What’s it like teaching in Gabon, Africa?

Published on 7th December, 2020 by Wendy Hartrey. Published in For Candidates / TIC News

Are you wondering what it’s like teaching overseas during a worldwide pandemic? In this blog we catch up with Kams, a teacher we recently helped place in Gabon, Africa. He explains everything from his arrival in Gabon, quarantining, online teaching and more!

How was your arrival in Gabon? Did you have to quarantine?

I arrived in Libreville, Gabon after a 15-hour flight from London.

On arrival, we were met by a team of medical staff taking temperatures, checking for evidence of Covid-19 test from the UK and screening our vaccination papers before being allowed to go through the immigration service for visa checks. We also had to submit a swab sample for a mandatory covid-19 test after collecting our baggage.

We then had to self-isolate at our own address pending the result of the test which took 4 days to process. Once I got my negative result, I started at the school the following day.

During those four days of self-isolation, I conducted online lessons and that made time go much quicker and made it less boring!

How have you settled into the school?

I have settled in very well! I was particularly impressed by the way the school had organised everything.

I was welcomed to Gabon by the headteacher himself and another senior member of the school leadership team. I was then taken to my apartment where everything had been provided and taken care of to make me feel comfortable during my self-isolation time since I wouldn't be able to go out shopping for that period.

Every day I received messages from colleagues who were offering to help in case I needed something.

How was your first week?

My first week was excellent! It was made easier as I'd already had an induction online in which I was working with most of my students. The students at the school are very well-behaved and keen on learning! Class sizes vary between 5 to 15 pupils depending on the year group and the subject. The school itself is surprisingly very modern for this part of the world; the buildings are blended within nature with particular attention paid to the environment.

The classrooms are well equipped with smartboard and overhead projectors, and a number of high-tech facilities have been added to the school such the auditorium, the gym and the stadium.

The school leadership team has worked hard to get the school open by implementing a number of practical measures and restrictions that prioritise the health and safety of students and staff. The organisation and procedures are impressive from facial masks to disinfectants provided in the corridors as well as in classrooms.

How is your local area?

I'm living in an area of Libreville called 'Louis' situated in Quaben. It is mostly known for its large number of restaurants, bars, night clubs and all sort of leisure activities. It can be described as an affluent area and the school is conveniently located, only about 10 minutes by car. 

People have divided opinions about the area in terms of security with some advising you to be careful while walking on the street, especially at night, whereas others claim that it's perfectly safe to wander about without having to worry much.

Restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic are in place in Gabon where the use of face mask is mandatory on the street as well as in public places such as bars and restaurants. Shops and supermarkets are allowed to open until 8.00 p.m. when the curfew starts until dawn.

How is your accommodation?

I have to admit that I was really impressed with the quality and the standard of my apartment; it is fair to say that it's been built to Western standards. It’s very spacious with a nice view of the ocean from both the living room and the kitchen. Almost everything has been supplied such as kitchenware and furniture.

There is really nothing to complain about!

How different is Gabon from London?

Libreville is a modern city albeit very small compared to London. It suffers from a lack of entertainment - I'm told there are no cinemas. The culture is very different since we are in Africa and poverty can be felt almost everywhere, despite the fact that Gabon is ranked amongst the countries where living standards are quite good on the continent.

How different is the 'new normal' of teaching?

The big challenge is to be able to accommodate those students who are attending lessons online as their parents do not allow them to physically come to school every day. Giving them the same experience as the in-person students is hard.

Finally, have you had any experiences that would help potential teachers?

I've only been in Gabon for 3 weeks now so it's still early days, but I must emphasise that my first impression of the school and the way it's managed is very positive. The students are very polite and motivated, and the staff are also very helpful and friendly!

If you were inspired by Kams’s story, register with TIC Recruitment here for free. It’s quick and easy and gives you access to many international school jobs in reputable, accredited international schools, some that are not advertised anywhere else. Despite these uncertain times, TIC Recruitment are still recruiting and supporting many international teachers.

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Wendy Hartrey