Teacher training

Low-Cost, High-Impact Teacher Training

The world needs almost 7 million new trained teachers by 2015. And that’s just to address the needs of children in primary schools. It’s equally important, however, that these teachers be of an adequate standard.

Unfortunately, current solutions for teacher training are unlikely to produce either the quantity or quality that children in the developing world deserve. In many countries, teachers are required to have only slightly more education that their students. In fact, in sub-Saharan countries like Congo, Tanzania and Mozambique, fewer than 60% of primary school teachers have any professional qualification at all.

On a recent trip to Uganda, the Varkey Foundation specialist team found that facilities for teachers fell far below an acceptable standard. English literacy is poor, there are no personal development plans and no peer-to-peer or interschool support.

What’s more, teaching methods are severely constrained by poor teaching environments: blackboards with chalk are virtually the only learning resources available.

But traditional higher or secondary education is not sufficient by itself. The Varkey Foundation believes that the biggest factor in the quality of teaching is the quality of specific, vocational teacher training.

Ultimately, such training can raise the overall standard of classroom pedagogy, helping more teachers to have a significant positive impact on the lives of their students.

Our Solution

The Varkey Foundation has designed a low-cost teacher training programme that will address the issue of teacher quality in developing countries.

The 5-day face-to-face course, aimed at school principals and senior management team members, will focus on the skills required to improve pedagogy within the school and will include an embedded “train-the-trainer” course so that principals can cascade their learning and deliver the content to teachers at their schools.

Once the training is completed, Varkey Foundation trainers will travel to each school to provide coaching and support to the principal in embedding the programme, thus improving practices within the school and providing quality assurance.

Our progress

The programme commenced in Kampala, Uganda on 22nd May 2013. A number of local teachers attended our five-day residential course, and each will now cascade their learning to a further ten teachers.

To this date, 7290 teachers have been trained.

How can you help?

Our aim is to train 250,000 teachers over the next 10 years, but we cannot do it alone. We need your help to bring our low cost teacher training programme to more communities in need.

Our low-cost, big impact approach means that for every teacher whose training you fund, we will reach ten teachers through our cascade strategy - so if you invest in training 10,000 teachers, that training will reach 100,000 teachers!

In addition, your employees can get involved and make a difference, through our volunteering programme and fundraising / advocacy campaigns:

  • Employees who wish to volunteer will be matched with tasks that fit their skill set
  • We encourage employees to support our work by getting involved in fundraising events and advocacy campaigns

Our dedicated team would be delighted to work with you on a tailored programme of activity which supports your business objectives, aligns with the core values of your company and helps to change lives through education.


Instructional Teacher Training Programme in Uganda

Africa needs more teachers. In 2015, 1 million qualified teachers are needed to educate the continent's young people. In Uganda, this teacher deficit is stark. When primary education became free in 1997, schools were flooded with pupils, with just one teacher to ever 150 eager students.

The country and the continent don't just need more teachers. They need better teachers, equipped to offer a world-class education in over-capacity classrooms, with overstretched resources.

Our Solution

That's why we've pledged to coach 250,000 teachers over the next 10 years, all in developing countries. The Ugandan Low Cost Teacher Training Initiative is one of the Varkey Foundation's flagship projects, developed with the Clinton Global Initiative, the Tony Blair Foundation and UNESCO.

We have created a low cost, high impact programme to improve education across sub-Saharan Africa.  Although the scope of our mission is vast, our approach to this global education project can be tailored to meet unique local needs in smaller regions and specific districts.

Our Goals

We want to train outstanding educators in sub-Saharan Africa. Teachers with more knowledge, enhanced skills and greater understanding of how learning works. Teachers who are ready to spread their good practice, inspiring other teachers and improving education across the region.

Our teacher training organisation is working to ensure that the impact of our global education project is long term and widespread. We are helping to set up continuous professional development (CPD) networks in schools and school systems. These networks make sure that more teachers are able to develop their skills and share what they've learned with others, using carefully designed learning strategies.

Our teacher training organisation works hard to:

  1. Improve teaching practice by encouraging more interactive, student-led teaching and learning;
  2. Develop Professional Learning Networks that are self-sustaining;
  3. Create better environments for learning through teaching best practice;
  4. Support school improvement with close monitoring and tailored assistance;
  5. Support UNESCO’s Education For All (EFA) and UN 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

How it Works

We run 5-day face to face courses, aimed at school principals and senior management team members. These courses  focus on the skills local educational leaders need to improve teaching within their school. Each course includes an essential “train the trainer” module developed to help school leaders pass on their  knowledge, spreading the word and training up other educators within their school networks.

This system is designed to create engaged, well-trained and knowledgable teachers across sub-Saharan Africa who are passionate about continually improving education and learning. Here's an outline of our approach to teacher training:

  • Phase 1: We run 5 day face to face courses for school leaders and government education officials, including district education officers and centre coordinating tutors.
  • Phase 2: Varkey Foundation trainers continue to offer remote support and undertake follow up visits to help school leaders train educators at their schools. This phase can include running Saturday workshops to encourage professional development.
  • Phase 3: Varkey Foundation trained teachers spread their knowledge, reaching all districts and school communities in the region. This helps to gradually raise the standard of schools in each district, positively impacting whole communities.
  • Phase 4: A 12 month programme teaches teaching college tutors the latest teaching methodology, developing their knowledge and the quality of teaching practice. Teaching college tutors then pass this new methodology on to aspiring teachers before they begin their professional life.
  • Phase 5: We continually measure and evaluate our global education project and its results, using insights from both internal and external bodies to show us exactly where we are – and where we need to go next.

Our Impact

The Varkey Foundation's global teacher training charity still has much to do, but we're really excited by the great results we've already seen. Between May 2013 and November 2014 we're proud to have:

  • Run 729 five day intensive programmes
  • Held 505 Saturday professional development workshops
  • Directly trained 1,234 school leadership
  • Indirectly trained 12,340 teachers
  • Benefited 617,000 children


Amuru is a district still recovering from war and VFs intervention has rekindled our teachers hearts. The intervention has improved the quality of our teachers and we are seeing real impact in our schools. We are now sure that our children are learning, they are enjoying class more and student/teacher attendance has improved. The VF intervention has ensured that there is impact in the most important place- the classroom.’

Lanyero Joyce -  Senior Education Officer, Amuru District

‘We have attended many workshops, usually, when we go back to the rooms, we discuss issues of transport refund, what we left at home….., but at this workshop, when we go back to our rooms, we discuss what we have learned during the day and how we can take this back into our schools . This workshop is truly different from any we have ever attended’

Otim Bismarck – Teacher Nwoya District

Providing vocational teacher training to improve children’s quality of learning.

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