We have a two-pronged solution:
We have developed a bespoke training programme with initial input from Renee Lighton, SA Educationalist, to quickly and inexpensively reach as many nursery school teachers as possible. Perivoli employs local trainers, who are organized in groups of five or six overseen by a Regional Co-ordinator and Country Director.
The Perivoli Trainers demonstrate to teachers, across eight Modules, how to structure their week, organise their classrooms and interact with the children. They explain how play activities enhance a child’s development and how to make educational aids and toys from everyday waste materials such as discarded plastic bottles, bottle tops, egg trays, beans and seed pods.
The Modules cover everything from how to make books out of folded shop posters to how to set up and equip a reading corner. Our trainers also run support groups between the delivery of the Modules so as to reinforce the messages.
Perivoli Trainers make monthly visits to attend the classes of the teachers they are training.
At each visit the Perivoli Trainer is required to update a class child attendance register and measure progress against fourteen Perivoli Progress Indicators (see Progress tab) as well as agree with the teacher one or two areas for further improvement ahead of the next visit.
Once a teacher has completed the eight training Modules, he or she is awarded a Perivoli Certificate at a community ceremony. This is often the only formal mark of recognition that a teacher will ever have received.
We also offer four advanced training Modules to reinforce key messages awarding a Perivoli Certificate of Excellence to those who complete all of them. The trainer will continue with regular visits until the Perivoli Indicators have been reached. Even then, the Perivoli Trainer will continue to make intermittent visits to check that all is well.
Nursery schools in Sub-Saharan Africa tend to be informal and unregulated with no formal syllabus set and minimal teacher training provided. This is because they tend to fall under the purview of the Ministries of Gender and Equality rather than the Ministries of Education.
Although we haven’t asked for formal approval, we work with local authorities and keep them informed of our progress. They contact registered nursery school teachers to invite them to attend our courses, then we send SMS messages to the groups.
Most authorities seem to see our programme as superior to the state-run, one-off courses that they otherwise provide to a limited number of teachers.
Through Perivoli’s registration of both teacher attendance at the training Modules and the names and details of the children that attend the schools, a large database is being assembled.
The development of the children can be measured as they progress from nursery school through state funded primary and secondary education.
The data will be used to assess whether the Perivoli programme appears to have contributed to a reduction in drop-out rates and possibly in the future, with the support of the Ministries of Education, a pupil’s subsequent attainment at key exam stages.
As parents don’t fully understand why play is vital for childhood development we provide the nursery school teachers with six simple Parent Modules to use with the parents of the children in their classroom, two for each term.
The Perivoli Trainers show the teacher how to use the Modules with the parents but will not attend the parent sessions.
A parent that completes the six sessions is awarded with a Perivoli Parent Certificate. To date approximately 2300 parents have completed the course.
As the programme develops we plan to engage more closely with parents.
We strive for long-term change in education, and so we have set up a programme to monitor how long the children we reach stay in primary and secondary education. We hope to see drop-out rates decline significantly over the next several years.
For now there is considerable interest from nursery school teachers in rural communities. Judging from their enthusiasm, the long distance they seem to be willing to travel to attend our training sessions and the way their classrooms have evolved, the Perivoli programme appears to be making a difference.
The Perivoli Schools Trust is funded by the Perivoli Trust. In the future, we hope to receive additional funding from Perivoli Innovations which is a fund established in July 2016 to invest in early stage life science, medical, digital and other new technologies. The Perivoli Schools Trust has been designated as the principal beneficiary of Perivoli Innovations.