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Director's Dispatch: Diamniadio Discussion

On a recent Saturday morning, a large group of parents, Board members, administrators, and teachers gathered to discuss the future of ISD and try to predict how the development of Diamniadio would impact current and future ISD families.

Diamniadio is the new city the Senegalese government is building 40 km away from Dakar as part of the Emerging Senegal Plan. The city is being developed to ease the congestion of Dakar and increase economic growth.

Some companies have already moved to Diamniadio, and the United Nations offices are scheduled to move there in 2021.  Over the past year, many of our current parents, as well as potential future parents, have asked if ISD will open another campus in Diamniadio to serve students who want a high-quality education.

The session was led by Dr. Dennis Larkin, a veteran international school director with experience working in Africa and at a two-campus school. The participants were divided into ten groups, with an ISD Trustee or administrator facilitated each group. Over two hours, the groups discussed the following questions.

Where will families live once Diamniadio is developed?

Thinking of time frames from 3 to 10 years, what would be the impact on your family or families from your organization with ISD opening a satellite campus to serve students in the Diamniadio area?

What minimum facilities would a satellite campus need to have for families to enroll their children there?

If ISD does not build a satellite campus, would families living in Diamniadio continue to enroll their children in the ISD Dakar campus?

What other ways might ISD accommodate families who live in the Diamniadio area, if a satellite campus is not built?

The groups were asked to try and reach consensus on their answers to each of the questions. Each group was asked to prepare a summary statement based on the conversation at their table.

There was a wide range of opinions expressed and, as a result, a variety of conclusions.  Some of the groups concluded that Diamniadio is happening and ISD should build a second campus to support the families who will live and work there. Other groups felt that, at least in the next three to five years,  families will stay in Dakar and the parent who is the employee will commute to Diamniadio. Still, others cautioned that we need to gather more detailed information before a decision is made.

The groups were unanimous that the educational programs at the second campus must be of equal quality to the current and should have a full range of facilities including school library, playing fields, and a pool. There was strong sentiment that the current campus must continue to be developed as well.  Additionally, there was consensus that the Board and Administration should regularly communicate with the community regarding Diamniadio and any decisions that are made.

If a decision were made not to start a second campus, exploring different options for transporting students, including bus and use of the new train service, to the current campus would need to be discussed.

The School Board reviewed the written feedback from all the groups in a special meeting on Tuesday, April 16. The Board looked for themes in the feedback and then discussed possible options moving forward. The possibilities include applying to purchase land in Diamniadio from the government, buying a property a short distance outside of the Diamniadio area, or waiting for the project to develop further before making a decision about building a second campus.

The Board will discuss the topic further at the next Board meeting, this Thursday, April 25.

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