FAQ

ABOUT ALA

Where is African Leadership Academy located?

The campus is located at 1050 Printech Avenue, Honeydew, Johannesburg, South Africa, which is about a 30-minute drive from the city of Johannesburg.

Is ALA registered and accountable to the Department of Education in South Africa?

African Leadership Academy (ALA) is registered with the Gauteng Department of Education and is subject to the same governmental regulations as any other independent school in South Africa. We are registered with Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) for our international A-Level Curriculum, and we are a member institution of the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA).

Where is African Leadership Academy accredited?

ALA is accredited to operate in South Africa as an educational institution. We are also a member institution of the World Leading Schools Association (WLSA), New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA), Global Online Academy (GOA), International Association for College Admission Counselling (IACAC) and National Association for College Admission Counselling (NACAC). Our graduates are eligible to pursue tertiary education all over the world.

What programs does African Leadership Academy offer?

ALA runs a series of leadership development programmes for young leaders between the ages of 13 and 19. Our flagship two year pre-university Diploma Program is designed for young leaders aged 15-18, who have either completed high school or are in their final year of high school. Our Global Scholars Program is a set of holiday (summer) leadership programs designed for teenagers aged 13-19, while the Model African Union is designed for students aged 14-19. You may learn more about these programs here.

APPLYING TO ALA

What is the two –year pre-university Diploma Program?

ALA’s two-year pre-university Diploma Program is not a full high school, neither is it a university; it is a leadership development program that prepares young leaders for a lifetime of leadership in Africa and around the world, while supporting their transition to tertiary education.

What are the criteria for applying to ALA?

Academic excellence, leadership potential, and a clear sense of purpose. Applicants to ALA are typically between the ages of 15-18 and have either completed high school or are about to complete high school. The application form challenges students to reflect on how they intend to be changemakers in the future and what they have already started to do towards that. We will request for two full years of academic term results plus the completed application form. Applications are open from June – December each year. ALA operates an equal admissions opportunity policy, offering 50% of places to males and 50% to females. To date, we have admitted students from 46 African countries to study at the Academy. Visit www.africanleadershipacademy.org/apply to learn more about applying.

What are the minimum grade requirements for admission?

Admission to ALA is both accessible and selective. Many people think of minimum grade requirements in a national or international examination as being the most important factor in an admissions decision, but it is only one of several factors considered by our admissions department. We do not have fixed minimum grades - we review academic reports over the course of the last two years of school to understand a candidate’s academic trajectory and to gauge their preparedness to thrive in a rigorous environment like ALA. We also consider leadership activities, extracurricular activities, volunteerism, projects started and other such activities alongside the short essays in the application. If a student has been performing consistently well in their previous school (even if they were not top of their class), they stand a chance of being admitted to ALA. Please read here for more on our admissions criteria.

Can I study for ALA for 1 year instead of 2?

Yes, there is a 1-year option to study at ALA, but it does not allow students to write the Cambridge A-level examinations and it does not offer lifelong access to ALA’s network. It is essentially a gap year program through which students may study ALA’s core courses of Entrepreneurial Leadership, African Studies and Writing & Rhetoric, alongside independent research or personal projects. African Leadership Academy has partnered with The School of Ethics and Global Leadership (SEGL), to operate the SEGL at ALA semester program, through which students from around the world study at ALA for a full academic term and live alongside ALA students. They will experience South Africa’s rich history and culture, discover the vibrant city of Johannesburg, and build a deeper understanding of the African continent through their interactions with ALA students. If you are considering writing the Cambridge A-level examinations, it is advisable to apply for the two year Diploma Program.

What are the benefits of studying at ALA for two years before going to university?

ALA’s Diploma program allows students to stud towards the Cambridge A-level examinations alongside our internal curriculum focused on entrepreneurial leadership and personal development. The A-level qualification is the world’s most recognized pre-university qualification, and our leadership curriculum provides a foundation upon which our graduates can build their careers. Joining the ALA network is a lifetime commitment that grants access to a high-powered network of individuals and resources, including access to university scholarships, internships and full-time jobs. Our research has shown that our graduates perform exceptionally well at universities upon graduation from ALA. To date 93% of ALA alumni graduate from university (some at the top of their classes) within five years of enrolment compared with the US average of 59% graduating from university within 6 years of enrolment according to data from the US Department of Education.

