IST: 50 Years of Growth

September 2013 // What’s Happening In Dar Magazine //

Feature: IST 50th Anniversary


Expansive and ambitious as the school is now, when IST first opened its doors on Cameron Road in September of 1963, it had 214 elementary-aged pupils and ten teachers, mostly recruited from within Tanzania. At the time, it was also the first international school in the region. Differences from then until now range from the trivial and intimate – Cameron Road is now United Nations Road, to huge and more worldly – Tanzania’s population growth has almost quintupled from 10 million in 1960 to 47 million in 2012. Despite its own growth of population, IST continues to prove itself as a cornerstone in the Dar community and within Africa’s private education system. This year, as the school celebrates its 50th birthday, Whats Happening In Dar takes a closer look at the school and its achievements over time.


Humble Beginnings

IST stands for the International School of Tanganyika, referencing a time when Tanganyika and Zanzibar had yet to unify to become Tanzania as we know it today. In 1962, as businesses and international presence emerged thanks to the newly-sovereign Tanganyika, community members began to explore the possibility of setting up an international school in Dar es Salaam. This group of individuals was led by Dr. Michael Latham and Sir Andy Chande, and the school would likely exist in a different capacity if it weren’t for them.

By the end of the first year alone, the school community had grown to 305 pupils and 15 full-time teachers. The first head of the school was Mrs. Irene West (nee Leach) from 1963-1965, who witnessed the school grow from 214 students to more than 400. In January 1965, Dr. Michael Latham, effectively IST’s founding father, was awarded OBE, or the title of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for the work he had done in establishing the school (much later down the road, in August 2003, Sir Andy Chande was also recognized when he was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire).


Early Years

By September 1966, the school enrollment topped 531 students. In the immediate years that followed, two flats of teacher housing, a laboratory, a library, a music room, and an assembly hall were added to accommodate the growing staff and student population. Land for a playing field was bought and built. The pool was added in 1967, establishing a swim program at the school that continues to be both popular and competitive today.

The school has faced various challenges over the years due to changing world events, which have had effects (albeit minor) on enrollment. One of the biggest challenges faced by the school occurred during the 1970’s, when the limited capacity of the United Nations Road campus simply could not accommodate Dar es Salaam’s growing population. In 1978, the school made the decision to expand to an Upper School on the Msasani Peninsula, opening with just a single block of classrooms. In June of 1980 the first IST student sat for a mathematics GCSE exam, and the following year there were 10 students, The International Baccalaureate program was introduced in 1983, and has since become the main diploma program at IST, allowing the school to compete with other top international school programs. After years of more construction, the secondary campus as it stands opened its Masaki Campus doors on August 30, 1986.


IST As We Know It

Recent years have seen a focus on campus improvement in addition to the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. IST continues to grow, with a new Design Technology Building opening in 2008 to keep up with modern times, and a new Science Building opening in 2009. Off-campus housing for staff and their families have been a work in progress, to ensure that teachers and their families are safe and comfortable during their tenure on campus. And of course, the most recent project that we’ve all likely witnessed if driving down Haile Selassie: a new parking lot and school facade, completed summer 2013.

Since 1963, 17 heads of schools have passed through IST’s doors. In addition to being a well-managed and well-staffed institution, the school prides itself in being a highly diverse international school with students from across the globe. Today, IST families are a mix of long-term residents, Tanzanian citizens, expatriates in a growing private sector, and NGO and diplomatic workers from numerous countries. A focus is placed on international inclusion, which is certainly no surprise after hearing the mix of cultures and birth countries of attending students. An emphasis on community activism is also given, and for the older students, travelling programs are part of the school year in hopes to provide life experience outside of Dar es Salaam. Alumni reach all corners of the globe, attending top universities around the world and settling into various acclaimed professions. Current enrollment numbers hover around the 1000-student mark, a drastic difference from the first 214 elementary pupils that attended the single campus when the school first opened its doors.

Jessie Chien Bryson is not a student of IST, but she likes to think herself a student – of the world. She is an American currently living in Dar es Salaam and has compiled this issue’s multi-page feature on the school and its anniversary events. As a writer and photographer, she keeps a blog of her life in the U.S. and abroad at

IST: A Golden Jubilee


If you’ve driven by IST in the last few weeks, you will have noticed a face lift given to the facade of IST’s secondary campus. With the final touches placed in August, the school looks as shiny as a brand new car. But with an administrative and educational history that predates its new parking lot by 50 years, this year marks a major milestone as IST celebrates its Golden Jubilee.

As one of the leading international schools in the area, planning for the celebration began last year. When families and students enjoyed their school holiday over these last few months, a team of planners has pushed forward with full steam. A campus celebration on September 16 will mark the date of the school’s very first opening. On this day, the whole school – Elementary campus, Secondary campus, all staff, parents and alumni – will gather in the morning to celebrate. Events will include a parade by the Elementary students wearing their national dress, booths featuring the countries represented within the IST community, and a chance for Secondary students to perform.

Later in the week, a Gala will be held at the Serena Hotel, for an evening of fun, friendship and memories as the IST community comes together to celebrate the school’s golden jubilee. The event is sponsored by IST in collaboration with the Alumni Association. IST Communications Manager Deb Becklund estimates that out of the 3500 or so alumni who have passed through IST’s doors, they hope around 50-100 will return to take part in the events.

If you are an IST alumni who would like to participate in events during the week of September 16, or would simply like more information about the school and its mission, please check the IST website for more information:

IST Cheat Sheet


About IST:

A non-profit, parent-governed, independent, co-educational day school for children age 3 to grade 12. The nomenclature of the school itself, International School of Tanganyika, reflects the fact that it was founded in 1963 before the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar.


Two campuses, Elementary and Secondary, located in the Upanga and Masaki/Msasani Peninsula (respectively)


1000 students representing more than 50 nationalities with 80% of the students speaking more than one language: 20% of the students are Tanzanians, 14% American, 14% British, 7% South African, and the remainder from approximately 50 other nationalities.


120 teachers from 20 different countries, 40% with advancement degrees


Approximately 3500 alumni who are currently working in medicine, biomedical research, fine arts, international development and economics, to name a few of the areas.


International Baccalaureate (IB) World School; Council of International Schools (CIS); Middle States Association (MSA)


Where Diversity Meets Inspiration.”


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