Culture Diversity: What Schools Can Learn From KISU

KISU is home to pupils and students from diferent nationalities and cultures KISU is home to pupils and students from diferent nationalities and cultures COURTESY PHOTO

The culture diversity at Kampala International School Uganda also known as KISU is not one you can find in many places. The school was established in 1993 as Kabira International School with a population less than 70 students is home to students from 55 nationalities. These are students of different age groups.

The school which sits on 14 acres of land can easily pass as the best international school in the country. It has some of the best classroom teaching and learning tools and facilities like science labs, computer labs, practice music rooms, three performance areas, and indoor gym, outdoor basketball court, a 25m eight-lane competition pool, libraries, five acres of playing fields and smart boards in most classrooms.

English national curriculum

The school adopted the English National Curriculum for the Primary School through Year-9 in the Secondary School. After that, the school management says, students study for the internationally recognised Cambridge IGCSE (examined in Y11) and IB Diploma (examined in Y13).

Steve Lang, the school director, says the curriculum ensures that rigorous educational standards are maintained and that progression of educational experience is monitored. The IB Diploma is generally regarded as the university entrance programme of choice often preferred above national requirements. “The curriculum has been adapted to reflect the international diversity of our school community and its location in Uganda,” said Lang.

The school manager note that academic excellence is achieved through high expectations, strong motivation, a challenging curriculum, constant encouragement and excellent teaching. The school offers a friendly and imaginative environment where students are encouraged to discover and develop individual talents, whether they are intellectual, creative or sporting.

Lang reveals that a good education is about far more than what takes place in the classroom explaining that it is about guiding the whole person towards his or her full potential.

“A great school helps students to develop qualities as learners and leaders that will serve them well throughout their adult lives such as resilience, empathy, creativity, commitment, adaptability, self-confidence and humility,”

“A great school helps students to acquire transferable skills like teamwork, analysis, problem-solving, effective communication, evaluation, active listening, reflection and research; and it helps students to shape and consolidate their values such as tolerance, integrity, altruism and hard work. KISU is such a school,”

Celebrating culture richness

Asked in an interview if managing hundreds of children from different cultural background is not a hard task, Lang says no, that it is very easy. “If you can move around say at play time or lunch time you will very commonly see different friendship group made of kids from different continents. We are completely color blind and completely inclusive about each other’s cultures,”

Lang, who has been at the school for slightly over a year, says children see the cultural diversity as ‘a positive’ and an opportunity ‘to learn about other different parts of the world’. “And you know we talk of a global village, which better school to go than this one with this kind of cultural richness to prepare you for an experience in a global village,”

One of the programs at the school to harness this cultural diversity is putting in place what they call culture international day were classes are closed and students of different age groups miggle to interact and know about each other’s culture, nationality and make friends.

“This is a day were we celebrate our multiculturalism and tremendous variety that we have. At KISU, we have about 55 nationalities represented in our student body, 12 % of our student body is Ugandan and the rest comes from the rest of the world and to us it is a source of great joy and richness. We are enriched by these cultures and we learn about each other.

So we take off a day were normal lessons are cancelled, it is the last day of second term and we dress the way you are seeing, in our cultural attires (national dress), we bring our national food. We partake in each other’s different cultural activities particularly things that suit children and we enjoy each other.

But with this diversity comes with challenges like language barrier. KISU is a predominantly English speaking school but it has a program where students who come with no knowledge of the English language are trained by professionals called English as a national language teachers up to a level where they can participate in all the learning at the school as soon as possible.


The teaching is cosmopolitan and Lang says most teachers have a teaching background in the UK or with the UK systems. While many teachers come the UK, many are Ugandans, Russians, American, French and from other parts of the world.

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