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In the Heart of Africa, a Little Engine That Could
By John Chandler 06-Aug-14
For over 50 years, The American School of Kinshasa (TASOK), Democratic Republic of Congo has offered an American-based curriculum to a diverse group of talented K-12 students from all over the world. TASOK was founded in 1961 by the missionary and diplomatic communities to provide an American education to mainly English-speaking expatriates. In 1965, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa provided the school with its sprawling, forested 42-acre campus. The school was sponsored by the U.S. State Department Office of Overseas Schools, and fully accredited in the U.S. as a K-12 school by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. At its peak, the school operated close to the campus capacity of 575 students in the 1980s. Today’s enrollment of over 300 students represents slow, sustained growth since 2004. TASOK has continued to develop its programs and resources, and has enjoyed impressive success in college and university placement. Set in a unique environment in the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo, TASOK is a warm, caring, and tight-knit community on a beautiful and safe hilltop campus in the vibrant, culturally rich capital city of Kinshasa. Located on a beautiful 42-acre hilltop campus, TASOK sits amid the largest pristine forest area in Kinshasa. The school’s facilities provide comprehensive resources for its overall program, with 40 air-conditioned classrooms, two science labs, two computer labs, two art classrooms, two separate libraries totaling 18,000 volumes, two volleyball courts, two basketball courts, two soccer fields, a pool, rooms for art, music, band, and drama, and 30 units of housing for foreign-hired faculty. Wireless internet throughout the campus facilitates instruction and exploration. Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital and the second-largest francophone city in the world, is remarkably energetic. While poverty is widespread in the DRC, including Kinshasa, and pockets of insecurity persist and tend to dominate news headlines, the vast majority of the DRC is stable and experiencing slow but steady economic development, with a sustained average of six percent per year economic growth. The city hosts a large international community and a variety of leisure activities including tennis, golf, swimming, and dancing. The art and music scenes are among the best in Africa, with classic Congolese rumba and newer genres in concert nearly every weekend in the city’s many clubs and open-air settings. Kinshasa also boasts an array of local and international restaurants, as well as outdoor pastimes including the Congo River, Zongo Falls, and Bombo Lomene Nature Reserve.
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