When can I apply to ALA, and when can I expect to receive an outcome on my application?

Applications to ALA typically run for seven months every year, between June and December. ALA receives applications through our online application portal, by email, by post and by hand delivery. Our preferred mode of receiving applications is through our online portal, but other modes of submission are accepted as well. Applications are typically processed in three rounds – June – August, September – October, and November – December. The earlier an application is received, the earlier an outcome will be decided. Most applicants can expect to receive the outcome of their applications between 3 and 4 months from the date of submission. Some applicants may be placed on a waitlist while applications are being reviewed.

How does ALA support admitted students to get visas to study in South Africa?

Upon acceptance of admission, we provide relevant documents to support every student in applying for South African study permits work in their home countries. We also work with officials in the South African government to streamline the visa application process for enrolled students. Ultimately, much of the responsibility for preparing the requisite papers and submitting them to the local South African embassy falls upon the student. We will provide a great deal of support in this process and ask only that students submit all of the documents on the timelines presented in the attached checklist and visa form.

TUITION AND FINANCIAL AID

How much is the tuition? Are there any scholarship / financial aid opportunities?

ALA admits exceptional students each year from every socio-economic background. While there are families that are able to afford ALA’s full tuition (USD 30,900 per annum), there are others who require some assistance to study at ALA. During the application process, we ask candidates to indicate if they will require financial assistance. If yes, they will be automatically considered for financial assistance upon offer of admission. The tuition for each student is determined based on the evidence provided to justify the financial need.

Can I appeal the financial aid offer?

After an offer of financial assistance has been made, families have the option of submitting an appeal with further evidence of financial need, if they are not satisfied with the outcome. As a mission-driven institution, we are committed to ensuring that everyone receives the necessary assistance, and that every family contributes within their means to their child’s education.

Is the ALA financial assistance a loan that needs to be repaid?

Financial assistance at ALA is conditional on the need demonstrated by each applicant, and is awarded on the condition that the student commits to work on the African continent for a duration of 10 years, either upon graduation from university or after turning 25 years (whichever comes first). The offer of financial assistance to a student is a joint commitment by the student and by ALA to invest in the future of the continent by developing its future leaders; it comes in the form of a forgivable loan that is repaid to the continent in installments for each year that a student works in Africa. In essence, every year that a student returns to work in Africa, 10% of the loan is forgiven; after working for 10 years, 100% of the loan is forgiven. Please click here to learn more about ALA’s fees and financial assistance policy.

ACADEMICS AT ALA

What academic subjects are included in the curriculum at ALA?

There are three core courses for all students at ALA: Entrepreneurial Leadership, African Studies, Writing & Rhetoric. In the first year, Mathematics is also compulsory. Alongside these, there are elective courses including most of the academic subjects that students already take in their current schools: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Economics, Geography, History etc. Beyond these, there are opportunities in the second year to take courses online with some of our partner institutions around the world through the Global Online Academy, as well as internal research courses like Scientific Research, Humanities Research, Creative Arts, and International Relations etc. Please read here for a detailed look at the academic program at ALA.

What is the A-Level curriculum, and where is it recognized?

African Leadership Academy offers A-Level academic courses, administered through Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), the world’s largest provider of international education programs. The A-Level program is typically a two-year academic course of study that qualifies students for entry into top universities across the continent and around the globe. Students at ALA typically take up to three A-level courses across the Sciences and Humanities. You may find more information at https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/. Students admitted to ALA will be provided with a full course catalogue and provided access to academic advising in choosing classes.

What is the language of instruction at ALA?

Instruction at African Leadership Academy is in the English Language. For students for whom English is not their first language, intensive English support will be provided two weeks prior to the resumption of the academic year, and for the duration of their time at ALA through our English for Excellence program.

