Director of School Relations David Cope recently visited Ethiopia—a country of personal significance. It was where he and his wife Caroline got engaged to be married and where they are supporting a variety of charitable projects. This February, David relished the opportunity to visit two Search Associates’ (SEARCH) member schools in the capital, Addis Ababa: the International Community School (ICS) and Sandford International School (Sandford). Like Ethiopia itself, each of these two international schools has had a long and fascinating history.
ICS began its life 60 years ago as the Addis Ababa American School. Then, in 1964 the Emperor Haile Selassie, by royal decree, not only authorized it to become the American Community School (ACS) but also gave it 15 acres of land on which to develop. Even though its name changed from ACS to ICS in 1978, the school and community still thrive on that land.
Sandford’s history is even longer, beginning in the 1940s when the British helped Emperor Haile Selassie reclaim his country from five years of Italian occupation. The school’s founder, Christine Sandford, was the wife of one of the officers leading that military mission, and in gratitude, the Emperor gave the Sandford family land on which to start an English-speaking school.
These origins explain why ICS now offers a blend of the U.S. curriculum with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years and Diploma Programmes—with much emphasis on personalized learning—while Sandford offers the U.K. curriculum and the IB Diploma Programme in the final two years of secondary. One other historical difference is that while both of these highly successful international schools attract students from a very wide range of national backgrounds, Sandford, since its establishment, has enrolled a large number of Ethiopian students, who currently comprise more than 50% of the school community.
At both schools, David was delighted by the warm welcome from Heads of School (HOS) Dr. Tim Stuart at ICS and Mr. Kumlachew Aberra at Sandford. David enjoyed extensive tours around both campuses as well as the opportunity to speak at length with the heads about each school’s special character, how it is flourishing today, and what each school aspires to become tomorrow. Both ICS and Sandford are clearly committed to offering every student a first-class, personal learning experience and to attracting high-quality teachers to guide and inspire their students.
Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous nation (after Nigeria), with about 115 million citizens. David adds,
This really beautiful, diverse country is packed full of history, scenery, wildlife, and above all, human warmth. It also offers a lovely climate and delicious food!
Addis Ababa itself is a culturally vibrant, rapidly developing city, with a population approaching four million. The Ethiopian people are very friendly, and the cost of living is low. Any teacher wanting a rewarding experience in one of Africa’s most distinctive countries—with marvelous opportunities for professional development, personal travel, and the bonus of a high savings potential—would be wise to look closely at openings at these two fine schools in Addis Ababa.