Connecting UK Learners with peers in Africa

We pride ourselves on being fully flexible, and able to collaborate with any organisation to bring our Teach2030 programme and improved digital skills to their community. Through our pillar ‘Elevate Voices’, we strive to provide a platform for teachers and their learners to ensure that their voices are heard and recognised as the agents of change in the education systems in their location. To do this, we build partnerships. 

One of the Commonwealth Education’s Trust recent partnerships is with Radley College in the UK, where we were delighted to be able to connect students from Radley with students in schools in Kenya, Zambia, and Cameroon. The aim of the partnership was to dispel the myth of ‘them and us’, and to recognise the ‘shared humanity’ and connections with pupils and teachers working in lower-income settings. In addition, the partnership mission was to ensure Radley boys understood the structural sources of global inequality, and to know and explain their shared responsibility in working towards an improved future for all. 

Our Education Lead, Eleanor Sykes, worked closely with Mark Jewell, the Head of Community Partnerships, to build the programme, and decided to initially establish regular Zoom calls between their Shell pupils (age 13-14) with pupils from Kilembwa School, Machakos County, Kenya. This was facilitated by another fantastic CET partner, Kenya Connect, who work to empower and engage students and teachers in rural Kenya. After virtual meetings between CET, Radley, Kenya Connect and the Kilembwa head teacher, it was agreed that the Zoom calls would take place on Mondays. The Kenya Connect team would take their box of Chromebooks to Kilembwa to enable the students to dial in and support them with the necessary technical skills. 

Mark Jewell led on building the plans for each session, ensuring there was a wide and balanced range of topics covering subjects light and serious, to build connections between the students, and enable them to know and understand more about each others’ lives. CET led a virtual workshop for the Radley boys to ensure cultural sensitivity, speaking clearly and without slang, to facilitate a smooth discussion. Inevitably, there were teething problems as students in both locations got to grips with both the Zoom calls and talking to someone they had never met before in a totally different location for the first time! However, these were soon ironed out, and the Kenyan and British children were both learning information about each other, such as their favourite type of music, what they think of football – and what they think is the biggest global challenge today.  

One of the most revealing discussions for the Radley boys was when both sets of students talked through their average day: most Kilembwa pupils rise between 4-5am and have a long list of chores to do before they go to school – and many of them walk over an hour to get there. This is exactly the kind of knowledge we wished the more fortunate UK-based students to gain, that life is hard for millions globally, yet their interests, passions and dreams are all similar.  

At the end of the UK academic year, both Kilembwa and Radley students planned and delivered a presentation covering what they had learned during their regular meetings. There was a focus on the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education For All, and it is interesting to see the different perspectives from both sets of students.  

Please now watch two presentations from students from each school. 

The partnership has continued to reach two further schools in Douala, Cameroon and Livingstone, Zambia. We have been thrilled at the dedication of our partner schools and organisations to enable this partnership of the youth of today to take place and are looking forward to seeing what the next academic year will bring.  

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