Teach First-style schemes to spread across Africa

16th November 2014 at 06:01


Teach First-style schemes, designed to attract high-flying graduates to the classroom, are set to spread across Africa for the first time, TES can reveal.

Teach For All programmes, modelled on the approach pioneered by Teach First in the UK and Teach for America on the other side of the Atlantic, have already been established across many parts of the world, with 35 countries adopting versions of the scheme.

But although South Africa is currently the only African nation to have signed up, Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp (pictured) told TES that talks with social entrepreneurs were under way, with a view to setting up new programmes in African countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

The best-known programmes in Teach For All – the global movement that supports national networks – are in still those in developed Western nations, but Ms Kopp said there was even more potential for growth in the developing world.

“The message we’ve got from folks all across Africa is that, as relevant as this model may be in a very developed context, it’s even more relevant to the needs that exist in the developing context, where it’s true that there are many basic needs not being met,” she said.

“There’s a role these programmes can play all over the world, in underdeveloped countries just as in developed countries. We’re sending top talent, our most precious resource, into everywhere but expanding educational opportunity. These programmes have the potential to change that. And that will make a huge, long-term difference in the capacity these systems have to actually affect and implement the systemic changes that we need to see.”

The Teach For All schemes, in which graduates embark on a two-year, school-based training programme before deciding whether to stay in the classroom, have already proved popular in other developing nations.

Teach for India, for instance, received 13,000 applications this year, to the surprise of Ms Kopp.

“I would never have envisioned this,” she said. “We’re seeing them stay as well. Between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of [the teachers] stay in education beyond the first two years, right across the network.

“I don’t know if people would have predicted Teach First would be as successful as it has been in attracting incredible talent and we’re seeing a similar thing all around the world. At the outset of every one of these programmes, people question whether their countries will actually [respond]. We’ve seen an incredible response across the world.”

Related stories:

Teach First trebles its presence in early years sector – April 2014

The unstoppable rise of Teach For All – January 2014


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