Does African Leadership Academy have academic requirements? Do students fail?

African Leadership Academy has a rigorous academic curriculum with clear graduation requirements. Each course carries unit points which add up towards the total required for graduation. Academic support is provided throughout a student’s time at the academy, through our year heads, academic advisors and peer tutors. All of our teachers also hold office hours to support the learning of students. If a student is unable to meet the requisite unit points for graduation, a range of options will be available to them, including withdrawal from the Academy or a certificate of attendance.

How will ALA report results and give feedback on performance to students and parents?

Full academic progress reports are issued at the end of each term, with comments from each subject teacher, the academic advisor and the Dean of the Academy. Students are able to assess to access their academic results throughout the year through our online learning platform, Canvas. After completing the Cambridge A-level examinations, an official statement of results will also be available for every student.

What is the academic calendar? When are holidays?

Our academic year runs from September to June each year, with holidays in December (approximately 3 weeks), March (approximately 2 weeks) and July-August (approximately 9 weeks). This is the inverse of the school calendar in South Africa, which runs from January – November. In many parts of the continent, schools run a September – June academic calendar, and many of the world’s universities in the northern hemisphere run on the same calendar.

RESIDENTIAL LIFE, HEALTH AND SAFETY

Is the ALA campus in a safe location?

The ALA campus, located on the outskirts of Johannesburg is self-contained with perimeter fencing at all boundaries, and a 24-hour security staff that actively monitors and patrols the campus. There are tight access controls for external guests, and detailed procedures for students exiting the Academy for any reason. Access to all dormitories is restricted using a finger print system, and most buildings are closed after hours. The campus is a very short drive from the local police station. In spite of periodic concerns about safety in South Africa, we are very confident that all students and staff on our campus are safe

What is the boarding environment at ALA?

All students live in dormitories on the ALA campus, separated by gender. Most rooms accommodate two students, typically from different countries, and residential assistants in each hall might have single rooms. All students take meals in the dining hall three times daily, with nutritious snacks also provided three times daily. ALA’s catering service is provided by Chartwells, a highly-reputed catering company, with healthy options provided for all students, including vegetarian, Halaal, and Kosher diets.

Are dormitories at ALA classified as “houses”?

There are 12 dormitories at ALA; six for male students, and six for female students. Students from across all dormitories are divided up into six “houses”, providing them with a similar community of 25-30 students, faculty and staff with whom they forge close bonds and participate in inter-house competitions (such as music, debate and sports).

Do faculty live in the dormitories with students?

Residential life is coordinated by ALA’s Assistant Dean and Head of Pastoral Care who lives on campus alongside several members of faculty, our Head of Security, resident counsellors, psychologists and a matron. Life in each dormitory is administered by the residential faculty members who are assigned to those dormitories, with the support of a student Residential Assistant. In addition, every faculty member at ALA spends some time in the evenings, at least once a week, providing additional supervision to students and supporting evening studies.

Should students bring spending money or mobile phones to campus?

ALA operates a cashless economy for students, thus parents and guardians are encouraged to deposit spending money into each student’s account for their periodic use. Students are not expected to have significant out-of-pocket expenditures during their time at ALA, however, they will be able to purchase essentials from our on-campus tuck shop. Additional expenses such as those for social activities, hygienic supplies, postage, and telephone calls will be the responsibility of each student during scheduled trips to shopping malls. Students will also be supported to open South African bank accounts, so parents will be able to deposit money in those accounts as well. Students are allowed to have mobile phones on campus to communicate with friends and family at home, but they are advised to not use mobile phones in their classes, unless with the permission of the teacher.

Are students allowed to leave campus and if so, in what context?

Students are only allowed to leave campus under the supervision of ALA staff members, for large group excursions, or other situations with permission from a parent/guardian. Students may travel under staff supervision for activities such as recreational trips to the bank, shopping mall, local theatre or sporting events. Other events might include conferences, competitions or other such external programming that adds to the student experience.

Will students wear a uniform?

