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Teaching English Abroad in Africa

The Practical Information You Need to Get Work

Africa is a diverse continent requiring teachers planning to work there to be highly adventurous and at the same time extremely creative. The majority of African nations still have a long way to go before they can begin to achieve and sustain meaningful economic development. There are very few financially lucrative teaching positions in Africa, but the demand for volunteer teachers is quite high. Teachers planning to work on this continent cannot expect the same level of comfort or facilities that may be found elsewhere. 

Visa Requirements

Egypt

Egypt is one of the most frequently-visited nations in Africa and teaching positions may be found in international schools or as volunteers for various international organizations. An Entry Visa, as well as a Temporary Non-Tourist Residence Permit are needed by a person seeking to work in Egypt in addition to a work permit and a work visa which must be obtained before arriving in Egypt. The employing institution is responsible for facilitating the acquisition of these documents on behalf of the applicant. In addition to the usual documents, a proof of immunization against yellow fever and an HIV test has to be presented by the applicant.

South Africa

A work permit for South Africa (SA) and other African countries is quite difficult to acquire due to the poor condition of their economies. Priority is given to the country’s citizens to fill job vacancies. As such, it is highly important that a teacher should already have work waiting for him/her in SA with an institution that is willing to go through the difficult process of proving that said position cannot be filled up locally. Some of the things that the institution will have to prove to the Department of Foreign Affairs are: that the vacancy was advertised and those who responded are not qualified; whether government agencies were approached to fill the vacancies; that the applicant being appointed for the position has exceptional skills and experience not available amongst South African citizens. Documents required to process a work permit include: application form; resume/curriculum vitae; marriage certificate (if applicable), birth certificate, proof of advertisement of the job position in the national media; police clearance; medical certificate; and English translations of all documents that are written in a foreign language.

Sudan

Much like the rest of Africa, Sudan has a high demand for volunteers who are willing to teach the English language. Volunteer programs are available through various international organizations that work directly with Sudanese institutions. A teacher working as a volunteer can only expect to receive a stipend that is the equivalent of a Sudanese teacher’s salary. This amount is quite low compared to the salaries offered in international schools and is only sufficient to cover local expenses. The sponsoring organization may also cover the costs of accommodation, health and travel insurance and medical expenses (Sudan Volunteer Programme, n.d.). An Entry Visa is required for all foreigners entering Sudan while an Exit Visa is needed if the stay lasted more than three months. Those who plan to work in Sudan are required to secure a work permit before the prerequisite Temporary Residence Permit can be obtained.  The work permit, together with a letter of recommendation from the prospective employer and passport-size pictures, must be presented to the Immigration Ministry to apply for a residence permit. Moreover, all foreigners are required to register with the Ministry of Interior’s Alien Department by presenting the completed registration form and the letter of sponsorship from the employing institution.

Working and Living Conditions

Africa is one of the most culturally-rich continents in the world. A wide disparity between the two ends of the social spectrum is readily apparent in most countries. Many African universities have overworked educators who are forced to teach large numbers of students, but situations are much better in the more affluent international schools. Those who plan to teach in African schools as volunteers or as salaried employees must be ready to adapt to the country’s prevailing teaching styles and the modest lifestyle of local teachers. Since most volunteers are assigned to the less privileged regions, these teachers should come prepared for a lack of teaching materials and facilities (Chinsembu, 2005).  

The richness of African culture is expressed through music, religion, arts and crafts. These can be clearly seen in their wood carvings, brass arts, sculpture, pottery and ceremonial clothing. Imaginative and creative teachers can easily make good use of these cultural artifacts and symbols to impart knowledge to their students. Unfortunately, quite a few places in Africa suffer from security problems. Egypt, for instance, has suffered several terrorist attacks at famous tourist destinations. Because of these disturbances, foreigners are discouraged from traveling outside certain areas and Travel Permits have to be obtained if such travels cannot be avoided..