Yaounde, Cameroon Report of what it's like to live there - 10/01/23
Personal Experiences from Yaounde, Cameroon
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?
3. What years did you live here?
4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
There are other schools, but they are further away and security is not as good. There are a couple of French schools, a British school, and Canadian school (not sure if it’s open yet).
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, but in my opinion, admissions requirements are ignored if there are questions about intellectual ability, social readiness, etc.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
A zero. There was zero communication when we first arrived. We experienced one hostile (to us) town hall in 2021 and there’s never been another since then. There are no brown bag lunches with the director or principals. They’ll often announce things last minute leaving parents little time to prepare/request time off. If you’re lucky to get a warm/communicative teacher, you are lucky. Unfortunately, in our experiences, there are few such teachers.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Terrible. Again, there’s zero effort to meet parents or communicate with us. If there is communication, in our experience, it is often last minute, through WhatsApp, or dismissive. It also appears that the school board has no power over administrators. Complaints from parents never make it to the board. In my experience, the administration prefers to leave everyone in the dark and primarily defends abusive behaviors children complain about.
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?
They will try to refer your child to learning support without any assessment and expect parents or place of work to pay the bill.
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?
Zero. The guidance counselor is the wife of the director. Her degree is in teaching, not guidance counseling. It appears to us that there are no behavioral support personnel and we feel that the administration has no idea how to provide a safe and warm environment for children. Yaoundé is a tough place to live and we were hoping the school would be a place for our child to experience some normalcy in their lives.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
Yes, but I'm not sure on the costs.
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
There is a library that is nice and well-stocked.
4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
Integration of technology varies by grade. The school has computers and iPads. They encourage children to use educational apps at home to improve skills.
5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
Not sure. It seems adequate given what my child has told me.
6. 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 large campus with pool, tennis court, soccer field, basketball court, and a large playground. Unlike other schools, the school rarely opens its doors to students and families after hours, so the facilities largely go unused.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
It depends on the grade. There can be 1:4 or 1:12. Most of the larger class are in k-6.
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?
They follow IB.
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?
No idea about the curriculum and to us, the seem to invent their own materials for many of the PYP classes. This is a source of frustration for many of the parents. We have no idea what they’re doing because there are no textbooks or materials that come home after school. You’ll get random copy pages of homework, but that’s it.
10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
The homework is above my child’s ability, so we have to walk them through everything. This is in addition to reading and doing educational apps. It also seems like some children are expected to do more than others, and our child often doesn’t remember what they are supposed to do. It's incredibly frustrating.
11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Music for the little ones and nothing else. There is art, but only for older children.
12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
English, but we know of some teachers who do not have the best grammar. I know this is an issue in countries everywhere, but we’ve had several arguments with our child about why something she was taught was absolutely wrong.
13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
None. They have learning support, but it wouldn’t work for a child with a complex learning disability or behavioral health issue. If you suspect your child has learning difficulties or has behavioral/emotional health needs, I would recommend you avoid this school.
15. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
16. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Not sure, but they have the option to do the program in English or French as they advance through the school. There is no bilingual program for children in the PYP, which is a real drawback.
17. 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?
Limited if your child is k-2, better options 3-5, and the best from 6 on. Even though the school receives the bulk of the tuition from k-2, 3-5, they are not catered to in anyway. You will be super annoyed every time the ASA list comes out and your child will be offered finger puppet play.
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?
Cameroon is a terribly homophobic country. While the school offers a space for all children, keep in mind the school has a lot of Cameroonian staff. They can talk about diversity and acceptance all they want, but in my own experience, it is all a bunch of lip service.
2. What is the climate for children with special needs? Is there a general attitude of inclusion for children with special needs?
In my opinion, some teachers are great, while others clearly have no clue how to work with children that have special needs. In our experiences, teachers don’t seem to understand many behaviors are out of the control of the child for kids with special needs.
3. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
Not sure, but we make an effort to invite everyone to birthday parties or over to our house for play dates. That said, our child has friends across a large pool of expats.
4. 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.
Yes, from teachers, peers, and staff. It’s been challenging to hear what our child experiences and to have zero power as the parent to get anyone at the school to take necessary steps to make necessary changes.
5. 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?
Not sure, but our child has been exposed to religions and people they never would encounter attending a school in say Europe or the US.
6. What can you say about diversity among the faculty and staff at the school and their experience in supporting minority students?
Seems to be diverse and know teachers are from all over the globe.
1. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
Our child has been fortunate to have some really great teachers. Unfortunately, this has been overshadowed by a terrible teacher who parents have complained about time and again. Our is child ready to leave and move on as well.
2. 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?
F, I can’t wait to move and get our child out of the school. Some have selected homeschooling because their child was doing so poorly. I would not have come here if I knew ASOY would be such a source of stress for our family.
3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
This school has been a huge stress in our lives. It is always something. There is no support to change things in the school so the only hope I have is that the administration turns over. Hopefully things will turn around and be as good as the American School in Douala. I just can’t wrap my mind around the cost of tuition and what we get in return for that tuition. It’s more than Harvard, but on par with the crappy schools for the poor I attended as a child.