International School of Uganda Article by: Sue Farmer | Images: Courtesy of ISU
The school changed its name to the International School of Uganda in 2004 to reflect the international curriculum it offers and our international student body and faculty. Over the last 50 years, situated on three different campuses, the school relocated to its current spacious 33 acre campus in Lubowa in 2001. Throughout the school’s history, students have been given opportunities to learn from all that Uganda has to offer and are expected to contribute to our wider community.
ISU offers a world class education through the gold standard International Baccalaureate programmes, developed by educationalists to prepare students for the fast changing world. One thing that doesn’t change is the dedication and commitment of staff to ensure that the students are ready for the next stage of their lives. The Early Childhood Centre caters for the youngest students in a specially designed complex where learning through play helps develop their love of school. The Primary Years Programme (PYP) in Junior School is based on inquiry and harnesses children’s natural curiosity to explore their immediate environment and the wider world. The Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Senior School focuses on providing the students with the skills necessary to understand and delve deeply into the curriculum, culminating in the last two years with the IB Diploma Programme (DP), a 2 year pre-university course leading to acceptance by prestigious universities and colleges worldwide.
ISU has a diverse student body from over 60 nationalities and well qualified and experienced staff from 20 nationalities – a mini United Nations in itself. The diversity is celebrated and fosters an appreciation of different cultures, beliefs and reasoning – different viewpoints are encouraged and lead to a better appreciation of the amazingly diverse world in which we live. To assist students whose first language isn’t English, the English as an Additional Language department has an excellent record of raising the level of English so that within 2 years children are usually fluent and can fully engage in all learning. The school also offers mother tongue language classes, currently in 14 other languages, to help students maintain their first language.
The Optimal Learning Centre (OLC) supports those students who join ISU with learning differences, using the latest in educational research to encourage and complement their learning to support them in acquiring the skills to lead rich and fulfilling lives, even if the academic life is not their path.
Both Junior and Senior schools have Guidance Counsellors who work with students who may be struggling with changing schools or personal issues and who teach life skills classes. The importance of making good choices and understanding the consequences of all choices and decisions is emphasised – all part of the critical thinking processes that the school encourages.
The Senior School also has a Career/University Counsellor who works closely with the senior students as they prepare their college and university applications and directs them towards possible scholarships. Last school year, over $1.8m of scholarships were awarded to ISU students to attend universities in the US and Canada. 95% of ISU students go on to university or college either directly from school or after taking a gap year.
ISU opened a state-of-the-art Science Centre in 2014, complete with all the necessary technology and equipment for students to acquire the experience and knowledge for a future in science. Science is taught by dedicated subject teachers and includes experimentation and hands-on activities.
ISU’s sports facilities are first class, with a full sized football pitch, as well as two smaller ones, excellent athletics facilities including a 400m running track, a covered sports hall with a climbing wall, a 25m swimming pool with smaller learners’ pool, golf practice area, tennis courts and a fitness track that runs around the inner perimeter of the school. ISU is one of the founders and active participants in the local international schools league (ISSAK). As well as the local league, ISU is part of a group of eight other international schools in southern and eastern Africa (ISSEA) which allows ISU’s students to compete in football, athletics, basketball, volleyball and swimming – fabulous opportunities for students to improve their skills and make friends from diverse backgrounds.
What first strikes visitors to the campus is the lush green environment. From a bare brown site in 2000 to the botanical garden that is now the Lubowa campus, ISU is one of the most attractive environments in which to study and work. The open spaces are exploited by the students with areas for a quick game of football at break time and quiet places for reading and researching. In a technological age, being in touch with nature promotes balance and calmness.
Talking of technology, students have access to computers from an early age with dedicated lessons and use of iPads in the classroom. All Senior School students bring their own Macbooks and have access to the latest Apple technology in the classroom. The whole school is Wi-Fi enabled and it isn’t unusual to see groups of students, sitting under trees, hotly discussing the latest world news or researching recent innovations in the world. Students also take part in ISSEA STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) competitions.
You would think that all the technology would put the Library, with its 25,000 books, journals, magazines and newspapers out of fashion. The opposite is true at ISU, the Library is well used for research, pleasure, information or just a quiet place to sit and revise. The love of printed books is alive and well at ISU!
As well as a diverse student body, ISU families live in Entebbe, Kampala and areas in between. This makes ISU’s bus service, run and maintained by ISU, a vital form of transport for students, the majority of whom travel on the bus daily. Our fleet of 18 buses are fitted with air conditioning, three point seat belts, security cameras and drivers trained in defensive driving techniques. All buses are fitted with webcams and have mobile/radio communications with the school.