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 adding; creates a sense of community amongst them; and clearly benefits the children.
Our programme began in Namibia in 2012 and expanded to Malawi in 2018 and Zambia in 2019. We launched in Uganda in 2022 and will be launching in Botswana in 2023. We are now eyeing Zimbabwe, Angola and Tanzania in Sub-Saharan Africa and would like to take it to countries in West Africa over time.
The meerkat faces on the map show the Districts or Provinces where we are active in each of the countries that we address.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 programme’s Joint CEOs.
There is a powerful digital backbone to our programme. Each of our Trainers is issued with a tablet computer. They 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.
There are no privacy laws in the countries that we address but we do this all the same.
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, ClimateTech, and digital sectors, each mostly in the UK and in Africa.
Funding is routed through the Perivoli Foundation, a U.K. Charity, which supports this initiative, as well as the Perivoli Climate Trust, which funds research into climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, and the Perivoli Africa Research Centre at the University of Bristol (PARC) and a number of niche, founder-led charities in the education, conservation and poverty amelioration sectors.
The counter below shows how many nursery school teachers we have interacted with since 2012. The counter is updated daily by direct feed from our database. You can see more summary information from the table at the top of the Progress Tab.
The number of children assumes that there are twenty five per nursery school teacher, that five new children join the school each year and that each teacher has been in the programme for an average of three years (these are conservative assumptions) i.e. 40 children per teacher. The ten year target is based on 90 children per teacher on average and assumes that only two thirds of teachers remain teachers.