International Boarding Schools: Africa
Hardly a day goes by without an inquiry on our Boarding School Review Facebook page asking about schools in a particular city or region of Africa. These inquiries can be as general as "I'm looking for a school to attend." Some people want to send their child to a boarding school but are concerned about the cost. " need a boarding school...cheap and affordable boarding school." Some ask for schools in a specific location. "Any boarding schools around Mafikeng?" (Mafikeng is the capital of the North-West Province of South Africa.) "I'm looking for a place in Form 3 in any boarding school in Zimbabwe." With those inquiries in mind, here are some resources to help you find private schools in Africa.
The Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) bills itself as "the largest association of independent schools in South Africa and the Southern African region." Its website has an easy-to-use school finder.
Association of International Schools in Africa AISA) describes itself as "a collaborative learning community of accredited, internationally-minded schools in Africa, which provides targeted services and relevant resources, facilitates innovative programmes, and connects people."
Its website contains a directory of over 80 member schools in Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Morrocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leon, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania,, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Boarding Schools SA lists boarding schools by province in South Africa. Searching for schools in South Africa is a reasonably easy process when you have a tool like this available.
Another way to find out about schools is to ask family, friends, and your trusted advisors. Their input and advice can be invaluable.
Which school should you choose?
Choosing a boarding school for your child is a major decision. Start thinking about the idea several years before your child will begin attending her new school. You will not be successful if you start looking for a school three months before the fall term begins. Use the websites listed above to explore the possibilities. Make a list of as many schools you think might be suitable. Once you have developed your preliminary list, refine it to a shortlist of 3-5 schools. Then visit these schools whenever possible to determine if they are indeed a good fit for your child's needs and your requirements. Websites will provide a one-dimensional picture of schools. Visiting them will all you to see what the facilities and staff are really like.
This video offers a look at the boarding experience at Pretoria Boys High School.
How will you pay for it?
Most school websites will list their school fees. School fees include tuition, room and board, insurance, and a host of other charges which vary greatly from school to school. Fees are generally are payable before the term begins. Fees are generally non-refundable. Because boarding schools are usually located some distance from your place of residence, always build some flexibility into your budget for your child's schooling as well as extra expenses such as travel to and from school.
This video recounts a student's experience at a Nigerian boarding school.
How involved should you be in your child's education?
It's very tempting to be detached from your child's education simply because she is away at boarding school. But before you succumb to those thoughts, remember a couple of important truths. First of all, you know your child better than the school ever could. You have raised her, given her a strong set of core values, confidence, curiosity, and a host of other attributes which only a devoted parent can do. She needs you now more than ever. The difference is that your role has changed. Adapt your communications style to fit your new role as parent with a child not living at home. Text messages, emails, and social media posts of your activities will help her adjust to her new situation. Secondly, the school needs your support. The school, you and your child form a co-equal partnership of three. If you abrogate your part of the partnership, it will have a negative effect on your child's education. The third truth is that you will continue to encourage and support your child as she becomes an adult. Whether she continues on to college or decides to launch her own business offering some service or product which you never heard of, be there to guide her. The founders of Microsoft and Google, for example, had extraordinary ideas of what they wanted to do. Look at what they achieved.
Getting your child into boarding school is just one stop along the way. Make the most of it.
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