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Education for Expats and Family in Angola

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Moving to Angola for work, most of the employees are interested in the high level of educational services available either for themselves or for their families. Standards of education in this country cannot be called the world’s best as Angola is still recovering from hard consequences of an exhausting war; however, available premium private educational options can compensate the disappointment caused by the level of education in public schools. People who migrate to Angola for work usually don’t consider public schools at all, and you’ll soon find out the reason why. Studying in this country has peculiarities you should reckon with choosing an institution. Although the cost of education in Angola is very high even for an elite private institution, the benefit hides in possible discounts your hiring company can provide you with.

Less than 1 percent of the Angolans attend universities, so you can imagine how many of them go the whole way to become the Ph.D. The country has bilateral agreements with educational institutions of Brazil, Portugal and even Cuba, but the number of students studying in foreign universities is very scarce and limited to the country’s elite. The general literacy remains quite low: 83% of males and 54% of females can read and write in Portuguese.

Shoulder to shoulder with the UNICEF, the government invests in reconstruction and construction of new schools. In 2010, the government started to build the national Media Libraries Network that is intended to simplify access to knowledge through multimedia resources and access to the internet. According to the plan, by 2017, every Angolan province must have such online library. In 2014, the government was going to invest at least 16 million EUR in a reconstruction of classes and training new teachers.

Public Schools

Although education in Angola is compulsory (for 4 years) and free, the percentage of enrolment in primary schools isn’t high – approximately 70% of kids, mostly boys. The government explains such passiveness with a lack of teachers and buildings. Kids usually get enrolled in schools when they are 7. The Angolan school year lasts approximately 170 days. After studying in 4 compulsory “grades”, children reluctantly choose to continue education in a secondary school where studying lasts for another 7 years. Only 70% of teenagers can read and write in Portuguese.

The former Portuguese colony defeated its independence in 1975. A long civil war that lasted for almost three decades starting from 1975 left lots of schools in ruins and changed the people’s attitude to education: during the war, most of them were interested in surviving. Issues with ID papers, a danger of landmines and poor health were common reasons why families couldn’t enlist their children in local schools.

Now the government makes titanic efforts to rebuild the educational system. Angola digressed from the catholic educational basement, nationalised religious schools, and adopted Cuba’s Marxism-Leninism ideology as the pedagogical base of primary education. The ministry of Education invited Cuban teachers to Angola in order to increase the literacy rate.

Today, public Angolan schools are definitely a safe place for studying. The issue is usually associated with the quality of the studying. While the standards of teaching in primary schools are quite acceptable, in later grades, the standards are very erratic because of low attendance and a poor assortment of extra-curricular activities.

Public schools are often overcrowded numbering up to 50 students in each class. Some of them are open air while others don’t have necessary facilities. Studying outside the school walls is a common situation, and such open-air classes are often cancelled when it rains. Although the education in such institutions is free of charge, there are lots of additional fees and costs.

Angola lacks highly-qualified teachers: all of them have university degrees for ending a 5-year course, but not all of them are teachers with a pedagogical qualification relevant to the subject they teach. It often happens that teachers in Angola are underpaid and overloaded: sometimes they have to work 2-3 shifts a day. To solve the issue, the government employed over 20 thousand teachers back in 2005. Lack of funding remains the main problem of the Angolan education. Even private schools often find it challenging to find a highly-qualified teacher who would like to live and work in Angola.

As mentioned above, very few children decide to get the secondary education. The reasons are 2: firstly, it depends on the family traditions as some parents prefer to have their kids beside them in order to have some help, and secondly, secondary institutions are usually located in bigger cities, and families cannot arrange such relocation. Even those who decide to enlist have a choice whether to study only 3 years (of 7) or to have the full course including next 4 pre-university grades. In any case, whatever duration a student chooses, they get a secondary school certificate. This certificate is their ticket to a higher education institution.

Private Schools

Intended to cover the deficit of high-quality primary or secondary education, private institutions are usually costly options affordable by families with means. Today’s Angolan private schools are a perfect solution for expatriates with salaries and religious people who cannot enlist their children to Marxist public schools. The private education costs an arm and a leg in Angola (like everything else, however: Luanda once was dubbed as the world’s most expensive city). Tuition fees may reach 40k USD per year. Probably, the prices were developed according to high salaries in the most prestigious sectors of Angola’s economy – oil and diamond production.

