Nouakchott, Mauritania Report of what it's like to live there - 11/14/23
Personal Experiences from Nouakchott, Mauritania
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
I am a parent of a child attending elementary school.
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
2nd and 3rd grade.
3. What years did you live here?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
This is the only supported English language school in the country. Solid French speaking options exist.
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, it is a simple process and all can be found on the school website.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
It was fine. Communication with administration and teachers is easy and the enrollment was simple. The student population is largely diplomatic kids from several missions so it is a transient population and they are used to integration at all times of the year.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Communication is solid between front office, teachers, and parents. No complaints.
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?
None that I am aware of. Sometimes we are asked to donate tissues, snacks, or little things here or there, but it is trivial.
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?
I believe there is, but the high school is so small I wouldn't recommend any prospective diplomat send their high school aged kids here. Elementary and middle school are fine.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
There are after-school activities that are free but I don't believe there are daycare services before or after.
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
It has a pretty decent library that kids are allowed to borrow from. It seems fairly up to date, but as with most things, anything you want that is brand new, can be obtained digitally.
4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
They use some things like iPads in the class, and some homework can be done via iPad as well. We haven't needed a laptop for elementary, but recommend having an iPad. Since we travel a lot with small kids, an iPad was already a necessity.
5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
Yes, and most things are kept fairly up to date. I believe there is a computer lab.
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 nice swimming pool, small gym, and lots of outdoor playing space for soccer and other sports. There is a dedicated PE instructor.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
1 teacher for every 7 or 8 students. Made for great one-on-one if needed.
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?
I believe AP is available, but not 100% sure as my kids weren't anywhere near this grade.
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?
The mixed classroom where grades are combined sometimes felt weird because I thought my daughter would get homework that was too difficult for her grade and the teacher would confuse who was in what. In her second year it was the opposite where I thought the content was too easy. Her standardized testing scores have been great so I guess whatever they are doing works.
10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
This fluctuated a lot depending on teacher. Overall I think it has been fine.
11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Music and drama were all available. The music teacher is great.
12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Yes. Instruction is in English and all teachers are fluent.
13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
None that I am aware of but I believe AP classes are an option.
14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Very limited if any.
15. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Not much. Speech therapy can be largely online now, but Nouakchott as a whole is very limited.
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.
Younger age kids don't need English, and they learn through integration, but starting in later elementary, it is required.
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?
Swimming, soccer, badminton, basketball. It isn't a huge school so very limited in terms of team sports.
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?
It is very inclusive but there are limited services for kids with special needs.
2. 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?
None that I am aware of. Technically illegal in Mauritania but the dip community is very supportive.
3. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
Yes, it is very integrated. Local kids with invite and get invited to birthday parties.
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.
Nothing that I am aware of.
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?
A very tolerate climate. Mauritania is a blend of African and Arab populations. The school has dozens of countries represented in the students and faculty. Because there is no ethnic majority in the country or in the school, pretty much everyone at the school is a minority and it makes for a welcoming environment.
6. What can you say about diversity among the faculty and staff at the school and their experience in supporting minority students?
It is very diverse and all students feel supported. Our daughter has had teachers from all over the world.
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?
C+ or B- It's fine for elementary kids but also very small. There were some issues with the front office during my time here that the board remedied, but overall we have been pleased. Not great, but it's fine. Would have no problem coming again with elementary aged kids.
2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
Mixed classes with split grade levels would often receive work on "accident" meant for the older or younger kids. My child has loved the experience though.
3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
In my opinion, I would avoid with older children. It has been a good experience with younger kids. The Embassy is very involved with the school and feedback is taken seriously by the board.