Antananarivo, Madagascar Report of what it's like to live there - 08/22/18

Personal Experiences from Antananarivo, Madagascar

Antananarivo, Madagascar 08/22/18

Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?


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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

First and second grade. 2016-2018

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3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Diplomatic mission

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4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

There is a small British school, and the French elementary and lycee. Most non-French expats send their kids to the American school.

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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?

Yes, it was clear.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

The school does well for the new students, but could improve parent welcome. There aren't very many opportunities to meet the administration or teachers.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

Each teacher has his own style, and our two teachers were good communicators. They had dedicated websites for the class that were updated weekly, as well as weekly emails to parents. They were very responsive when we had questions. The school administration could, however, improve communication. They converted to a single email newsletter last year, but didn't inform everyone, and so many parents didn't know to look for it. The administration was not amenable to personal emails or one-on-one meetings.

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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?

Not in the elementary grades.

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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?

Not sure, our kids were young.

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2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?

No. There are a few after-school activities, but they fill up very fast and the variety is not very good.

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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, small library and the kids can take books home.

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4. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

There is a technology teacher who teaches computer science at the higher grades.

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5. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?

Kids are given a tablet for use in the classroom only. A computer at home is needed for nightly homework.

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6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

Very poor. No pool or courts. There is a court for basketball and volleyball, and some fields. Lack of sports coaches or opportunities was a common complaint, and was a primary reason some high schoolers were sent to boarding schools off the island.

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7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

About 15 per class with a primary teacher and a support aide.

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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?

IB just started this year for the upper grades. PYP has been in place for the elementary grades for several years.

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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?

This is very teacher specific, since each grade typically has a single teacher. The school follows the PYP and common core curriculum.

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10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

I think so. In second grade, they gave about 40 minutes of homework per night. I was disappointed in the lack of consistency with this, however. Some weeks were full, but as the semester wore on, the homework load lessened to zero. I had to make things up for him at night just to keep,our routine consistent.

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11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

The art teacher there was fantastic. Music was ok, and the kids put on two shows per year.

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12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?


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13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Nothing. My son was clearly advanced in one subject, and all his teacher could offer me was general advice for extra work at home. I was disappointed.

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14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Very little. My son also had a minor learning disability and the administration refused to help without a formal assessment, which wasn't available in the country. It was a frustrating experience.

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15. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

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16. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

They have dedicated instructors.

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17. 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?

Very little. Most activities in the elementary grades are arts-and-crafts based. Soccer was offered, but there was no real coach the kid said he just ran around and randomly kicked a ball. I would have like to see the school invest in this area by hiring local coaches and having more sports opportunities. My children weren't especially interested in arts and crafts, so we often organized with other parents outside of school to have group tennis, swimming, and soccer activities.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

Yes, I think so. There is a nice balance, and the kids all seem to get along.

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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.

None that I saw.

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Overall Impressions:

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?

B - I would not choose it again, but it was fine for elementary school.

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2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!

The school is small, which means excellent personal attention from teachers and a close-knit community, but also means very few non-academic opportunities and very little support for kids above or below grade level in anything. The new campus, which opened in 2017, is gorgeous, however.

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