Cotonou, Benin Report of what it's like to live there - 09/03/23

Personal Experiences from Cotonou, Benin

Cotonou, Benin 09/03/23

School Name:

QSI

Background Information:

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

Parents of kids who attended the school.

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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?

Elementary school K-5

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3. What years did you live here?

2020-2023

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

US government

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

Yes. There’s the French school, but it’s hard to get into. I think there’s a British school but don’t know any USG families who went there. We chose QSI because there are US-trained teachers and a US school experience.

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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?

Admission isn’t a thing - very easy.

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

Very welcoming. Pleasant interaction with faculty and staff.

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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?

Good communication. Via newsletter or direct contact with teachers/director.

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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 a lot of additional fees for elementary school.

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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?

No counseling at the school.

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

There are periodically after-school activities offered, some cost a little bit but they are generally free.

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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, nice but small library. Good selection of books for younger kids, not sure about older/YA selection.

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

Not for younger grades. There is a computer lab.

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

Seem decent/adequate for younger grades.

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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?

Outdoor soccer field. Small playground. No pool. Small space for indoor gym. My kids were happy but there aren’t extensive facilities.

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

7:1 and 10:1

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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?

Not sure, but I think so.

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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?

Yes, my kids worked steadily on more complex subjects, and the teachers encourage mastery of concepts (helping the kids really understand the material rather than just moving on). The school is implementing a new reading curriculum that is based on science of reading - a good update.

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

Yes, appropriate amount. Not heavy.

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

No electives for lower grades.

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

Yes.

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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.

Not sure, no experience.

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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.

Not a lot sadly. My child needed extra reading support, and we needed to seek outside resources for this.

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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?

Periodic after-school activities but no sports teams as the school is too small.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. What is the climate for children with special needs? Is there a general attitude of inclusion for children with special needs?

Yes but probably partly because there are no resources for them.

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

Yes, I think the students all generally socialize regardless of expat vs local. There are mostly expats at the schools anyhow.

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3. 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.

Not in the lower grades but I’ve heard of some issues in middle/high school.

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4. What is the climate for students who identify as ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious minorities at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Have your children had any experiences in this area?

There are many students of color at the school, and kids generally seem to not care about ethnicity/race among elementary school students at least.

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5. What can you say about diversity among the faculty and staff at the school and their experience in supporting minority students?

Staff is also racially diverse.

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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+. Our kids liked it quite a lot, but there were a few things I’d change if possible, mostly related to support services for learning/development issues.

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2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.

Highlights were small classes and welcoming atmosphere. Kids got to know kids from upper grades, it felt like a big family on campus. Challenges were sometimes small classes = not a lot of choice for friends.

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

It’s a solid school with room for improvement. The kids were sad to leave, which was great in a way. They have good memories. I think it’s harder for older students, both socially and academically (harder but not in a good way). The school is making improvements to their infrastructure offerings and clubs/sports etc. But don’t expect team sports or amazing facilities. All that said, there is a nice atmosphere on campus, and we were generally happy with our experience.

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