From the Ivory Coast to Madagascar, Africa is a huge continent that is home to billions of people with varying nationalities, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds. African countries span lush beaches to vast deserts, and no country is like the next. Teaching abroad in Africa in any one of these countries is sure to impart lasting wisdom, whether that is a new teaching philosophy, an increase in cultural competency, or the personal experience of educating young Africans. From sprawling cities to rural villages, teachers are in demand to educate the next generation in growing school communities.
Why Teach Abroad in Africa
It’s no secret that teachers are more in demand in Africa than any other continent. Due to economic and political growth in many African countries, more schools are being built which opens the door to more children gaining access to education. International teachers are drawn to African countries because of the opportunities to teach almost any subject, from English to the arts.
Many schools in African countries are privately run international schools, most of which are taught in English or run as bilingual programs. International teachers who teach in Africa generally report high levels of satisfaction with their classes, as most schools use Western educational philosophy. Teaching or TEFL certifications are required to teach abroad in Africa at international schools. However, other small local schools that likely teach English as a second language welcome volunteers with English competency and may not require certification.
In a continent as spacious as Africa, which is home to 53 countries, all with vastly different histories, heritages, and political climates, it may be hard to narrow down where you want to teach abroad. Though most picture Africa as a sparse desert with small schoolhouses, Africa is a diverse land, with industrialized cities, small towns, and agrarian villages. Teaching in Africa can thus look very different, depending on the country and city of your placement.
Ghana, located in Western Africa, is a predominantly English-speaking country with modern educational benefits, and it is an extremely safe African country. This country is one of the friendliest too, and international visitors and teachers alike boast huge community support. Though most citizens speak English, teachers are in demand to hone students’ writing skills, and to teach science or math and even physical education.
A uniquely African country, Ethiopia, is the only country on the continent never to have been colonized. In Ethiopia, there are few large cities but most people live in small, rural towns. English courses are mandatory in secondary schools; this means that there is no shortage of need for teachers of varying experience.
At the tip of the African continent is South Africa, a country with an extensive political history and immense natural beauty. English is an official language of this diverse nation, so the demand for teachers in urban cities is small; however, in rural areas, English teachers can find numerous opportunities to teach English abroad. If you’re interested in teaching science or math courses, you may be able to arrange teaching jobs in South Africa quite easily too.
Egypt draws many looking to teach abroad, with incredible sights like the Pyramids of Giza and tombs of pharaohs. Most of Egypt is industrialized and modern, but recent political turmoil has left its education system on the rebound, therefore teachers are needed here in Egypt to fill the educational gaps.
Other popular countries to teach in Africa include Senegal and Morocco. Every African country is different, from the landscape to the types of towns and the nation’s commerce. If you have a specific country in mind, do some research on the educational culture, what it takes to teach abroad there, and the different cities you could find teaching jobs in.
Teaching Jobs in Africa
From urban to rural, your experience teaching in Africa can look very different based on the location and specifics of your placement. Even within a particular city, there are several types of schools you could be placed into, with different teaching conventions and classroom constituents.
If you are employed by an private international institution, classes are taught primarily in English, and follow a strict curriculum based on another country’s set of standards, most commonly British or American standards. As a result, international teachers have a better chance of being offered teaching jobs in international schools, due to their familiarity with certain lesson plans and subjects. International schools are private, so compensation may be higher than at public institutions in Africa.
Many African nations also have private national schools, private schools that teach curriculum which more closely aligns with public schools in the country, but the schools are associated with national programs or organizations. These schools are nevertheless private and require students to pay a tuition to attend. Some classes in these schools are taught in national languages, though as English becomes more and more a status of education worldwide, the majority of courses are taught in English to English-speaking students.
Public schools, or government-run schools in African be a mixed bag depending on the African country. Inside urban cities, public schools teach English to students, and science and math courses can also be taught in English. As you move away from the city, local language schools pop up as well. Public schools follow national curriculum and teachers can expect a lower salary and a larger class size.
Salary & Costs
Due to the varying developmental stages in different African countries, the salary you receive for teaching jobs in Africa and the cost of living can vary greatly. Salaries and costs will be most dependent on the region you’re teaching in, the type of school you’re placed with, and various other factors. International schools or private schools are typically able to pay their international teachers more, whereas small schools will award smaller salaries.
If you choose to live and teach in Africa in a larger or capital city, the cost of living will be higher than living in a smaller town or a rural region. Salaries typically reflect the cost of living, and the cost of room and board in that region. For example, international teachers in most parts of Ethiopia are paid only $300 a month, whereas teachers in Egypt are compensated nearly triple that amount, ranging from $900 to $1100 a month. Both salaries, though hugely different, are enough to sustain international teachers food and housing costs.
If you feel the need to earn more money while teaching in Africa, many international teachers who are native English speakers can easily find side employment as a private tutor to improve student’s pronunciation or writing skills.
Accommodation & Visas
It is customary in most African countries for schools to arrange housing for international teachers, and agreeing to live in teacher housing may be included in your contract. Some teachers choose to volunteer for teaching jobs in Africa in exchange for food and housing, rather than a monthly salary. This is a viable option for many who choose not to secure a work visa.
You may choose to secure your own housing in most cases. Many larger towns have areas where international visitors congregate, in apartment buildings, or neighborhoods. These living arrangements can help make it easier to socialize with a larger scope of individuals, and allow you more personal freedoms than group housing.
Work visas are notoriously difficult to obtain; schools will likely demand you agree to a term of two years or longer before moving forward with paperwork to secure the work visa. Teachers looking for their student teaching experience, or newly graduated TEFL certificate holders wanting shorter periods of involvement, such as a semester or a year, find it simpler to remain in their country of choice on a temporary visa.
- Fill Growing Educational Needs. Teaching abroad in Africa has countless benefits. African countries are rich with heritage, so teaching in Africa will introduce you to new foods, languages, spiritual practices, and numerous other daily habits. Teaching abroad in Africa allows teachers to help fill essential teaching positions, grow smaller schools into bigger educational programs, and help spread schooling around the continent. Many schools in Africa teach primarily in English, which can be a huge benefit for teachers looking to travel abroad but not teach English. Your teaching experience in Africa can show you different instruction styles, help realize the impact of education, and give you experience teaching those from different cultural backgrounds.
- Learn To Adapt. The experience of teaching abroad in Africa is not without challenges, though. African countries are typically home to friendly communities, however small rural schools may not have many international teachers, which could make you feel ostracized. Students may see you as a foreigner and be slow to warm up to you. Most importantly, African culture values going with the flow; teachers should expect to teach a variety of classes and respond to assorted issues as they arise.
- Safety Concerns. Lastly, safety is an issue in many African cities; regions of Africa are prone to political turmoil and it may not always be safe to be a Westerner in these areas. Keep up to date on these issues, immerse yourself in the African way of life, and the pros will certainly outweigh the cons.