Esol Education’s story begins with its founder, Chairman and Superintendent, Walid Abushakra. Mr. Abushakra began his career as an educator in Lebanon, teaching mathematics and physics at the secondary school level. By the age of 32, he had become a school Director and had co-authored two series of mathematics textbooks.
Follow the Esol Education journey from our founding years till the present date by swiping right on the timeline below, and read on to learn more.
In 1969, Mr. Abushakra became Director of the Universal College in Aley, one of Lebanon's most historic and prestigious schools, founded in 1907. When the Lebanese Civil War broke out in 1975, he looked beyond his home country and sought to bring high quality American and international education to the broader region. He left for the United States in 1975, and later he established a new American school in Kuwait called the Universal American School (UAS-Kuwait).
Mr. Abushakra tailored the school to the local community, instilling a positive and pleasant but conservative school atmosphere with highly qualified American teachers and administrators. During Mr. Abushakra’s fourteen years as its Superintendent, its enrollment grew to over 1,500 students. Its top graduates were going on to elite American universities like Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. UAS-Kuwait had a profound impact on education in the Gulf emirate as its success led to the emergence of many other new international schools.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Mr. Abushakra relocated to Cairo, Egypt and worked to establish the American International School in Egypt (AISE). He was able to open the school in late September, less than two months after the invasion. The school met with instant recognition and success, and within a few years it was attracting the children and grandchildren of the leaders of Egyptian government, culture, and the private sector. AISE grew tremendously in the years to follow, and today its enrollment exceeds 3,000 students on two campuses. It also changed the landscape of private education in Egypt as schools following international curricula began to appear throughout Greater Cairo.
With AISE's success and his growing reputation in the field, Mr. Abushakra established Esol Education as a school management company and began to pursue other opportunities. In 1993, Esol assumed management of the International School in Cyprus and renamed it the American International School in Cyprus and has operated the school since. In 1995, Esol opened the American International School in Abu Dhabi. Over the course of the following five years Esol Education operated three different schools in Saudi Arabia. In 2000 Esol bought, restored, and reopened UCA in Lebanon, where Mr. Abushakra’s career as an educational leader had begun three decades earlier. The company then expanded further in 2005 and 2006, establishing two new schools in Dubai and three new purpose-built campuses in Cairo.
In 2016, Esol Education was invited by the Hong Kong Bureau of Education to establish the non-profit American School Hong Kong, after winning a competitive bid process. 2018 saw the launch of Dunecrest American School and Fairgreen International School in Dubai, followed by the launch of American School of Bahrain in September 2020.
Today Esol Education’s team of educators and other professionals operates a total of ten schools in the Middle East and Mediterranean region providing high quality education, known for uniformly high educational standards and broad academic and extra-curricular programs that complement core subjects with equally strong programs in arts, culture, and athletics.
Esol Education and its schools have longstanding affiliations with the leading organizations in international education, such as the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) and the Association of International School Heads (AISH), as well as regional organizations like the Near East/South Asia Council of Overseas Schools (NESA) and the Mediterranean Association of International Schools (MAIS).
Esol Education has received international recognition in many forms, including a number of awards and honors bestowed upon its founder and Chairman, Mr. Walid Abushakra. In 2005 he became the first American of Arab descent to be inducted into AAIE’s Hall of Fame for international education. In 2006, the International Schools Association (ISA), which is an NGO of the United Nations, recognized Mr. Abushakra’s many accomplishments by making him the sole recipient of its “Award for Distinguished Service in International Education."