Here is a question I occasionally get from prospective expats mulling over a move to South Africa: Can South Africa cater to the special educational needs of my kids? If you have children with special needs and have come to Joburg Expat for answers, this post will hopefully help you learn more about one special needs school in Johannesburg, Japari.
Despite fears of crime, the biggest fear for many South Africa-bound expats with children is whether they’re making a mistake with their choice of school. Of all the questions I get asked, school choice is always the one that seems to cause the most sleepless nights. Here is a look at the lessons we learned from sending our kids to school in South Africa (hint: they were fine).
My favorite time to walk over the leafy campus of Dainfern College was recess. There would be hundreds of kids milling about, with no teacher to be seen. No one seemed to care whether the kids used the time to eat their lunch or not. Boys would be running around barefoot, their uniforms disheveled, kicking soccer balls that would frequently hit unsuspecting bystanders.
In order to make my readers' life - and mine! - a little bit easier, I thought I'd gather all my blog posts discussing South African schools in any way, shape, or form, into one tidy list to hand out henceforth. Bear in mind that I wrote these over the course of 4-5 years, and that my knowledge of the topic evolved over that time period. Still, this is a good starting point for new expats.
I have written much about schools in South Africa. But what about higher education, i.e. going to college aka varsity? If you have high school age children and are moving to South Africa from abroad, or already have been living there and your children are approaching the end of their school career, it is most likely a topic that causes quite a bit of anxiety in you.
We loved our kids' school in South Africa, but I now realize there are many other excellent choices - and each of them packed with students, as one reader pointed out, so the parents must be happy with them. Finding the perfect school in South Africa is like selecting the perfect safari lodge: Each is unique and wonderful and you can't really go wrong with any of them.
On the surface, there is not that much to complain about school award ceremonies we've had here in the United States. They are always very well planned out, they last exactly as long as advertised, and you might even get someone to direct the parking. Organization is the name of the game. But that is where the love stops. Because they are unforgivably boring.
After enrolling your child in a South African school, the school will issue a letter to you that confirms that the child is enrolled, and the duration of the term. You will then submit this letter together with your other documents to Home Affairs to obtain the study permits, which are linked to the overall work permit allowing you or your spouse to work in South Africa.
South African private schools are an excellent alternative to international schools, but it seems there is an extreme shortage of private school spots in Johannesburg. I don't know how Cape Town fares in comparison. If you are an expat contemplating a move to South Africa and have a choice between those two cities, the school situation might be an important factor to consider.
We made a decision to enroll our kids in a private South African school, not the American International School of Johannesburg (AISJ), when we first arrived in South Africa in 2010. I like to think that we had a ton of good reasons and made a very informed choice in an elaborate pro/con list, but, truth be told, it came down to something much simpler: Good manners and an accent.