their school during alternating SENIA (Special Education Network in Asia) strands. Know the responsibilities of your teacher representatives.
- Suggest speakers-keynote and plenary
- Encourage teacher workshop presenters from own school
- Organize opportunities to “test drive” teacher workshops and idea exchanges
- Collect workshops and idea exchange evaluation forms
- Provide notices and reminders regarding ETC
- Collect conference registration hotel forms and workshop and idea exchange information
- Attend ETC and arrive one day early to attend meeting and assist conference set-up
- Receive per diem, travel and hotel funding from his/her school
- Attend ETC Sunday morning “wrap-up” meeting
Thanks to Harlan Lyso and Dick Krajczar for helping compile this information.