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Number of international schools in Africa to double in a decade

The number of international schools in Africa is set to more than double in the next ten years, according to research by the International School Consultancy.

International School Kenya. Photo: ISC

"Enrolment is expected to increase by 113% in the next ten years"

The international school market is rapidly growing as the number of English-medium international schools is forecast to increase from 722 institutions to a possible 1,518 by 2025.

In correspondence with the rise in the number of international schools, enrolment is expected to increase by 113% in the next ten years, to 625,000 students studying at these institutions.

“This has come about as a result of an increase in wealth”

“International school enrolment is increasingly dominated by the richest 5% of non-English speaking parents looking for places at English-medium international schools in their own countries,” said Nicholas Brummitt, chairman of ISC, to The PIE News.

“This has come about as a result of an increase in wealth. As income increases, an English-medium international school education becomes high on the list of priorities for many families.”

For the purpose of the research, ISC defined an international school as one which “delivers a curriculum to any combination of pre-school, primary or secondary students, wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country.”

If the school is located in a country where English is an official language, it “offers an English-medium curriculum other than the country’s national curriculum and the school is international in its orientation.”

Peter Bateman, executive director of the Association of International Schools in Africa, confirmed that international schools are becoming more desirable in the region, mostly in response to poor options domestically.

“The national systems are not as robust as they could be”

“In many cases, the national systems are not as robust as they could be,” he told The PIE News. “Parents are looking for alternatives and as a result of this, international schools are growing in number.”

Egypt is the country with the most international schools in Africa, with 183, followed by Nigeria and Kenya with 129 and 64 respectively. Bateman explained that the international education market in these countries is growing in correlation with other factors.

“They are hubs for international organisations as well,” he said. “Kenya has a fairly major hub for the UN, and because UN families are bringing their children here, there is a demand for international education as well. But also the economic development of those countries is moving forward successfully.”

The research by ISC has also found that 65% of international schools in Africa offer a British curriculum, all or in part alongside another curriculum.

“The economic development of those countries is moving forward successfully”

“It is a curriculum that is highly regarded and sought after throughout the world,” said Brummitt. “Particularly because it is valued by Western universities, many of which seek out schools where students have studied either a British curriculum, a US oriented curriculum or the International Baccalaureate.”

However, in a competitive market that is substantially growing, Bateman said that it is important to distinguish between an international school, and a school which just has “international” in its title.

“There are some schools that are not international in any sense,” he said.

“They’re not even offering an international curriculum, but they’re just simply putting international in their title in order to sort of establish themselves as being a cut above the others and that may or may not be the case.”

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