We are Growing Problem Solvers at The Dow Academy

The Dow Academy (TDA) is a family-owned daycare, preschool, primary and secondary school in Mochudi, Botswana.

We offer technical, vocational and life skills and a quality academic programme that compares favourably with curricula found currently in basic education institutions across the world. Our objective is to graduate students who, at 18-years-old, can contribute meaningfully to society because we have nurtured their talents and interests.

Our school is 27 years old this year. Under its new name, The Dow Academy, it turned two years old on 1 January 2022.

I am a Motswana raised in Mochudi, by a teacher father, a lawyer mother and the international collection of people that also called my village home during the 1980s and early 1990s. Among them were Germans, English men and women, Norwegians, Americans, Dutch men and women, Australians and Spaniards, who were peppered across Mochudi, either teaching, practicing medicine, writing, taking photographs, hunting, or doing research. They became interwoven into the tapestry that would become my life.

I left Botswana in 1998 for Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in the United States, where I achieved a BA Economics degree. I spent the third year of my Bachelor’s as a visiting student at the School of Oriental and African Studies (London University), after which I headed back to the US to study at the University of Cincinnati and graduated with a Juris Doctor degree.

Whilst studying for my law degree, I spent a semester at the University of Cape Town as a visiting student. I obtained my LLM Finance and Law degree at the Duisenberg School of Finance in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. In between my adventures in different parts of the world, I worked mostly in financial services in the areas of legal, compliance and operational risk. My last pit stop on this circuitous route to becoming the CEO of The Dow Academy, was as a salesperson for a company that sells rough diamonds.

Where and who we are

At TDA, we believe in the promise and power of quality education. As a child, my mother once said to me, ‘I cannot understand anyone, who, when given a choice, would choose ignorance.’ Moreover, whenever the dubious proclivities of humanity were being debated, my grandmother would quietly ask, ‘Did they go to school, or are they educated?’”

These are the turns of phrases that join my carbon atoms. They are the reasons why I run a school.

Mochudi is a traditional Botswana village. It is sprawling, spacious, secure, and a place where we take turns feeding large groups of people whatever the occasion. Mochudi is home to people who don’t know how to quit their choral music history, whose particular brand of Setswana is littered with borrowed Dutch words, whose people gave safe harbour to South African freedom fighters during apartheid, who speak plainly and sometimes with a little bit more pride than sense.

In a word, it is a community which has a strong sense of identity, which at the end of each year gathers in groups under trees, to sing and dance in unison, in unforgiving heat to melodies whose origins are lost in antiquity. It is from this community that we hosted a self-taught fine artist to paint a mural at the school, and from this community a master potter trained in the Setswana method by her paternal aunt (Rakgadi) more than 60 years ago also bequeathed beautiful pots to the school.

Our unique offering

We are the only privately owned school that offers services from daycare to the end of secondary school in Mochudi, which is 40 km north of Gaborone. We offer:

  1. A curriculum which nurtures the talents and self-worth of each student.
  2. Assessment that is respectful of the learning style of each student.
  3. A flagship platform called TDA Tech Series®.
  4. A dynamic teaching approach where learners actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge and preparedness to tackle future problems.

Our TDA Tech Series® programme is capacitated through collaboration with companies and universities across the world that have skills, expertise or other resources which they are willing to leverage for the purpose of advancing basic education. The individuals with whom we partner are professionals from different industries ranging from film, to computer hardware and software, car mechanics and electricity, to journalism, leadership development, career mentoring and much more.

One of our school values is community, and as such, diversity and inclusivity is a big driver in all decision-making forums. We have almost 10 nationalities represented in our student and staff cohorts. Our community jointly speaks more than 10 languages.

TDA’s approach

TDA’s approach is consistently polished under pressure, and via volatility and disruption. Our track record for finding a way through novel challenges to bring real innovation to basic education is unmatched, especially given the context and the timelines within which we have delivered. Team TDA is reimagining education to grow problem solvers in rural Botswana at a level of ingenuity that is world class.

The professionals at TDA are committed to the work. The key challenge we have faced is keeping parent and student confidence high during a period of significant uncertainty, fear and anxiety. We took over the school on 1 January 2020, three months before the first COVID-19 hard lockdowns in southern Africa. We returned to school after almost two months to an anxious world.

Masks, sanitisers and future variants notwithstanding, at the beginning of January 2022, TDA opened the doors to its first class of international secondary school boarding students. The class of 2026 will be the inaugural cohort to follow the new integrated TDA curriculum. They will have achieved the International General Certification in Education (IGCSE) as well as technical and vocational qualifications and sports development as each student will have followed a course of study based on the exploration of multiple pathways of learning and skills development.

ISASA membership means cross-border collaboration

We joined ISASA in July 2021, because we are a regional school looking to make connections and forge relationships that will facilitate an even more diverse offering and opportunities for both our students and staff. Africa needs regional solutions in education. We are hoping ISASA will be a platform that facilitates cross-border collaboration.

For us at TDA, being an independent school means having the agility and flexibility to grow problem-solvers with the courage and creativity to tackle the questions yet to be asked, and the sense of community necessary to answer them sustainably.