SEK, A CENTURIES-LONG HISTORY:from the 19th to the 21st century.
José de Olavarrieta y López opened the SEK International Institution’s first school in Madrid in 1892, requesting official recognition from the city’s Central University 10 years later.
A priest, Andrés Chiclana, succeeded Olavarrieta, directing the school on Calle Atocha until 1935. Felipe Segovia Martínez acquired the school, called San Estanislao and with 50 students and 12 teachers, that same year.
The school managed to keep its doors open during the Spanish Civil War, when it was renamed Numancia due to its location in the republican area of Madrid; it switched back to its original name once the conflict was over.
When the war ended in 1939, Professor Segovia Martínez, along with his wife Carmen Olmo, provided a substantial boost to the growth of the school by opening new classrooms in other locations in the center of Madrid and a new school on Calle Arturo Soria. This growth increased the student body to over 1,500 in the 1950s, taught by 80 teachers.
In 1960, a young teaching team headed by Felipe Segovia Olmo took charge of the school’s administration, contributing new ideas for developing the schools and changing the name to San Estanislao de Kostka. They also decided to expand the Arturo Soria school and create two new schools on the outskirts of the Spanish capital.
Current SEK president Jorge Segovia Bonet assumed the school’s leadership in 1982 and undertook the challenge of giving the institution a true international presence. From then on, what has since become one of the world’s most important educational institutions became known exclusively by its acronym, SEK.
Thus begins a dream long-awaited by our educational community: to open new schools in other countries around the world. The “SEK International School – Chile” was inaugurated in Santiago in 1982; classes began in the “SEK International School – Ecuador” in Quito, considered an experimental school by the local education authorities, in October 1984. The “SEK International School – Panama” and the “SEK- International School – Ecuador” in Guayaquil opened their doors in 1986. The “SEK International School – Paraguay” opened in Asunción in 1988; the “SEK International School – Costa Rica” was established in San José that same year.
The SEK International Institution was created in 1989 as an independent body for the management of all the schools located in the Americas, making more effective and dynamic its continued growth.
The opening of new schools continued apace and in 1992 SEK acquired the “Colegio Internacional Eirís” in La Coruña, Spain; the “Colegio Internacional de Levante” in Valencia, Spain, in 1994; the “SEK International School – Pacífico” was established in Viña del Mar, Chile, in 1995; the “SEK International School – Las Américas” was opened in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, a year later, and classes at the “SEK International School – Budapest” in Hungary began in 1997. The “SEK Boca Raton Preparatory School” was inaugurated in the United States in 1999 and the “SEK International School – Guatemala” was established in 2000.
This significant growth on a global scale resulted in an improvement of all educational processes at every SEK school, putting into effect an ongoing synergy that makes mutual enrichment a constant: sharing experiences, participating in international cultural, sports and scientific programs, and creating our proprietary learning support technology ensures the highest educational quality for students.
We incorporated the “Grantham Preparatory International School” in the United Kingdom in 2004, and expanded to a new continent, Africa, in 2005. Classes began at the “Hout Bay International School” in Cape Town that same year, along with the “SEK Los Valles” school in Quito, Ecuador and the “SEK Guadalajara”.
IES (International Education Systems) was created in 2006 to provide more effective service to SEK’s new schools located outside of Spain and Latin America; that same year, SEK’s expansion in South Africa continued and the institution added the “Helderberg International School” in 2006.
Another centuries-old school, the St John's International School –with outstanding facilities that include a residence for housing students from around the world– in Sidmouth, United Kingdom, joined the institution in 2007.
The “Blouberg International School” was opened in 2008, also in Cape Town, and the Institution reaffirmed its commitment to sports by acquiring the Unión Española de Chile football team that same year.
And in 2017, the “Udine International School” in Italy joined IES.
Following over three decades of outstanding work by the “SEK International School – Chile”, a second school in Santiago, the “SEK International School – Austral”, opened in March 2018, and the “SEK International School – Colombia” was established in Bogotá.
Yet the SEK International Institution not only continues to grow in terms of students and locations, and has also expanded into academic development and degree opportunities. The creation of SEK’s own higher education centers is what led to the creation of the SEK International University in Santiago de Chile in 1989, which began offering classes in March 1990, and the National Congress of Ecuador approved the creation of the SEK International University in said country in 1993. And the creation of the Center for Higher Education in Business, Innovation and Technology in Madrid, a new SEK higher education institution in the city, was approved by the Community of Madrid in 2017.
These universities are the higher education centers that crown SEK’s process of educational and institutional development in recent years, signaling the way forward towards a multitude of diverse initiatives for SEK over the coming decades.
Today SEK is a pioneer in implementing the latest educational technologies in its classrooms, including digital whiteboards, interactive books, videoconferences, high-speed Wi-Fi in all schools, iPads in its classrooms, and the use of artificial intelligence.
Our core purpose is to offer students, parents and teachers a leading international and modern educational institution, one that delivers the highest degree of human and academic excellence in order to train the men and women of tomorrow.
Underpinned by these more than 125 years of history, the members of the SEK International Institution take pride in having dedicated their lives to a major project that crosses borders, that does not discriminate and, from an absolute independence from political and religious groups, answers exclusively to students and their families, who trust us with their children’s education.
And all with a single purpose: become better day by day.