What is the name of your child's school? (Please report on one school per survey.)
International School of Kigali
In what town or city is this school located?
How would you describe this school? (i.e. American, British, International, Local, etc.)
What grade levels are represented at this school?
How do most children get to school everyday? (bus, train, walk, etc.)
The cost of the school essentially limits the student population to ex-patriats working in well paying jobs in Rwanda. As a result, most children get to school via car driven by their parents or their parent's drivers.
How would you describe the facilities at this school? What extra-curricular activities are available?
The school uses a converted hotel for it's facilities: The rooms are small and cramped and not appropriately equipped to be classrooms. Also, the campus consists of two sets of building on the same road but separated by .5 km. So when children in the lower set of buildings have PE they must walk the .5 km to the other campus. In addition, there is inadequate open space for recreation so it is a common occurrence for smaller children to be injured (e.g., hit in the head with a basketball or soccer ball). There is also virtually no recreational equipment for the younger children. In short, during recess periods, the lack of space, overcrowding, and lack of equipment create dangerous conditions for smaller children, a circumstance that is exacerbated by a fundamental absence of adequate supervsion.
There are few extracurricular activities outside of sporadic soccer games organized for the older boys. But even with these there is no regular practice or effective coaching.
What has this school done to help your child transition from the curriculum in your home
country into the curriculum in your new country? Are there programs to prepare your child for repatriation?
This school does nothing to help children transition from the in-country curriculum to their home country curriculum. The curriculum for some grades pretends to parallel that in some US states. However, there is no classroom, curricular, or teacher supervision to assure compliance with curricular standards. The teachers come from various parts of the world and generally teach what they want how they want.
How would you describe the social activities available for parents through this school? Are there parent-teacher organizations?
There is a parent-teacher organization - and the school consistently maintains that it is a parent-run organization. But keep in mind that the US government heavily supports the school in return for which the school is required (yes, contractually required) to accept all children of US government employees. The US government also has several employees prominent in the parent-teacher organization. In other words, the parents (who are US government employees) have a substantial (disproportionate???) say in how the school is run. If you are outside this circle, the idea that the school is actually parent-run by a representative group of parents is somewhat misleading (at best).
What advice would you give to someone considering enrolling their child in this school?
My advice to someone considering enrolling their child in ISK would be to reflect on the following: First, there have been allegations of financial misconduct centering on the administration and management of the school for several months over the past year (2011). Rather than deal with these allegations in a straightforward, honest manner and thoroughly investigate them, the practice has been to publicly ridicule those individuals who have raised the questions and to closely guard relevant information.
Second, the school has had serious problems with bullying, particularly in the lower grades. Parental efforts to confront the problem and move the school to deal with these issues effectively have been met with belligerance, obsfuscation, and outright lies - this from top administrators at the school as well as school board members. In addition to outright lies about what the administration has done or said it would do, the response has been that there is no bullying at ISK and that suggestions to the contrary are parental overeaction.
For both of these situations, the efforts to deny or obfuscate what many see as reality eerily parallels what has happened at Penn State. These kinds of situations happen because there is a culture of loyalty to institution and, in the case of ISK, also the need to protect funding sources. Such concerns may have trumped traditional ethics and the effective protection of children.
Unfortunately, there are few good school options in Kigali - one of the many aspects that make Kigali and Rwanda in general a very hard place to live. My advice is that, if you cannot find another school option outside of ISK that seems suitable, be prepared to very closely monitor your child, his/her teacher, and what goes on at ISK.