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The Varkey Foundation has been a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) sponsor since 2010, partnering on several Commitments to Action that focus on improving the standard of education for underprivileged children. In July, Gordon Carver, project director for the Varkey Foundation in Africa, participated in a session focused on equipping teachers for success in sub-Saharan Africa, held during the CGI Week of Action. Here he shares a behind the scenes look at the Varkey Foundation’s current commitment to address the shortage of trained teachers in sub-Saharan Africa—a key factor that Carver believes will either fuel or stall economic progress across the continent.

During the last decade, Africa has been among the world’s fastest-growing continents


UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report shows that while school attendance in sub-Saharan Africa has increased, 175 million children remain illiterate.


As we address these current education challenges, improving teacher training quality and raising respect for the profession of teaching is a focus of the Varkey Foundation.


To shine a spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over the world, we also founded the Global Teacher Prize.

Among a group of peers at CGI’s recent Week of Action, I had the opportunity to discuss how best to equip teachers in sub-Saharan Africa for success. Around small tables, we exchanged ideas and strategies on challenges including:

  • the kinds of support that can be offered to teachers, especially women, experiencing or recovering from the devastating effects of conflicts and emergencies
  • the lack of resources associated with working in conflict settings
  • the creation of programs that are relevant, culturally and linguistically appropriate, and adequately prepare teachers for the classroom
  • how technology will play a role in preventing teacher absenteeism given that currently, many teachers in sub-Saharan Africa may have to travel significant distances to receive payment

One solution is the Varkey Foundation’s ambitious program to train 250,000 teachers across Africa. So far this program has trained 12,000 teachers over the last two years in Uganda, one of the poorest counties in the world. As part of a recently announced CGI Commitment to Action, our teacher training program will expand across Central and Northern Uganda.


Our training program plan moves away from a focus on memorization and repeated facts. Instead, we train teachers to create a culture of ‘personalised learning’ in the classroom with greater participation and exploration of ideas. Rather than simply relying on ‘chalk and talk’ methods of standing at the front of the classroom, teachers are taught to cater to different learning needs—including those students who learn best through visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic methods.


Check out the agenda for the 2015 Annual Meeting to learn about the sessions that will discuss the role of education in empowering individuals around the world. In addition, a series of interactive Future Labs will explore specific global challenges, including girls’ education. You can be a part of these Future Labs by adding your own perspective to the conversation. 

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