Global School Partners grew out of Jann Carroll's volunteer teacher experience which she undertook at Thulasizwe Primary school in Orlando West, Soweto, South Africa in 2009, on the completion of her Master’s degree in education. Significantly, this school was integrally involved in the Walk for Freedom march of 1976 which resulted in the Soweto riots. It is only a short walk to Nelson Mandela’s home and the museum which stands in his honour. One of the research papers Jann wrote during her Masters was based on the discrimination of girls in achieving lasting educational outcomes in Africa. Based on her experiences in Soweto and critical reflection of opportunities to facilitate better educational outcomes for particularly primary aged students, Jann returned to Australia with a vision to create a not-for-profit organisation that relied not on ‘hand-outs’ but on ‘hand-ups’. Jann and Simon then created Global School Partners as a non-government, not-for-profit charity, recognised by the Australian Tax Office as a Public Benevolent Institution.
We have been operating since 2010 in Africa, commencing in Kenya in 2011. We began with one school in Africa partnered with one school in Canberra. Today we have 21 school partnerships including approximately 7,000 students from Canberra, Western Sydney and Newcastle in Australia with 5,000 students in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
We have a long term commitment to community engagement and sustainability
It is our hope that the model we use, based on the Common Good, Dignity, Subsidiarity, Participation and Preferential Option for the Poor, that creates local employment and support for communities based on their needs, will become a model others will adopt in the bid to assist those most marginalised and in poverty.
Dambisa Moyo, in her book Dead Aid (2009) states:
'In the past 50 years, more than $1 Trillion (US) in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa.… Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse – much worse. Aid has helped make the poor poorer, and growth slower. Yet aid remains a centrepiece of today’s development policy and one to the biggest ideas of our time' (pp. xviii-xix).
The provision of billions of dollars of monetary aid from affluent countries whose desire is to ‘do something to fix the problem’, has resulted in the growing wealth of a few government officials and very little for those who require basic education and health services to achieve what we expect for every Australian child.
As a small organisation we have demonstrated that working collaboratively with community groups and facilitating relationships built on mutual respect, trust and agreed goals we are able to bring renewed hope and opportunity to the disadvantaged communities in which we have Partner schools. Can you imagine the substantial effect this model of partnership would bring if every Australian school partnered with a school in a developing country?