Kampala, Uganda Report of what it's like to live there - 11/04/19
Personal Experiences from Kampala, Uganda
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?
Year 11-DP2. In American schools the sophmore to senior.
3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
yes, there are a few other options. We chose KISU because it mentioned a few things on the website that interested us, they kept answering my inquiries (ISU quit answering them), and upon arrival and tour, we were told everything we wanted to hear.
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?
At first I found them very welcoming.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
They communicate via email or other computer/cell phone based manners. Considering how bad internet was our first 2 years it made it very hard to keep up. Messages for meetings or money would come up with a two day notice. Things have gotten slightly better but not much.
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?
Uniforms, musical instrument rental, field trips + visas on occasion. I don't recall all of the prices but most recently we needed to come up with US$800, not Ugandan shillings, about 1 week notice for a trip. They said they sent an email when I told them we were out of country with little to no internet and that email never arrived.
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?
There is a reasonably new counselour at the school as of last year. I do not know what she knows about other worldwide universities but the school did a college "roundup" of sorts.
2. 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 is a decent sized by (my son describes) "an American public school has a bigger library". Some books may be available to check out but he has been told books weren't for his class so he could not borrow them
3. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
You do need a laptop and a few things might be available with tuition. in DP1 we paid for a Chromebook. Almost everything is on the computer at the level my son is at. All homework assignments, grade reports, researching, and contact with teachers. The general comment back from the school when we were struggling with internet working (often out for a week at a time) was that that was our problem. That being said, we are 3 years in and finally have good internet.
4. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
There is a lab. The computers are older and very slow.
5. 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, a large field, and a swimming pool. We were told he'd be in the pool at least once weekly.
6. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
That changes a lot per grade, per semester, per year with the kids coming and going and turn over of teachers, even during the school year.
7. 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?
it is an IB school but the IB diploma is not required.
8. 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?
I understand that each teacher is allowed to teach in their own manner which may mean that some kids do not learn well in that environment. I do know, however, that in some upper levels English classes xerox copies of books are given instead of real book. Sometimes that pages are in the wrong order, sometimes incomplete.
9. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
I believe so.
10. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
I don't know of any students over 8th grade taking music but I am not positive. Theatre is only up to year 11 (sophmore) although we were told he could take it until he graduated. Visual arts is available but my son came to me today to tell me his teacher has gone on strike for lack of being paid for 2 months so I don't know if it will continue or not.
11. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Uncertain but i believe they all do.
12. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
From all i've heard there is nothing.
13. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Unknown, but there are ramps but no elevators on campus.
14. 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?
futball (soccer), basketball, and swimming as far as i know. Other activities change three times a year and have included various types of dance, cooking, art, music, sewing, drama (not seniors/DP2)
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?
Uganda is NOT a LGBTQ friendly country at all.
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 are cliques but they aren't exclusionary and my son has witnessed nothing he would call bullying.
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?
i believe that a large part of education is up to the student applying themselves but considering the things we have dealt with or seen I would say unless your older child is a strong straight A, self-starter type of student, I would not apply here. Having spoken with parents from the other popular school, I would not have placed Uganda on our bidlist at all.
2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
My son came into the school unprepared since I asked for summer homework and a reading list and we were told there was none. Then on the first day of school they tested on a book from the previous year. We were told my son could study cooking, business, theatre, and art until he graduated. By December of his first year they made him drop cooking since it began the year before, which we had not been told, and business. He was made to drop theatre after the first year because there was none for the older students. Several teachers left during the school year with no notice and students were taught the wrong book in one English course. He also was dropped from IB diploma to IB certificate because he had to drop Spanish due to the teacher having problems with all the male students because she preferred females students (she said so in class; the administration was aware of this but left my son and the other boys to deal with this on their own which resulted in poorer grades). My son's saving grace has been a small handful group of good friends, most of whom have already left, and one good art teacher who also has moved on. His new art teacher is currently on strike. The headmaster has been patient with some of our concerns.
3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
There are some kind and patient people working at KISU but if I knew then what I know now, I would not have placed my son here.