Challenges of an African education

Assignees moving to Africa often find the process uniquely challenging, owing to immigration complexities, security issues and cultural considerations. Those with school-age children face the added challenge of choosing a suitable education pathway. We look at the availability of international schooling in the region, and offer advice to help parents choose a school.

Challenges of an African education article
International Guide 18/19 video
The following article is from Relocate Global's Guide to International Education & Schools 2018/19 which is packed with expert tips and information for those relocating and the professionals supporting them. 
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With significant economic growth and one African country forming the ‘N’ in MINTs (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey), the countries expected to become economic powerhouses of the future, the continent of Africa is coming into sharper focus in the world of global mobility as organisations across the world, in search of growth, look to it for new opportunities. According to 2018 figures from the World Bank, six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa, with Ghana taking the top spot.As emerging markets such as India and China continue to mature, investors are increasingly looking to Africa – which provides one of the largest returns on investment in the world, but is not without significant risks. It has seen large multinationals opening in the region in recent years and Chinese companies are notably investing in Africa. Chinese ICT company, Huawei is a case in point – it operates in 40 countries across the region.

School choice

Luckily, for those on assignments to Africa, international schooling has also seen something of a boom in the region.It is likely that relocating assignees with accompanying school-age children will look for an international school offering either a curriculum that follows the same learning programme as their home country or an internationally transferable curriculum. And there are many to choose from.The majority of international schools in Africa offer the UK curriculum, but just under a third offer the US curriculum. The IB is growing in the region with 98 schools in 29 African countries offering one or more of the IB programmes. The IB has had a presence in the region since 1977 when The International School of Moshi in Tanzania became the first school to offer the IB Diploma programme, since adding the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programme (MYP).In 2015 Braeburn Garden Estate School in Kenya was the first school in Africa to offer the newest of the IB’s suite of programmes – the IB Career-related Programme.Increasingly international schools are opening in the region to cater for the growing African middle-class looking for a Western style education for their children in addition to large expatriate communities in key hot spots such as Nairobi, Kenya.

Safety and security

In the Cartus Biggest Challenges survey, safety and security topped the list of concerns for respondents asked to consider the region’s greatest challenges for managing relocation programmes. This, says Cartus, is likely to have been driven by anxiety over continued unrest in many areas.Sarah Teasdale, lead consultant and managing director of Educatus, an education consultancy offering services to both the relocation industry and private individuals, strongly advises anyone looking for an international school to examine its accreditation carefully and, ideally, seek specialist advice.While the quality and safety of an international or British school can often be verified by the Embassy or High Commission, says Ms Teasdale, there is extra difficulty when moving into a region where there appears to be a large offering of international schools.“In some countries, such as Kenya and Egypt,” she explains, “local entrepreneurs have poured money into building schools and paying for the marketing of these institutions. Unfortunately, the quality of schooling and the educational value can be questionable, and, in many cases, not recommended. When faced with choice, it is best to seek expert advice.”It is advisable for families to shortlist schools that are accredited by larger school membership groups, such as the Council of International Schools (CIS), which demands that a member school has achieved high standards of professional performance in international education.The British Schools Overseas programme, run by the British government, inspects and accredits international schools overseas. Successfully inspected schools are permitted to display its kitemark on their marketing materials. The Council of British International Schools (COBIS) also has a number of accredited schools in the region.
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