Accra, Ghana Report of what it's like to live there - 01/31/14

Personal Experiences from Accra, Ghana

Accra, Ghana 01/31/14

Background Information:

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

Parent.

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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?

5-7 and 7-9.

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2013 to present.

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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)?

Government.

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

This school follows the IB program.

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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?

C. You have to stay on top of the administration and teachers to find out any information.

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

C. If there are any issues, you will not be notified unless you specifically tell each teacher you want to be involved.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

Both kids are currently in middle school. Expectations are high and I feel they are being treated as if they are in college. It's a bit stressful for everyone.

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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:

B.

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

B. I want to rate this lower, but after I sat down with the teachers and asked to be kept informed, they've done a great job. I have yet to hear from my oldest child's teachers, but I also have not reached out to them.

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4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

D. We have a child with a small learning disability and they almost didn't accept him. We were not informed of this issue until after we were given a letter of acceptance and arrived in country. I guess they think changing their mind last minute is ok. Thankfully it all worked out, but we still feel like our son doesn't get all the help he needs.

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5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

A. Lots of variety for after-school activities. My kids love it.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

B.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

C. There are times when my 6th grader works on homework and projects for 4 hours a day. If your child doesn't have time management skills, s/he will struggle every night.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

B. You get a weekly newsletter and that's about it. Again, when I reach out, they made themselves available.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

A. They use a program called "managebac" and it helps a ton!!

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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?

No. I think they are challenged too much at times. I don't feel like special consideration is given for students with disabilities as they are held to the same expectations as the gifted students. A little more diversity would be nice.

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11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

Yes. One child goes to a writing workshop once a week, after school.

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12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:

No. They could use more resources. If your child has major learning issues, this is not the school for you.

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13. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:

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14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

Yes. We are very pleased.

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15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:

The only foreign language offered is French and my children studied Spanish everywhere else. I wish they'd offer Spanish, but we've been told they don't have the finances to support this.

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16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

Yes. Field trips are not covered by school fees. Sports programs travel a lot and you have to pay out of pocket for this also.

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17. What activities do you feel are missing?

None.

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18. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:

Yes. They have loved it.

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19. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

Adequate.

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20. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

Only challenge we've had is location of friends' homes. The students literally live all over the city.

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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?

A.

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2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

B.

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

C. If your child doesn't have a Mac computer, s/he will struggle in class. Students can rent computers for the day but sometimes the programs don't transfer well to your home computer

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4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

C. My kids don't like the program but a lot of that has to do with the heat.

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

B. Around 1:20

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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?

This is an IB school.

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

No. I think it's a little much and causes stress, but my kids have made it work. Lots of weekends working on homework. One great thing is projects are listed on "managebac" so the kids are given a heads-up in most cases.

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

A. We are happy with the offerings.

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

Yes, but accents can be thick. There's one teacher both my children cannot understand at all. Thankfully their friends help out.

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10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

No.

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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?

Yes. Too many to list. Very pleased.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

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

You get a mix of everything in this school. We love it!

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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.

Small bullying, but the school works fast at resolving the issue.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

After-school activities and variety of students.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Parent-teacher communication as well as the ridiculously high expectations of the kids.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Unsure. My kids enjoy the school and the friends they've made, but I've had a lot of issues with teacher communication. It has improved since the last school year. I hope it continues to improve.

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