It’s difficult to pick a teaching destination in Africa when your options are spread across 54 countries! While teaching in Africa is not without its challenges - some may face harsh living conditions or limited school resources - you will learn a great deal about the local students, all while witnessing your own personal and professional development.
There are plenty of opportunities for English teachers, but also instructors who specialize in art, music, IT, and physical or health education. As a diverse continent, made of multiple regions and numerous ethnic groups, each teacher’s experience will vary. You may live and work in in a bustling urban environment, secluded rural town, on the coast or in the desert. Either way, teaching in Africa is an adventure that has the potential to change the course of your life. Go on, find out where and how to teach in Africa!
Located in Southwestern Africa, Namibia is a melting pot of German and Southern African cultures. English is the official language, but many Namibians lack proper grammar and reading skills.
Teachers will find that despite the country’s tumultuous, political past, the Namibian people are very welcoming. All teachers need to be native speakers, and hold a TEFL/TESOL certification, as well as a bachelor’s degree. Although salaries are not very high in Namibia (volunteers receive a monthly stipend of around $350), teachers will make enough to provide for their daily lives. Note that imported goods, such as oil and clothing, are incredibly expensive!
Most Moroccans speak both Arabic and French. However in recent years, as tourism and foreign business continues to grow domestically, English is quickly becoming the third primary language for the local people. While some customs and laws may come as a surprise to a teacher from an English-speaking country, time spent in Morocco will be valuable to both your career and personal explorations.
Teachers can expect around $800 to $1000 USD per month; by providing private tutoring lessons, you can earn extra money. A teaching certification will help you to secure high pay for tutoring lessons or full-time positions, but Moroccan employers are lenient with teaching qualifications and often hire those who have none.
A former colony of France, Senegal is a unique place to teach. While Wolof is most people’s native and first language, French is recognized by the government as the official language. English has become the primary second/third language, as the Senegalese Ministry of Education aims to make it a compulsory subject in all schools.
With the goal of educating all future students to be trilingual, schools all across Senegal are looking for both French and English teachers. If you can nab a position at a private school, a typical foreign teacher’s salary is around $26,000 USD per year. Volunteers, on the other hand, do not receive a salary, but are typically provided with housing and sometimes food. In Senegal, private schools require their teachers to have a TEFL certificate and 2+ years of teaching experience; volunteers do not need a TEFL certificate.
While international media focuses on the recent political upheaval in Egypt, it neglects to show the need for improvement in many of the country’s schools. Skilled English teachers are in demand to teach at elementary schools, as well as at language schools/academies.
In fact, the Ministry of Education recently launched the New Schools Program, which aims to provide better support and qualified teachers in Egyptian public schools. Teachers can expect to earn between $700-1100 USD per month. While this is certainly enough for daily life in Egypt, note that daily costs are much higher in urban centers, such as Cairo.
As one of the more progressive countries in Africa, Ghana’s government is making strides to increase access to universal healthcare and education. However, it is a giant undertaking and there’s much more work that needs to be done. English teachers in Ghana will find that most students have a solid grasp of the language, but it is written English that needs improvement.
Actively working to play a greater role in international and regional cooperation, Ghana’s focus on English language education is impressive. Native speakers will find a great deal of opportunity in Ghana’s local schools, as they have the chance to dive in headfirst and challenge existing language curriculum. Teachers typically earn around $500 USD per month, which may not seem like a lot, but is enough to cover daily expenses.
One of the best options for new teachers in Africa is to volunteer at a local school. Many programs are looking for native English speakers with little to no experience, to instruct younger students, sometimes in rural, neglected areas. Volunteers may be placed in either a public, private, or religious school. While most schools need ESL instructors, you may be assigned to also teach math, science, computer literacy, or a variety of other subjects.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS rates are quite high. Volunteers have the opportunity to promote or establish health education programs that will raise awareness about how to make healthy decisions. WorldTeach offers a number of volunteer teaching programs in Africa.
Mostly privately-run, international schools are situated in major cities across Africa. Mainly children of expatriate or wealthy families attend international schools, as instruction is primarily in English. Some international schools follow the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) system, while others teach a bilingual curriculum. However, international schools seek experienced, qualified teachers, who can commit to 2+ years (as it is difficult for schools to sponsor short-term work visas).
In many large cities, you can supplement your teaching income by offering private English lessons. Some families hire part-time tutors to improve their children’s spoken English. In addition, some business professionals are looking to practice their conversational English with a native speaker. Private tutoring is becoming increasingly popular in Morocco and other Northern African countries.
Cost of Living in Africa:
As such a large and expansive continent, there are varying costs of living across Africa. Generally, most capital cities or urban centers have costs of living that are comparable to large cities in Asia or the Middle East, for example. However, if you choose to live outside of the city, in a suburb or small town, you will find that daily costs are lower. Keep in mind that in some locations, food, oil, and clothing (amongst other goods) are often imported -- these will be your biggest expenses as housing is typically provided for teachers by the school or program.
African schools or programs typically require that their teachers are native English speakers. Many employers are lenient with other qualifications, such as a TEFL certification and prior teaching experience. If you are planning to volunteer, you will only need to have native fluency in the language you are teaching. If you plan to teach at an international school, it may be required to have 2+ years of prior experience on top of a bachelor’s degree.
It is difficult to obtain a work visa in many African countries, unless you plan to commit to more than 2 years of employment at a particular school. Short-term teachers or volunteers will most likely work on a tourist or temporary visa. If you sign a contract with a school or organization for longer than a year or so, then your employer will provide visa sponsorship. Since there isn’t a huge market yet, for paid temporary jobs, not many schools or volunteer organizations will arrange residence permits or work visas.
Classroom and Work Culture:
Work culture will greatly vary depending on the country or region. Most Northern Africans and some Western Africans practice Islam, do some research on local customs and regulations before your departure. As a rule of thumb, dress in business casual at school.
If you are teaching in a rural community, you may be the only foreign teacher at your school. This might be challenging, given there is a language barrier, but it is also a good opportunity to learn some of the local language. Also, keep in mind that some schools, located in rural or secluded areas, lack basic educational resources -- though, that won’t stop students and teachers from finding creative solutions!
Questions to Ask:
- How many hours per week will I teach?
- Are basic teaching materials provided?
- What is the dress code in the classroom?
- What’s included in my contract (e.g. benefits, housing, flights)?
- Will the school or employer help to arrange a work visa?