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Overview of Africa

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A Teachers Life in Africa

Africa is a very diverse continent offering a vast array of natural resources, culture, landscapes, people and wildlife. There are tropical rainforests, desert plains, savannahs, rivers, lakes, valleys, mountain ranges, a wide lush valleys, waterfalls, tribal villages, mountain ranges, lakes, chaotic cities, savannahs, rivers and herds of wild animals.

Area: 30.2 million sq km
Population: 1 billion
People: Variable - Black African / White African / Arab
Language: 2000 within 6 linguistic families
Religion: 45% Muslim / 40% Christian / 15% other or none
Currency: Variable
Climate: Tropical to sub arctic

Culture & History

Across Africa's vast landscape has a vast array of cultures, traditions and nationalities including Asians, European and Middle Easterners. Africa is made up of a staggering 53 countries, all with their own cultures and sub cultures reinforcing Africa's diverse way of life.

Geography

Africa is the world's second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. With over 1 billion people in 61 territories, it accounts for close to 15% of the world's total population. Africa is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Suez Canal, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.

Wildlife

Africa's natural history alone would make a two year visit worthwhile - with where else on earth can you fall asleep to the sound of lions roaring, or watch a million flamingos take off from the waters of a remote soda lake?

Africa has a wide variety of wild animal populations including lions, cheetahs, hyenas, elephants, deer, buffalo, giraffes, camels, snakes, crocodiles and primates. In Africa you will find an amazing mix of cultures and traditions, in total speaking over two thousand languages such as English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Climate

Due to its location on the equator, Africa is the only continent to experience both northern and southern temperatures resulting in temperatures from tropical to sub-arctic. However, generally speaking the climate is hot and dry with the northern half being primarily desert and the central and southern sections having both grassy plains and rainforests.

Activities

Africa appeals to the adventurous with activities such as fishing, sailing, mountain climbing, hiking, expat clubs, architecture, archaeology, pyramids, desert exploring and game parks. Africa is a photographer's paradise.

What teachers can expect with your employment package in Africa

Schools in Africa almost always provide housing as part of the employment package, as housing is very expensive. Housing is usually an apartment that is hard furnished with a bed, dresser, table and chairs etc. Soft furnishings such as cutlery and dishes may or may not be provided, but are not expensive to buy. Utilities are very cheap, and again may or may not be included in your employment package.

Contracts are usually 2-3 years. Shorter term contracts are not often available because of the high cost to the school of procuring a work permit. Schools generally prefer to amortise this cost over more than one year.

Most salaries are tax-free which is not a concept that is familiar to most western teachers! The cost of living in Africa is very low, so your salary will go a very long way and a large percentage is often sent directly into an offshore account that you will not need to access due to the low cost of living. It is a great opportunity to save as well as live and experience a world and culture very different to your own.

To compare the tax-free salary to your own, remember to look at your take home pay, minus the cost of rent/mortgage, utilities and real estate/council taxes.

Unmarried partners and dependents

Unfortunately unmarried partners can present problems for teachers wishing to relocate to Africa, especially when there are dependent children. This is not a religious issue, more of it is is to do with the difficulty of the partner getting a visa as the teacher cannot sponsor them. Schools usually provide discounted tuition to children of teachers, but it is almost never free. Typically, they offer a discount of 25-33% which makes it very difficult for teachers who are the sole breadwinners who have dependent children.

Is it safe to teach in Africa?

Africa's not always an easy place to travel in. It can be frustrating and challenging at times due to the lack of consistent infrastructure. But don't believe everything you see on TV: Africa is not full of civil war, plague, famine and violent crime. It is a country which is constantly changing and developing. As in all tourist areas, you do need to be mindful of pick pockets and do your research on any unsafe areas where you are travelling.

Benefits and Restrictions


Middle East Africa Europe Far East
Tax Free Yes Varies No Varies
Low Free Varies Yes No Yes
Housing Yes Yes No Yes
Flights Yes Yes Varies Yes
Bonus Yes Varies No Varies
Contract (years) 2+ 2+ 1 2+
Unmarried Partners No Yes Yes Varies
Pets No No Varies No
Dependents Varies Varies Varies Varies
Age Related Visa Restriction Yes No No Yes
EU Passport Required No No Yes No

* Note: due to the very low cost of living, many schools in Africa pay a very large percentage into an offshore account, resulting in top savings potential.