Teacher training program making a difference in Africa

The Perivoli Foundation is a UK registered charity that funds a pre-school teacher training program in sub-Saharan Africa called the Perivoli Schools Trust.

The trust has already trained more than 10,000 kindergarten teachers over the past seven years in Namibia, Malawi and Zambia. Currently launched in Uganda and Botswana, the trust will target 200,000 additional teachers in nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa over the coming decades. It has already reached around 250,000 preschoolers in the two to seven age bracket, with 5 million being the target.

Free educational activities

“I describe him as Blue Peter on steroids,” said James Alexandroff, Founder and Trustee of the Perivoli Foundation. “We employ trainers to show preschool teachers how to create games and educational activities from recyclable waste. They tend to have no money or training, which helps them create free gambling activities.

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“It has to be affordable,” added Alexandroff. “There’s no point in providing Lego and things like that tend to go out the door. Our approach costs around $ 3 per child per year.

Teachers learn to use objects such as yogurt cartons, bottle caps, toilet paper rolls, pieces of cardboard, discarded clothes and tin cans to create stimulating activities ranging from a toy store to matching puzzles, counting games and dress up corners.

“The main objective of the Perivoli Schools Trust program is to tackle the very high dropout rates children face once they reach state-funded primary school,” Alexandroff added. “Children who are not stimulated by play in their early years find it very difficult to cope with formal education when they reach primary school. “

“It’s especially difficult for girls, who tend to get pregnant once they hit puberty at 13 or 14 if they’re having trouble in school. Studies show that a girl who can read has an average of two children, while a girl who cannot read has five. Our goal is to get girls to read before they leave preschool, ”said Alexandroff.

Training program to nurture the future of young children in Africa

The trust employs Perivoli trainers, nearly 200 starting next year, who deliver 16 training modules to up to 25 kindergarten teachers at a time over a two-year period.

The training program organizes support groups, where teachers exchange ideas for games to create. They also visit them in their classrooms once a month in the first year and once every two months in the second year to help with the implementation of the program. The idea is that each class ends with twelve fun activities called Perivoli Corners that children can indulge in as they please.

At the end of the course, kindergarten teachers receive Perivoli certificates at a graduation ceremony where they dress in togas and mortar boards, which is often the first formal recognition in their lives. .

“There is also an important digital backbone to the program,” explained Alexandroff. “Each Perivoli The trainer is provided with a tablet and is required to collect data, only after obtaining the necessary written consents, on teachers, nursery schools, children and the pace of implementation of the 12 Perivoli Corners.

Alexandroff explained that this process allows coordinators of trainers to orient trainers and teachers who need help the most and to measure their performance. With each tablet equipped with a geolocation sensor, the trainers can check that the visits are taking place.

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Education as a means of raising the standard of living in sub-Saharan Africa

“The program only employs local people who seem to really buy into it, just like the kindergarten teachers. I made more than a hundred visits to nursery schools in the region, ”added Alexandroff. “And from what I see, I have no doubt that the program is making a huge difference in the lives of teachers and children. It’s very uplifting to see how it unleashes their creativity. But we need to validate that, so we are undertaking an exercise to follow some of the children in primary schools to measure the results. “

“It’s a race against time. We have to hope that with better education, the people of the region will be able to make smarter life choices, to choose better leaders in their communities and, most importantly, to attract more investment in activities to higher added value to increase productivity which is, after all, the engine of the standard of living and, up to a certain level of income, of happiness ”, Alexandroff concluded.

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