Today Newport, next summer Uganda

Teachers who spend a summer in remote African schools return inspired and invigorated. Bob Doe reports

More than 60 British teachers will get a chance to spend next summer in Africa helping to improve education for some of the world's poorest children.

Applications are now open for the Global Teacher Millennium Awards scheme which pays travel and accommodation costs so that UK teachers can spend five weeks living and working alongside teachers in South Africa or Uganda.

And with "global awareness" now a national curriculum requirement, the volunteers will also get a pound;500 grant when they return so they can share with their own communities what they learned about developing countries.

In the past two years more than 100 teachers have been placed in school improvement projects run by London-based charity Link Community Development.

Many find the experience refreshes their enthusiasm for the profession. Several have changed jobs or been promoted.

Arwa Said, who spent five weeks at Ntooma primary in Masindi district, Uganda, normally teaches at Langstone primary in Newport, Gwent. "After seven years in the job I was beginning to ask myself if this is what I want to do for the next 30 years. Now I know it is. The children are what the job is about. I have learnt not to be so worried about whether resources are provided or not. It reminded me how on my teaching practice I made my own."

Kate Caldwell, head of Witchampton first school in Dorset, said working with teachers at Bigando primary in the Masindi district this summer was "a joy".

Many global teachers find their views on the developing world challenged. Ioan Dyer from Caerphilly taught pupils of Nyantonzi primary school in Uganda, how to play rugby and to speak Welsh. "I had the image of people sitting about and starving. Now I am here I can not get over how hard they work and the amount they grow. Everything I eat is grown here: bananas, maize, cassava, coffee, sugar, jackfruit, pineapple, millet."

Many teachers in rural Africa have little or no training. There is much chalk and talk with little pupil involvement. Global teachers provide vital role models and practical workshops.

Sarah May, a science teacher at John Kitto community college in Plymouth, spent the summer at Tandanini high school in South Africa's Eastern Cape. She said: "It is a real privilege to live with a family." She was astounded by the welcome she received and said that the whole community made her feel at home.

Link also supports twinning projects between UK and African schools and encourages every UK primary and secondary to link with an African school.

For details of the Global Teacher scheme ring Link Community Development on 020 7681 8763, send a fax 020 7209 4167, email: or see the website:

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