Today, the American School of Yaoundé (ASOY) has 167 students from over 32 countries and is international accredited for offering an International Bacccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) for students in grades 11 and 12 plus, the Primary Year Program (PYP) and the middle Year Program (MYP). Created in 1964 and located at Rue Martin Samba, it is the only English-speaking accredited institution in Central Africa that offers an American style of education with a well-deserved reputation for delivering high quality education program for over 50 years. The transition from the survival of a community school to its status today as one of the best international schools in Africa needs to be told and preserved. The story of the American International School of Yaoundé reflects the developing maturity of the international school system around the world, as well as the birth and growth of nurturing global citizens in Central Africa. It is a story of solidifying friendships and increasing self-confidence to empower, excel, engage and to develop the spirit of International Mindedness.
The Story Behind the History
As Cameroon gained its independence in the 1960s, it established strong diplomatic ties with other nations. It was only imperative that foreigners come to live and work in a country which was blessed with abundant natural resources. As the number of expatriates increased in Cameroon, it was critical for them to savor their kids with education that will nurture them into global citizens as the cry internationally at the time from the United Nations focused on a world of respect for diversity, it was urgent that the American School of Yaoundé be born to nurture students to be global citizens and champion the spirit of International Mindedness.
In 1964, the American School of Yaoundé was born to provide an American style of education to predominantly American families living and working in Cameroon. It was an initiative which was greatly welcome by the American Embassy of Yaoundé. The school was placed under the care of the embassy to facilitate the recruitments of US hired teachers. The venue for the school was located at Rue Martin Samba. Prior to their stay at campus, the property was owned by the Russians and was used as their embassy. The property was bought and used as the campus and at the same time, part was used as the American Club owned by the embassy.
The premise was shared, and the marines and peace corps used the club for recreational activities up till about the year 1998 when the institution bought the property from the embassy. The building was not as gigantic as the one we have today. This explains why in 1964, there was just four cleaning staff, two drivers and four administrative officials. There were equally just two buses and the director had to live on campus.
In 1982, ASOY’s campus was richly diversified with the presence of other foreign nationals like the Israelis and Indians. With a student population of about 100, there were few foreign teachers and ASOY didn’t have the luxury of having teaching assistants. Teachers came from the US and others from Rainforest International (A school based in Yaoundé). As the number enrolment grow, the school sought to increase its staff.
In 1992, a third driver was added while the cleaning staff remained the same to cater for 15 classrooms and an office. There was just a single office which featured the director, receptionist, cashier and accountant.
Despite such a humble beginning, the school’s standard still topped the charts in the 90s. Though it started as a community college with students from predominantly American families with very timid enrolment, word later spread of the school’s standards. Grades 1-8 was first conventional and then 9-12 was established in the fall of 1996.
In 1998, that’s 34 years later after its creation, ASOY was international recognized and accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA). This recognition international laid the foundation for nurturing global citizens in Central Africa.
In 2000, ASOY’s cultural mixture welcomed locals and other nationalities like French, German and British students. Local teachers were equally hired this year to teach French language. The maiden edition of the celebration of the International Day was equally created this year. This day was characterized by the sharing and the celebration of ASOY’s cultural diversity. The day strived to empower students to embrace their cultural diversities in order to become caring and fulfilled global citizens that will positively impact the society. In the year 2000 ASOY also celebrated their first graduate class.
The year 2000 also witnessed the blend between teachers and teaching assistants. As the student population grew, the need to make learning most effective provided this blend. The use of local and foreign based teachers solidified ASOY’s cultural blend and contributed to its mission to engage, empower and excel. With the addition of 5 extra classrooms, the cleaning and maintaining staff became 10 in number to cater for about 20 classrooms. It was equally during this year that the director’s lodging was relocated to a neighborhood in Yaoundé called ‘’Bastos’’ and her previous apartment on campus reformed and structured to classrooms.
In the early 2000s, ASOY began to do some facelift on campus. The Campus in 2001- 2002 witness the construction of a new building. This building was used as classrooms plus as the Counselor’s office. Still within the same year, the music and the design room were constructed at the roof top of the canteen.
From 2002 to 2003, construction works within the campus became rampant. That year ASOY did its five-year report (2002) to CIS and MSA. The basketball court was roofed, and construction work started in 2003 for the storage room.
In 2010, ASOY’s reputation was already felt in the Central Africa Sub Region. This year, the school’s administration sought it wise to buy new buses. The air-conditioned buses were used to transport students for academic or recreational activities. Still within 2010, plans for the construction of the building ASOY has today started. Architects were brought from the US to best see what structure can be put up. During their visit, these architects met with the entire ASOY community and got everyone’s perspective on what structure they want. In 2012, the official plan was out.
In 2014 construction work began. It was During this year, ASOY celebrated its 50th anniversary of a successful past, an excellent present and a promising future. This event provided the historical transition of ASOY as a community school to the first internationally accredited English-speaking institution in Central Africa. After the celebration of the 50th anniversary of a well-deserved reputation, in 2017, construction work was done and behold came the magnificent campus that ASOY has today.
During the school year 2018-2019, ASOY campus had its 10 years accreditation visit and the council retain their trust for ASOY as an international school. In all, despite such a humble beginning, and more than 50 years legacy of impact, ASOY keeps challenging itself to continue using the power of education to support families, promote cultural diversity and revitalize communities. Today, our society is transforming at a dizzying pace, with technological, demographic, and global economic shifts reshaping how we live and work. Some will benefit from these forces of change, while others risk being left behind. As ASOY looks to the future, we are identifying solutions that can advance fairness and upward mobility in the decades ahead and determining how we will nurture our students to be global citizens to positively impact the society. In collaboration with the entire ASOY community, we are pursuing a vision where all our students, regardless of their identity or their country code, have the chance to; engage, empower and excel in order for them to be fulfilled global citizens that can impact the society.