Mbabane, Swaziland Report of what it's like to live there - 01/09/17
Personal Experiences from Mbabane, Swaziland
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
Employment at school
3. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Limited other choice, Sifundzani High School is used by a handful of families but rarely by expats.
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 - academic testing and a deposit. Entry is available into most Forms although the school is always full and boarding places are extremely unlikely to be available mid-year.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
New students at traditional entry points (F1,2 4 & IB1) have a full orientation programme. Other students will be assigned buddies.
There is not a lot of opportunity for new families to meet each other through school-organised events.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Fine - weekly newsletters and email is becoming more used by staff.
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?
No uniform. Few required costs but additional opportunities such as trips to SA.
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?
The school (because it is a UWC) is renowned for university admissions, most students achieve scholarships.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
The school has a large well-stocked library.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
There are numerous ICT rooms although connectivity is an endless source of frustration.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
Swimming pool and good coaching
MP Hall - basketball and volleyball are key school sports, also climbing wall, badminton etc.
Large field - rugby, football, hockey, athletics
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
Very subject dependent.
Lower down the school 1:26 but smaller at IB.
6. 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 full diploma is required and a number of students are not allowed to move from Form 5 to IB.
7. 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?
By the curriculum - yes, especially at IB. Very teacher dependent though.
8. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
Variable. Students will have prep almost every night but again its relevance depends on the teacher.
9. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Music, drama, visual arts are all offered academically. Also dance, poetry etc. as activities.
10. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
11. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
The school is academically selective. Once there most of the extension opportunities are outside of the classroom.
12. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
A SEN Coordinator was first appointed in 2014. The quality of provision in the classroom is extremely variable.
13. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
The school site is very inaccessible and no provision has been made previously, although there are some staff who would be willing to assist.
14. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There is an EAL lead teacher and the school offers extra lessons for EAL students.
15. 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?
A huge number, many of which are student-led. The sports are not especially high level.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
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.
This is not a big problem.
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 yes - although there are a number of teachers who have been there a long time and are very traditional who I would not want my children to be taught by.
2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
The school suffers from a lack of local competition. It is becoming less international and more South African. That said, the higher up the school the better the quality, IB provision is excellent.