Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan Report of what it's like to live there - 11/08/22
Personal Experiences from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
8 year-old (studying there since she was 4)
3. What years did you live here?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
I work with snow leopard conservation. Kyrgyzstan hosts the organizational set up of an intercountry alliance for conservation of snow leopards and its mountains that I coordinate.
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
QSI school's fees are comparable to other international schools in the city, but the small classes and personalized attention each child gets as part of the mastery learning program make them stand out. The school is an accredited international school through MSA (Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools). It has nice facilities for children to play in, including a gym, a mini-football pitch, a renovated basketball court, and brand-new equipment in the play area for kids. There is a canteen where meals are prepared fresh for the kids in a hygienic manner that any parent can go and see (they have an open kitchen). A security firm provides high-level security, there is a trained pediatrician on campus, and teachers certified as lifeguards to take children to swimming classes. The school administration is exceptionally responsive and communicative, and they take feedback and suggestions seriously, and their events calendar is full of exciting opportunities for kids to learn beyond the four walls of the classrooms.
Admissions & Welcome:
1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
The administration and others at the school including the director are accessible and open to any queries and concerns from the parents.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
The teachers stay in touch with parents with specialized apps such as Class Dojo, and meet them periodically to update the status of the students' growth during parent-teachers. meeting. There is an active community of Parents Support Group comprised of active parents who regularly interact with and provide support to the school in various activities and events. The school also has an advisory board that meets every few months to discuss the issues about the school's operations, finances and enrollments. Lastly, the teachers and director are always accessible to meet in person, should any parent have the need.
2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?
None of the regular school activities incur any additional payments than the school fees. Only some field trips and afterschool classes require separate payments. These are also optional and may cost around $100 over the entire year.
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
Counselors are based in Almaty and visit the school frequently. In addition, they are available to the community and students online all the time.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
After-school activities and daycare are available, and usually do not incur additional costs
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Yes, it has a rich collection of books, magazines and journals, and is periodically updated. Students can borrow books to read home for up to a week.
4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
School provides laptops and ipads. Teachers interact and track homework, if at all, through apps such as ClassDojo
5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
There are projection systems, CCTV cameras and computers in each classroom.
6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
There is a gym, play area, a basketball court and a foosball court in the school, in addition to a table-tennis table and partnership with a club that offers swimming classes as part of after-school activities.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
1 teacher per 10 students is the average our daughter has been in.
8. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
Yes, the school offers AP courses.
9. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?
The most impressive part of the school's model for learning is the mastery learning program where students are evaluated based on their individual skills and strengths. The method allows teachers to focus on specific areas for each student individually, without putting undue pressure on exams for each student.
10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Students can learn music, drama, and art.
12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Teachers are very sensitive to gifted and advanced students and make the needful adjustments that the Mastery learning process allows for, especially with a high student: teacher ratio.
14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Classes and the majority of the campus is disability friendly.
15. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Greater emphasis on speaking in English with peers, great teachers with an immeasurable amount of patience and perseverance, and regular events and activities encourage students that speak English as a second language to improve their skills in the language.
16. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?
Kids can join music, dance, drama, nature camps, swimming, craft making, football, basketball, table tennis, athletics, swimming, taekwondo, and chess as part of the extra-curricular activities.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
All the time. You can observe no segregation whatsoever among students from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds
2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
There might seldom be a place entirely free of these problems, even if issues such as gender or ethnic stereotyping can be considered milder as opposed to bullying and exclusionary behavior. However, this is where teachers' roles become important, and so far any such instance that I have come across has been dealt with promptly and tactfully by the teachers as well as the school administration.
3. What is the climate for students who identify as ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious minorities at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Have your children had any experiences in this area?
Teachers and administrators play an important role in ensuring there is no discrimination or challenges minorities face at school
4. What can you say about diversity among the faculty and staff at the school and their experience in supporting minority students?
The staff is as diverse as it can get. I have seen teachers from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, USA, UK, France, Morocco, India, South Africa, South Korea, and many other countries teach. As per my limited observation, there are more women than men in the entire school's staff strength.
1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?
A. Definitely will choose it again
2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
Our daughter was 4 when she started kindergarten at QSI Bishkek. Her growth from a home-bound baby to a confident toddler was evidently spectacular, encouraging us to continue with her education in elementary school. The teaching methods and the qualified teaching staff are the unique selling proposition for the school, which, to my partner and me was the most important part. The fact that our daughter looks forward to school days, and has grown immensely in her skills and knowledge is testimony to the school doing a wonderful job.
3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
Look around, explore and ask questions. Visit all schools that are accessible, and then take a call about the school that fits your and your children's needs best.