Gambia: Banjul American International School U.S. High School Program Expanding in 2021-22

Banjul American International School (BAIS) located on Atlantic Road in Fajara, announced the expanded launch of its U.S. High School program in 2021-22.

The BAIS Board of Directors voted at their Board meeting to maintain tuition at the specially discounted rate for self-paying high school families in the 2021-22 school year. The Board noted that admission is now open to determined and bright grade 9 and grade 10 students residing in the Kombo area who seek a world class education.

The Board maintained the discounted tuition for self-paying families in grades 9 and 10 at $6,000 USD per annum. The self-paying family tuition rate for grades 11 and 12 was set at $7,500 USD per annum to covers the cost university guidance and any needed university level Advanced Placement classes as well as regular high school program costs.

BAIS Director, Myna Anderson, specified at a virtual announcement that students who will complete grade 9 or 10 in the Gambian system this year and students who will complete form 3 or 4 in the UK system this year are encouraged to apply to BAIS grade 9 or 10 for 2021-2022. Grade 11 and 12 students moving to Banjul from abroad may also apply for grades 11 and 12.

Myna Anderson, Director of the Banjul American International School

Director Anderson invites families of students aged 13 to 16 to attend Information Sessions to learn more about the program and the application process. The Information Sessions will be held on campus and live via Zoom each Wednesday evening in March: March 3rd, March 10th, March 17th and March 24th. Each session will begin promptly at 7 pm. Register via email at Director@BAISGambia.org or phone or WhatsApp on 219 3800.

Due to COVID protocols, the number of participants at Information Sessions will be limited. In addition, all participants will wear face masks at all times and have temperatures checked prior to entry. The sessions will be held out-of-doors and with appropriate physical distancing.

BAIS Elementary teachers from USA and Sweden ready to welcome students at drop off.

In November 2019, the BAIS Board of Directors voted to open grade 9, the first year of the U.S. High School program, in 2020-21 and to continue to grow into a full high school program over four years. BAIS goal is to allow Gambian and expatriate families to keep their children with them at home during adolescence rather than sending them abroad, while being assured their children receive a quality education.

Director Anderson noted at the launch, "Opening grade 9 this year allowed eight business, diplomatic mission and NGO families to keep their children home with them in Banjul during the pandemic." She added that one student also unexpectedly relocated from South Africa to The Gambia and was enrolled as a grade 11 student because "as a small school, BAIS believes it is our duty to serve families and supports every individual student with the education s/he needs. Because we offered him that opportunity, he will give us the opportunity to celebrate our first BAIS high school graduate in 2022!"

BAIS Director, Myna Anderson, reports that BAIS High School students have been able to continue their studies without interruption this year despite the COVID19 pandemic. Study began online in September and studied in person since October without closure as a result of the mitigation procedures which are firmly in place and enforced on the BAIS campus. The initial cohort of BAIS high school students faced adjustment to the challenge of the U.S. program, and has found success with the support of a cadre of highly experienced and caring high school teachers.

Some of the BAIS Grade 9 students pose between classes

Ms. Anderson hopes to see more Gambian families take advantage of the program in 2021-22 to add to the international diversity of the BAIS student body. The current BAIS Student Council president, an American of Gambian descent, attended other schools in Banjul after relocating from the USA. She applauded the Board's decision to continue the program at the discounted rate because, "Students need the BAIS option to be able to study in a non-toxic environment where you can just be yourself with teachers and classmates."

Middle school students celebrating their 'Christmas Pajama' Spirit Day

As part of the development of the BAIS high school program, the school is now an official SAT Examination center. The first SAT was held at BAIS on December 5th, 2020, and BAIS can be selected as a testing site by SAT test-takers in Banjul for future test sessions on March 13th, May 8th and June 5th 2021. BAIS ensures full COVID protocols to ensure the health and safety of its proctors and SAT test-takers.

The SAT Proctor and a test taker celebrate completion of the first BAIS SAT on Dec 5th

Ms. Anderson reminded attendees that BAIS has had a successful history of more than 35 years as a not-for-profit, American-curriculum, internationally-minded, elementary and middle school. Its expansion in recent years included the development of a full Early Childhood program serving children ages 2 ½ to 4 years. This Pre-Kindergarten program delivers American academic standards for the littlest learners through Reggio Emilia approaches.

BAIS Pre-Kindergarten students relish learning through play

The American high school program comprises the same age groups as the Gambian Senior Secondary and UK IGCSE and A Level programs. The American high school program is a four-year program, however, rather than 3 years (as in Gambia) or 2 + 2 years (as in the UK). The U.S. high school diploma is earned by successfully completing courses in English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Sciences, World Languages, the Arts, Technology, Physical Education & Health and other electives. Students must pass courses to earn the requisite credits required for graduation. The four-year program of study is designed to prepare students for acceptance into universities and colleges in North America, the UK, Europe, Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and the Middle East.

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