Definitely a challenge, not just battling the heat but also finding the right school in Khartoum and that's while you're still in the air-conditioned airport. Once out in the blazing sun, you may even be grateful that there are so few international schools and you don’t have to traipse round dozens, in a state of melting misery.
However, don’t let the climate deter you; hundreds of expat families have paved the way ahead of you and have come out of Khartoum with an appreciation of the land and the people—and a new appreciation of central air conditioning as well!
At present, as in many other countries there are dozens of billboards (same blurb, different city) advertising terrific sounding “English” schools. But with a little more exploration, the majority of these turn out to be schools for local Sudanese who want to learn English. The teachers are not necessarily native English speakers and the curriculum is mainly in Arabic with a few English classes on the side.
So, if you are a parent moving to Sudan with your school-aged children, try and have as many conversations as possible with other parents - preferably before you even think of booking a ticket - and you will soon find out that although international schools are very thin on the ground - basically two or maybe three that have more than a tiny percentage of children from different nationalities.
First, take into consideration the transportation issues, as Khartoum is a sprawling city with heavy traffic and you will have to arrange for your children to get to and from school. Public transportation is not reliable, and only one school, Khartoum International Community School, offers a school bus service.
The choice of international schools is strictly limited but the two most popular are: Khartoum American School and Khartoum International Community School, both fully accredited, Then there is the tiny École Francaise de Khartoum and Unity High School is open to expats but has a student population that is almost entirely Sudanese.
As elsewhere in the world, parents are usually looking for schools with curricula that will allow their children to transition easily, both into the school and also when they move on to either the next posting or back home. In Khartoum, Unity High School is the only option (if you are looking for an English curriculum as they offer IGCSEs and A Levels) but it is definitely not an international school in the sense that expats expect.
The pickings are marginally greater if you want to find an American education as you have the choice of either Khartoum American School, which offers Advanced Placement courses on top of the American High School Diploma or Nile Valley Academy, which also teaches an adapted American curriculum but fits in IGCSEs before the High School Diploma. The latter provides more of a local experience as it provides daily Arabic lessons but again, remember, this is basically a local school and the seats are almost entirely filled by Sudanese students.
For more information on these schools, please go to each school’s individual entry on the GSGI database or The GSGI article 'Best schools in Khartoum considered by expats'.
Nurseries and preschools
This seems to be a growth industry in Khartoum and expat parents have mentioned at least three places that they were happy with.
The most popular one is the Purple Crayon Infant School which offers a bright, welcoming environment. Its main advantages are that it has a staff with native English speaking teachers, and its small size. The school has grown upwards and now teaches up to age 11. The fact that there is usually a waiting list for the pre-kindergarten is a good indication of its popularity.
Whilst, attempts are being made to modernise the local education system, the standards are not yet, in any way, up to the level that expats are looking for. Additionally, the primary language is Arabic, which will probably prove too great a hurdle for children, with English as their mother tongue, to jump over.
As you can see from the brevity of the list of international schools, this is not a city where there is the luxury of a large choice but, the schools (apart from Unity High School) are small and provide an alternative to leaving your children behind in your home country.