What’s it like to teach in Africa? (And why consider it)
Angela Adamu was born in Nigeria and educated in both Nigeria and the United States. She’s worked for more than 20 years in teaching, school administration, consultancy, teacher education, and social entrepreneurship. Her career has taken her to five countries – Argentina, Nigeria, Mozambique, Chad, and the United States – and to schools with various curricula: American (Standards based), British, integrated British, integrated Nigerian and American, and Turkish. Here, she shares a little about why teachers should consider working in Africa – and how to go about researching jobs and destinations.
Why would you recommend teachers consider working in Africa?
Africa is a diverse if not the most diverse continent on this planet, yet there is a generally misguided tendency in other parts of the world to refer to Africa as one country rather than the over 50 countries that make up the continent. African countries have big developed cities, infrastructure, social amenities, and skylines. We also have beautiful homes, beaches, urban, and rural areas, shopping and recreational facilities, and entertainment.
This diversity means that educational programs are similarly quite varied. Teachers and educators not only have different countries to choose from, but this variety is also reflected in the different types of schools.
I would say that a major advantage for choosing to work in Africa is that compared to countries like the U.S. and U.K., the cost of living in African countries is considerably lower, while the remuneration packages are quite attractive. It’s a great opportunity to save and learn about other cultures.
**How can teachers find work in Africa?
There are several international recruitment agencies that post available positions and recruit on behalf of schools. I definitely recommend that teachers who want to teach in Africa utilize such agencies, especially teachers venturing into international teaching for the first time.
Teachers with more international teaching experience have other resources at their disposal. I have a strong network of international teaching colleagues from institutions I worked in and fellow postgraduate international education alumni. Job openings are usually sent out through these networks. In the past, I’ve also used LinkedIn to post vacancies and recruit heads of schools, so that’s a good recruitment platform as well.
Where would you recommend teachers consider looking for opportunities?
In terms of where to consider, this depends on each teacher and their interests. It is, however, really important to take the political climate into account. It’s easy to classify African countries as largely unsafe, and while it’s inaccurate to make such blanket assumptions, like everywhere else, it’s always a good idea to conduct research into the political atmosphere of any country before moving there. This is one area where the recruitment agencies can certainly help. I would also caution against gleaning information from only one source. Sometimes, the information on the internet is outdated. I encourage teachers to reach out to schools directly via representatives or emails. The interview process is also a good opportunity to ask questions and learn more about living and working in certain countries. One of the best success stories and economic turnaround right now is Rwanda so if anyone is looking…
What credentials must teachers have when applying for work in an African country?
The basic requirement for most international positions is a teaching qualification/certification and some cases, previous experience. Many countries specifically request for certified teachers and the certification depends on the curriculum. Some job postings specify the years of experience though that tends to generally be around 1-3 years and they may also require previous experience or familiarity with a specific curriculum such as the British National curriculum, IBPYP, American, and Japanese or others.
You introduced the Backward Design planning method while in Chad. What is that and what did it aim to do?
The AISN curriculum was a standards based curriculum. What we did was to change the way teachers met those standards by working backwards in a sense. Backward Design is part of the larger Understanding by Design framework developed by McTighe and Wiggins and the focus is on meeting standards through a three-step process. First, identify the goals/results. Second, determine what would serve as acceptable evidence of learning. Third, plan or design learning experiences. Basically, the goals and assessments are determined before lessons are planned, which is the reverse of the more traditional approach of teaching first and then designing the assessments.