Accra, Ghana Report of what it's like to live there - 01/22/20

Personal Experiences from Accra, Ghana

Accra, Ghana 01/22/20

Background Information:

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

Two kids at LCS, one in middle school the other in high 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?

2017- present

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

US Embassy

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

Yes. Main "competitors" are Ghana International School (British system), Accra International School (Christian missionary school), and Rayan International School (Islamic high school). The schools fill different niches and despite some fretting from the long-term expat community that LCS risks falling behind, I haven't really seen that during my time here. LCS is quite a bit more expensive than the others so that appears to be something of a discriminating factor. Basically, if you want a secular US college prep-style school, then LCS is the only game in town.

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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?

Quite straight forward.

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

Good orientation, active PTO. There is a buddies program to help new students adjust in the younger grades.

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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?

This has been a bit of a problem but is improving. Multiple platforms have been reduced. There is a Tuesday reminder email that goes out and an app with relevant calendar items updated regularly.

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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?

Laptops are required for middle school and up. Most of the other paying activities are by choice (athletic competitions, model UN, etc.)

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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?

Generally a pretty good counseling program, particularly at the elementary and middle school levels. Good counselor-led interventions to prevent bullying. College counselors have been criticized for their focus on US universities and colleges as the school is quite diverse with a lot of graduates looking at British, European options.

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

Not sure.

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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, really quite a social hub for students. New elementary school (opening any day now!) has a huge library space.

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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?

Laptops seem pretty well integrated, seems well-managed.

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

Covered gym and several outdoor basketball/volleyball courts. Football field with covered bleachers. Good eight land pool (swim team is big here).

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

In middle school: around 19 to 1; in high school: around 14 to 1.

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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?

Full IB curriculum: Primary Years/Middle Years and Degree program. Good coordinator, most students in upper grades do the degree program but not required and, thankfully, not aggressively pushed either.

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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?

Seem to be be pushed. There are a few duds as teachers but administration is taking active steps on that front. The IB curriculum is quite rigorous on its own.

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

Varies from grade to grade and class to class. Upper elementary has decided to limit homework, which was nice. Upper grades always have some but has not been overwhelming.

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

Very good music and drama program. Band, choir, and great school plays (this winter middle school is doing Into the Woods, last year was Madagascar). Advisors are committed and good about including all who want to participate. However, I do wish there were more elective choices.

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

Yes. Ghanian accents can be tricky sometimes. Some of the local teachers are great but a few, particularly in high school, are dead wood, in my opinion.

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

Mainly on a case-by-case basis but a new admin position is focused on developing learning plans for learning disabled and for students who need additional challenge.

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13. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

New elementary school will have lifts for disabled students.

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14. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Good program to bring new English speakers up to speed, seems successful.

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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?

Standard sports, service clubs, music groups. Good Saturday program for individual music lessons (guitar, voice, piano).

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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?

Not great but improving. Ghana is a quite conservative culture and that is reflected at the school. Recently a student came out publicly as bisexual and this caused some waves among some parents but generally wasn't a big deal for students and he was elected to student council. The general climate of acceptance/support and anti-bullying policies help.

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

Handled on a case-by-case basis, depending on the available resources.

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

Seems to be a good mix of local students (Ghanaian and Lebanese), and students from all over. There is not one group that is particularly large or exclusionary. International Day is always so inspiring to see all the nationalities marching across the field.

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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?

A-. Definitely the right choice for us here in Accra.

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

Trying new sports, getting a chance to star in the school play, choir solo. Challenges have included a bit of a party scene amongst upper grade kids with pretty permissive parents. LCS has been a construction site for the past year and a half as they build a state of the art elementary building that has been delayed. It will be great when it opens but the middle and high school facilities pale in comparison. Hopefully Phase 2 will come quick!

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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!

A long and proud tradition at LCS gives it roots unlike most other international schools. Great mix of long-term expats and short timers amongst the students is a plus. Very strong school administration is recruiting outstanding teachers and developing a clear vision for the school.

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