ALA has standard school uniforms for its students. These uniforms are provided to all students upon their arrival on campus, and they will be worn during class time and at external functions. On evenings and weekends, students may dress casually.

What extracurricular programs, clubs, activities, and sports are offered? What facilities are available for these programs and for art, music, and drama?

There are a wide range of clubs, sports, and other activities, with the offerings each year determined by student and faculty interest. Sports are a fundamental part of student life at ALA, and every student is expected to participate in either competitive or recreational sports during their time at the Academy. Popular sporting options include soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and athletics. We also engage in periodic inter-school sporting activities and competitions. Students are also supported and encouraged to participate in a wide range of clubs and societies catering to diverse interests: these include ALA’s a capella music group (ALApella), drama club, robotics club, African dance, Interact (Rotaract) club, Chess club etc.

Will students be able to practice their religious beliefs or cultural customs on campus?

African Leadership Academy is not affiliated with any religious organization, and we encourage students to practice the religious beliefs or cultural customs that are important to them. There are available facilities on campus for prayer and religious activities and ALA welcomes religious leaders in the local community that provide services and support for our students.

Will students have health insurance? Will there be a nurse on campus?

Every student who attends ALA is provided with basic health insurance coverage. A nurse is on call at all hours, and most faculty, including all residential faculty are trained in CPR and First Aid. Our campus is located in close proximity to a number of private hospitals, and students are supported to access specialist healthcare when required.

Are parents allowed to visit students on campus?

Parents are allowed to visit students on campus and also sign them out for a meal off campus if they wish. Parental visits should be arranged in advance with the Assistant Dean and Head of Pastoral Care, and parents are asked not to disrupt class periods except in the case of family emergencies.

Will students have the opportunity to go home during breaks? Will trips home be funded?

All students are expected to travel home during the two major holidays – December and June-July. ALA’s cover of these travel costs is dependent on the student’s individual financial assistance award. During shorter mid-term breaks (usually 5 days), and during the Easter holidays, most students will choose to remain on campus, and students who have relatives in South Africa may choose to visit them. ALA staff will be present on campus during these breaks to supervise those who remain on campus.

UNIVERSITY TRANSITION AND LIFE AFTER ALA

How does African Leadership Academy facilitate university transition for students?

African Leadership Academy employs a full-time team of experienced university guidance counsellors who work with students to help them navigate the university admissions process – including shortlisting universities, writing required examinations, securing recommendation letters, submitting applications, applying for financial aid. We work to ensure that our graduates maximize their chances of gaining admission to and financial assistance from the universities that best match their interests and needs. Our counsellors guide each student in identifying universities that fit their career goals and financial backgrounds. The Academy does not guarantee that a student will gain entrance to any particular university: university applications are ultimately the responsibility of each student with the support of their families, and admissions decisions are driven by the universities to which students apply. We, however, commit to provide students with ample institutional support to ensure that they present the best applications possible.

Which universities typically admit ALA graduates?

We support our students to apply to universities that matches their interests and goals. These universities may be in Africa or outside the continent, but they must provide our graduates with resources – faculty, libraries, laboratories, and technology offerings – that will prepare them to lead in an increasingly competitive global arena. We expect some students to attend universities outside Africa, and we embrace these decisions. Global exposure and cross-cultural awareness is fundamental to leadership in the twenty-first century. While we acknowledge that not all students will proceed to university after ALA, the vast majority of our students will pursue that path. Since 2010, ALA alumni have been admitted to more than 160 universities across the world for undergraduate studies, and more than 230 universities when factoring postgraduate studies. These include globally reputed universities in the USA, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. You may view the complete list of universities that have admitted ALA graduates here

Does ALA support graduates with internship and career placements?

Yes. By joining African Leadership Academy, each young leader is granted access to a lifelong network which includes career support. A dedicated team at African ALA maintain a cohesive network of alumni, and provides them with professional development trainings, resume support, and guidance with applying to excellent internship and job opportunities across the African continent. This pan-African network collaborates to drive positive change across the continent.