Our (not unambitious) goal is to transform the prospects of sub-Saharan Africa in a generation – by showing nursery school teachers the power of play, and how to make educational games out of waste material.
Africa faces multiple challenges - poor governance, lack of investment, abuse of resources.
The biggest challenge of all is its demographics. Today the population of the Continent accounts for 17% of the world’s. That’s forecast to be over 40% by 2100.
In our view, these difficulties can all be addressed through better education. With better education people would choose stronger leaders, attract more investment and husband resources more wisely.
And a girl who can read has two children on average; one that doesn’t has five.
In our view, one of the reasons education has struggled is that children don’t have their “brains turned” on adequately in their crucial formative first seven years.
This is because nursery school teachers are invariably untrained and unresourced. And because they don’t understand the importance of play.
Our programme meets this challenge head on. It is very low cost (at about USD 3 per child per annum), highly scalable and it seems to work.
We provide training courses to nursery school teachers that aim to stimulate and educate in the hope of transforming a child’s formative first years of school. The courses run for two years and consist of sixteen training Modules that explain how best to organise a classroom, the importance of play and how to use waste materials to make games and activities.
In addition, our Trainers arrange support groups and visit the teachers in their class rooms monthly and then, at a reduced level, indefinitely. We aim to create clusters of self-supporting nursery school teachers in the cities and towns of the countries that we address.
The teachers welcome our involvement because it doesn’t cost them anything; unlocks their creativity; makes them feel valued and value added; creates a sense of community amongst them; and clearly benefits the children.
Our programme began in Namibia in 2013 and expanded to Malawi in 2016 and Zambia in 2019. We launched in Botswana, Uganda and Burundi in 2021. We would like to take it to other countries over time.
The meerkat faces on the map show where our Regional Coordinators are located.Meet the trainers
We establish local NGOs in each country which interact with local Ministries who appear very much to welcome our involvement. Whilst the importance of nursery schools is well understood they do not have the resources to provide widespread training in what is a hard to reach sector.
Our local NGOs are sponsored by Perivoli Schools Trust (Holdings) which is a Mauritian Purpose Trust with James Alexandroff, Tom Newton and SANNE Mauritius as trustees. Its role is to set budgets, devise strategy and oversee the Country Directors.
There is a powerful digital backbone to our programme. Each of our Trainers is issued with a tablet computer. The Trainers use them to collect information about the Teachers they train and the children in their classes. This information helps us to direct the Trainers more effectively and to monitor the children through primary school so as to assess the impact of our programme.
We take privacy seriously and ask all those involved (Trainers, Teachers, School Principals and Parents/Guardians) to consent in writing to our engagement with them and recording of personal information about them.
We have adapted the programme to address the implications of COVID by encouraging regular hand washing and social distancing and showing teachers how to make a mask out of a waste piece of material.
The programme has been funded hitherto by the Perivoli Trust.
Longer term we hope that the running will be taken up by our sister Trust, Perivoli Innovations, which invests in the life science, MedTech, renewable energy and digital sectors.
Funding is routed through the Perivoli Foundation, a U.K. Charity, which supports this initiative, as well as the Perivoli Africa Research Centre at the University of Bristol and a number of niche, founder-led charities. In the education, conservation and poverty amelioration sectors
We have trained over 8,750 nursery school teachers including more than 6,250 in Namibia, accounting for about two thirds of those in the country, over 2,000 in Malawi and approaching 500 in Zambia.
There are over 200,000 nursery school teachers still to reach in the countries that we are targeting. Now that our platform is well established, particularly the digital backbone, we plan to scale rapidly in anticipation of Perivoli Innovations being able to fund it. So we believe that the 200,000 target is eminently achievable.