Educating kids in Mauritius
5 Tips on choosing the right school2nd Dec 2021
Featured Image: Learners at Northfields School
One of the many concerns parents have when moving abroad is finding the right school for their children.
The good news is that Mauritius has a plethora of state and private schools to choose from. Many offer the same services we’ve come to expect and cherish in South African schools, such as holiday care, sports and clubs.
While there are many options, it can still be a confusing and frustrating experience to find the right school. Follow these five tips and you’ll be well on your way to whittling down the choices to your favourites.
1. Make your enquiries before you go
Make enquiries before your scheduled relocation. It’s a good way of establishing a connection and getting a feel for the people managing your desired school.
‘Parents can contact schools prior to moving to get all the information they need, and once they are in the country, they can arrange for a visit. Schools have different facilities, programmes, calendar year, etc., so parents will need to see what best suits them and their family,’ explains Reneeta Sandhu, admissions and marketing manager at Northfields International School (NIS).
2. Get all the right documentation together
Most schools will ask parents to fill out admission forms, and many already have these online. Providing birth certificates and current school reports of your children is vital. Some documentation may not be needed immediately. ‘Should the parents already have their permits, these can be submitted, or else they can be provided to us upon arrival in Mauritius,’ says Sandhu.
3. Establish the fees
Education is managed by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources. The government of Mauritius offers free education to all residents, from preprimary to tertiary levels. When it comes to private schools, fees vary greatly. However, it’s possible to make comparisons as many do publish their latest rates online. Besides the standard monthly fees, there are other costs to tally up, including application fees (often non-refundable), entrance assessment fees, PTA fees, annual membership fees, yearbook contributions, stationery, and registration fees.
You may pay more in school fees if you’re a non-Mauritian citizen. The Clavis International Baccalaureate Primary School, for instance, charges non-Mauritian citizens Rs14,900 (R5,319) per month (over 11 months) for a pre-reception child, while Mauritian citizens pay Rs12,000 (R4,284.20) per month (over 11 months).
Discounts can apply. You may get discounts for siblings attending the same school or if you pay the school fees upfront for the year. With NIS, for example, you could get a 2–3% discount on your yearly fee if your upfront payment is made by the end of July.
Private school costs can all add up, so make sure that if you’re considering them, you’re able to afford all the extra costs, including any extra sports or activities your children intend to do in and out of their school environment.
4. Find out if tests are required
Your children may need to pass a test to be admitted to your desired school. NIS, for example, ask children from Year 5 to take ability tests.
Sandhu says: ‘These need to be sat before an offer can be made. They consist of tests in English, math and French. However, should the child have no prior knowledge of French, this will not be necessary.
‘Everything can be done remotely, including the ability tests, which can be done school to school, with their current school invigilating.’
5. Read the terms and conditions
Read the fine print of your school’s application contract. Find out if, for example, you need to take your child out of school (for whatever reason) what the rules are surrounding this. Would you need to give a certain amount of notice? Ask if you get any deposits or school fees refunded.
Consider joining groups on social platforms like Facebook to make contact with other South African expats who’ve gone through the move and can offer first-hand accounts and tips based on their own experience.
Sandhu adds that it’s important not to put undue stress on your children before the move. ‘French will be taught at different levels (first language, beginners, etc.), so there is no need to worry if a child has no prior knowledge of the language.’
Being prepared is key. ‘We also recommend visiting the school before the first day so that the child is familiar with the school, and to make sure that they have all their books, uniforms and devices,’ says Sandhu.
5 Facts about education in Mauritius
- In 2005, the government introduced free transport for all students.
- Children must attend school till the age of 16.
- Languages in Mauritius include English, French and Mauritian creole.
- The school system is based on the British schooling system.
- Children of expats enrolled in the Mauritian education systems can access refresher courses.