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Free Accommodation for Teachers - Meeting Expectations without breaking the bank

South African teachers who teach outside their home nation are often offered free accommodation by the school at which they teach. It is a sad fact of life that if the accommodation does not meet their expectations they may well become unhappy and not fulfill their contract.

In the Middle East teachers are often given the opportunity to choose their rented accommodation. In my experience, if the teacher has the choice they are less likely to be seriously unhappy with their accommodation. However, not all schools can offer this option.

What do South African teachers expect?

Here is my list - it is not exhaustive, but I think it provides a guide.

Teachers are not prepared to share a bedroom with anyone other than a spouse. If the teacher brings a child then there should be a separate room for the child.

The bedroom should have:

  • A bed - single is acceptable, 3/4 is better, and adequate linen and towels
  • Bedside table with a lamp which can be controlled when sitting in bed
  • Cupboard with doors with adequate space for clothing, both hanging and shelf space
  • A table with space for a small microwave, kettle, cups, a couple of spoons, tea and coffee equipment
  • A bar fridge under the table (unless the kitchen is not shared)
  • A desk with space for sets of exercise books which are being marked
  • A chair which is the right height for the desk
  • A bookshelf with plenty of space for reference books
  • A drawer for pens, pencils and other stationery and equipment
  • A comfortable chair in which the teacher can sit and read
  • A window with curtains or blinds
  • A fan or air-conditioning
  • Heating if the winters are cold
  • Appropriate flooring - bare concrete is not appropriate! Tiles should be in good condition, not broken or scruffy.
  • Walls should be clean and neat - painted, papered or otherwise covered in keeping with the local custom
  • The ceiling should be clean
  • Lighting in the room should be good enough for the teacher to work there if she needs to.
  • All the furniture should be in good repair - nothing broken or about to break. Upholstery should be clean and attractive.
  • The room should not give the impression that it was thrown together from odds and ends! A person with some feeling for interior decor should take a look at the room before the teacher arrives, and make any necessary changes.
Bathrooms are an issue. We strongly recommend that, if the accommodation is provided by the school, that each teacher have an en-suite bathroom. The bathroom does not need to be lavish. It can be quite small.

The essential equipment:

  • A shower with a door or curtain
  • A handbasin with a shelf for essentials - soap, toothbrush, toothpaste
  • A toilet
  • A cupboard for toiletries
  • A towel rail
It is possible to buy a bathroom of this sort as a pre-manufactured unit, so that the contractor puts the unit in place and plugs in the water and power. It takes up minimal space, and will cut your resignations significantly!

There is no necessity to provide a bath-tub for every person. A shared tub is likely to be acceptable.

We strongly recommend that teachers rooms be serviced by your staff weekly, who should report back if they find evidence of heavy drinking, smoking or drug use.

In addition to the bedroom and bathroom there is often a communal kitchen, lounge and dining room. Because these are shared spaces it is vital that the teacher can retreat to her bedroom if she needs a quiet place to read, prepare or mark, and the diningroom table can not replace a desk in her room. By the same token, a shared kitchen ridge needs to be backed up by a small fridge in the teacher's bedroom.

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