Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania Report of what it's like to live there - 04/26/14
Personal Experiences from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
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?
KG, 6-9th grades.
3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
There are not many options in Dar es Salaam. The handful of other 'international' schools are still developing.
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 Secondary Admissions is excellent. Very welcoming and supportive to new families.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
The Primary School has a wonderful environment. You feel a strong sense of it when you are on campus. Strong sense of community. Dedicated teachers. Content students.
The Secondary School is a different situation. There is a lot of stress on the kids. The teachers are not always very experienced teachers. The atmosphere is just very different from the primary school and not as comfortable.
2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:
At the Secondary School, it varies considerably depending on the teacher. There is a degree of inequitable treatment.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
In Primary School it has been excellent. In Secondary School, it varies greatly depending on the teacher and the situation with the student.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
Limited. I would not disclose learning difficulties to the school. Parents who have disclosed often face many challenges from labels being placed on children and feelings of not welcome. Some parents of children with learning challenges have withdrawn their kids and placed them in one of the other international schools, where they felt less of a burden and unwelcome.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
Very limited in secondary school.
6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
Primary school has good standards and the teachers help the students grow to the high standards. In Secondary, the standards are also high, except many of the teachers are often critical of the students and do not seem to really help a student grow into him/herself. Many of the teachers are quite young and lack experience.
7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
In Secondary School, the students get a lot of homework. The school is not very organised and it is not uncommon for all classes to give homework on the same day and due on the same day. I have attended other schools where the homework was much more standardised and spread out so that the students do not get the homework piled on the same day. Teachers lack empathy when students explain that there is a lot of homework all due on the same day.
8. Administration-parent communication:
Average. There is a weekly newsletter. In general, the school has done a good job communicating general issues of wide concern to parents in a timely manner.
There has been a serious challenge in the Grade 7 math with parents writing a formal letter to the principal that was not adequately answered. It was brushed away.
9. Teacher-student communication:
In Secondary School it varies widely depending on the experience and maturity of the teacher. There are a lot of less experienced teachers and some of their communication with students borders inappropriate. Students have cited examples of ridicule by some teachers.
10. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?
11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:
13. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:
14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
Yes, the classes are offered.
15. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
Very little. When it does cost more, the cost is for an understandable activity, such as, PADI diving certification.
16. What activities do you feel are missing?
17. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
No. Those offered were not interesting to them.
18. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
19. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
The drug and alcohol abuse amongst the secondary students is a challenge.
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?
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
IST has a decent libary.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
Fair. Considering where we are located in Eastern Africa, it is probably considered average.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
Normal--secondary school has a wide variety of activities through out the year. Primary school has a variety of age appropriate activities.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
The school faces huge pressure from the private and development sectors to meet the growing demands. As a result, the class size is increasingly becoming large. In the early childhood years, it is not uncommon to find class size of 22 children, which is very high for an international school and high considering the increasing tuition costs.
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?
7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
No. There is a lot of homework in secondary school and the assignment is not coordinated. It is not uncommon for almost every class to give out homework due on the same day. This causes a lot of stress and anxiety for the students.
8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Limited. However, not that different from other nearby African countries.
9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
11. 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?
Secondary School--No. However, I suspect the students are not interested.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
There is a large expat community and socialising is normal. However, there is a problem with drug and alcohol use amongst Secondary School students. Many parents have asked the counseling office to run discussions and training to parents on how to lessen the impact of drug and alcohol use. The school has not responded.
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.
In Secondary School there are groups. However, bullying does not seem to be a problem.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
At Primary School--dedicated competent teachers.
2. Greatest challenge?
The caliber and experience levels of the secondary teachers. There is a lot of room for improvement.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
If I were moving to Tanzania, there are little alternatives. However, I would reconsider a job offer, knowing now what I know about the secondary school.