By Michell Svesve (Ndeipi Magazine)
Childhood development involves the biological, psychological, and emotional changes between birth and their eighteenth birthday. This is a crucial phase that every child, parent, and guardian goes through. It is within these years that a child’s foundation in education is laid and strengthened, in a way that enables them to flourish intellectually, refine their talents, and identify their contributions to the world.
Taking into consideration these fundamental abilities, the Ecole Francaise de Harare – the French School of Harare (EFH), is an educational institution where both French and foreign students from diverse linguistic backgrounds (with more than 30 different nationalities) are supported in reaching their intellectual, physical and creative potential within a caring, bi-lingual environment.It is here that students who wish to study under the French Education System are welcomed and guided into becoming reputable community members who personify the values of the school system namely; integration, respect for different cultures, and religious neutrality.
The EFH, located along Teign Road, Vainona, Harare, is part of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) network of French schools which currently represents 522 schools in 139 countries. All the schools within this agency operate under the authority of the French Ministry of Education and use the same curriculum as schools in France and deliver fully recognised French diplomas.
The EFH school year follows the European school calendar, which starts in September and ends in June, with the main school holiday starting in July and through August. This school year does not coincide with that of local schools, consequently, EFH has short holidays in February, April, and October, with a longer break in December to accommodate families who will be travelling abroad for the festive season. Lessons start at 0800 and end at 1300 from Monday to Friday. Students have the option of staying in school past 1300 to attend extra lessons or extra-curricular activities, which are not compulsory.
The school was established in Harare over 30 years ago and offers four academic levels, which are as follows:
- Nursery School – which is made up of the Toute Petite Section (TPS), with children from the ages of 2 (who are potty trained), and Early childhood development A Petite Section (PS) with children from 3 years old. French lessons begin in nursery school and 80% of the classes are taught in French and 20% in English. The school chose to introduce French to the children at an early stage as it is easier for them to grasp a foreign language. All the teachers are bilingual, as such when a child struggles to understand in French, they can assist them to grasp the concept better in English.
Early Childhood development B has the Moyenne Section (MS), with children from 4 years and Grade 1- the Grande Section (GS) which takes in children from 5 years old.
One key component of the Nursery school is the introduction of science as a subject, which they call “Discovering the World ”. Children are taught at an early age how to understand matter and carry out experiments to determine how different elements within the world react.
- Primary School – includes children from Grade 2 up to Grade 6 (CP to CM2). 20-25% of the lessons are taught in English.
- College level – This level includes children from Grade 7 to Form 3 (6ème to 3ème). All lessons are taught entirely in French, with English and Spanish taught as secondary languages. The school is well equipped with teachers that are native French speakers and native English speakers, and as such when the course requires an English explanation, the English teachers are always there to assist.
- Lycée level (High School) – This includes pupils in Form 4 (Seconde), Lower 6 (Première), and Upper 6 (Terminale). Within this level, all courses are taught in French, and English is taught as a secondary language. The Lycée Level in the French system lasts three years in total, where at the end students write a final exam called the French Baccalauréat. The French Baccalauréat is made up of an extensive series of exams, set by the French Ministry of Education. The courses taught within the Lycée level emulate those given at university. As such students who excel during exams and receive their French Baccalauréat diploma are often granted university credits once they advance to tertiary education. The French Baccalauréat is a well-recognised international diploma that allows students the opportunity to apply to some of the best universities in the United Kingdom, America, Canada, Africa, and Europe. This diploma enables our students to be enrolled in all French universities (the least expensive in the northern region)
The French curriculum is designed to accommodate every child. If a child transfers into the school, from the local education structure, they are comfortably adapted into the new school system. The EFH operates under the Agence pour l’Ensignement Français à l’Etranger (AEFE) network and the French curriculum is the same across all schools within the board, so a child moving from one country to the other can have a smooth academic transition. They will be automatically integrated into the same courses they were studying in their previous school.
Arts, Sports, and Culture
Students at the EFH are encouraged and supported in developing their sensitivity and creativity daily, from the nursery school level to the high school stage in a multicultural environment. They work with renowned artists and coaches to help them sharpen their skills and knowledge when it comes to their preferred Arts, Sports, and Culture courses.
Sport is not only done on a practical level, the school has elevated it and turned it into a subject where children learn about it in theory. The student population is currently small in size; therefore, sport is only done at a competitive level with the local schools of the same size. They also attend sporting events arranged by other French Schools in neighbouring countries and beyond.
Pupils are given the option to specialise in a sport that intrigues them the most, in particular Duathlon, where the children are allowed to ride their bikes and run at the highest speed they can get to without any limitations. The school works in conjunction with distinguished Sports and Arts clubs in Zimbabwe, for example; the Kirsty Coventry academy teaches students swimming and the Afrikera Arts Trust takes on dance classes and assists the school in organising concerts and exhibitions.
If a child is struggling in French or is transferring into the school at a later stage and has no knowledge of the French language, they can attend lessons where teachers from Alliance Francaise Harare come to assist.
There is a wide range of clubs that students can partake in, for example, the Comic Book Club, where students express their creativity in depicting their storylines and illustrations. With the guidance of their teacher, the students are walked through the process of making comic books and eventually get to print their copies.
School Management board and COPA (Parents event committee)
Parents voluntarily take on the responsibility of setting goals that see to the efficient operation of the school. They organise social and fundraising events and host meetings to help in the decision making and running of the school. Parents know best what is required to make the educational journey of their child fruitful.
If you looking for an exemplary school in Zimbabwe, where your child is accepted for who they are and treated equally to everyone regardless of their race, religious background and identity, consider enrolling them into The EFH. Multiculturalism is at the core of the school system, as such it is a diverse community where over 30 nationalities have coexisted and worked peacefully as one family.
Images by the French School of Harare (EFH)
Originally published in the 120th Ndeipi Magazine