FYI, the cost of studying in such private school can be lower (or even fully compensated) if the company that hired you has an agreement with the school. In Angola, companies and organisations who act as founders for a private school, give their employees a privilege to teach their children cheaper or even free of charge. You should ask your employer about this opportunity, for sure. If you accept the job without such schooling allowance for your children, you risk spending a fortune on their education. In any case, if you have got a job in Luanda and need to take care of your children’s education, it is okay to negotiate with your employer about the compensation of a part of the tuition fees.

Classes in such schools are, of course, smaller and the curriculum and way of teaching are more progressive. They often adopt educational models of the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and other developed countries. Add to this an opportunity to learn a few foreign languages and get accredited for the IB exams (international baccalaureate).

Also, take into account that most of these private international schools are located in Luanda and they often become a choice of ambassadors and country’s officials who also have children. The waiting list can be quite long.

Let’s look through the best 4 international schools located in Luanda:

1. Luanda International School – LIS
Annual tuition fees: 25k USD – 33k USD.
Annual tuition fees: 25k USD – 33k USD.
Facility fees: 15k USD.
Companies-founders (Exxon/Esso, Chevron, BP, Halliburton, Schlumberger) and ambassadors are prioritised to teach their children in this the most prestigious private school. Some families wait for enrolment for 2 years, so it’s recommended to apply and get recorded in its waiting list as soon as possible. Kids can study here from their pre-school years and until the grade 10. The international baccalaureate program is also available. School’s facilities include a swimming pool, sports fields, library, cafeteria, as well as computer, music and art rooms, but remember that you separately pay a solid fee for these facilities. The school is located outside Luanda.

2. English School Community of Luanda Angola
Annual tuition fees: 17k USD – 30k USD.
Families of ambassadors and non-governmental organisations are prioritised. This private English-speaking school has adopted British and South African models of education and teaches children according to the U.S. school calendar. Kids are instructed here in English from their pre-primary years until the grade 9.

3. Lycée Français Alioune-Blondin Bèye Tuition fees: 200 EUR – 900 EUR per quarter.
French companies (Technip and Total) are prioritised to get children of their employees enrolled. Children study here from their preschool years until the end of secondary school. The language of instruction is French, and English is studied as a second language. The school adopted the school calendar of France and is directed by the Ministry of Education of France.

4. Escola Portuguesa de Luanda
Annual tuition fees: contact the school official to learn the fee.
The school was created for Portuguese and Brazilian families who migrate to Angola, but English is also taught here as a second language. The school teaches children from pre-primary years till the end of secondary school according to the European calendar.

Another question is about how children get to the school. Unless parents can give their child a lift by car, there are usually school buses provided by the school’s sponsoring company. Mothers usually cooperate and appoint one “bus mom” who would accompany the kids to the school from the area of their accommodation.

Higher Education in Angola

The first national government-funded university (today, it is called Universidade Agostinho Neto) was established in 1962 when the country’s struggle for independence began. Today, Angola has many higher educational institutions both public (8) and private (7). There are also a number of religious institutions (for example, Universidade Católica de Angola or Universidade Metodista de Angola) and those associated with European organisations (Universidade Lusófona).

Angolan government guarantees a free higher education in public institutions for those students who hold the secondary school certificate, prove their Portuguese proficiency, and show good results during the entrance exam. This exam is mandatory regardless of the type of university – public or private. Students study for 3 years to get the Bachelor’s Degree (Bacharelato), and then another 2 for the Master’s Degree (alicenciatura). Another 6 years will take an Angolan student to get the Doctorate Degree (licenciatura).

The national university has campuses all over the country (in Cabinda, Huambo, Benguela, Lubango, Uíge, and Malanje) that already became autonomous institutions (for example, Huambo’s Universidade José Eduardo dos Santos or Cabinda’s Universidade 11 de Novembro). There is also a polytechnic university in Huambo.

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