About RATA

The Ark

“Your people allowed us to be ourselves; although you knew we were not qualified, you treated us like professional teachers.”

-Mia Carla, teacher Grade 4, The Ark, Cape Town, South Africa


In 2005 we learned about The Ark, a shelter in Cape Town, South Africa that provides lodging, education and employment skills for homeless persons and families, recovering addicts and other destitute individuals. Children in the shelter are taught by adults who are also residents of the Ark, who have no formal teacher training.


RATA is about bringing the spirit and training of NZ teachers to schools around the globe, allowing untrained teachers in impoverished areas to be trained and encouraged.  With a focus on learner-centred pedagogy and the basic skills of teaching numeracy & literacy, along with demonstrating “how” to read to children and how to creative a positive learning environment by example RATA is empowering local teachers to improve  their schools. The RATA trained schools have dramatically increased their pass and retention rates. This can in part be attributed to the skilled training and resources provided by RATA, but also to the dedication and commitment to change of the teachers and administrators within these schools.

  • 2005 – 2014: Capetown, South Africa – The Ark
  • 2008 – 2014; Ashaiman, Accra, Ghana – 3 schools, 450 students
  • 2009 – present: Northern India – 6 schools in foothills of Himalaya
  • 2011- 2015: Tanzania – Joshua Foundation School in Magugu and in Arusha

Board of Trustees

RATA’s Patron

Helen Bichan


Helen Bichan has been involved in many areas of support to New Zealanders mostly through the health sector. She was medical superintendent of Porirua Hospital and chief medical officer of the Wellington Area Health Board. In 1990 she was appointed to the Commonwealth Secretariat as Assistant Director of their Health Division. Currently she serves on the Inter-church Bioethics Council and the standing committee of the Uniting Churches of Aotearoa New Zealand. She is a life member of the Public Health Association. She is the mother of five and grandmother of nine.

Phil McCreery

Phil was educated at Victoria University and Christchurch College of Education. He began teaching at Tararua College and was promoted to Head of Department at Nelson College for Girls. In 1995 he was appointed as Deputy Principal of Waihi College before returning to Tararua College where he was Principal for 8 years. He is currently principal at Cambridge High School in the Waikato. He is married with three children.

Steve Horne

Steve is a teacher at Hamilton Boys’ High School. He has experience in a variety of leadership positions in the Tertiary, Secondary and Primary sectors. Steve enjoys organising community service activities and leads a mentoring programme at his current school. Steve loves telling stories that inspire people. (His stories are often funny too!) He is married to Val and has three daughters and five grandchildren. Steve has worked with RATA on visits to South Africa , Ghana and India. He is a keen kayaker and swimmer and to a lesser degree a walker and cyclist. Steve believes that “caring is doing and going back to help people that help themselves” has the potential to change communities and local regions.

Glenys Bichan

Glenys had the vision for RATA in 2005 and has spent the last 12 years making it a reality. Her efforts as the creator and developer of RATA have given it the solid foundation on which it now grows. Glenys recently handed over the administration of RATA and has agreed to stay on the Trust Board to keep sharing the valuable knowledge that she has acquired over the years. Glenys is the Librarian at Cambridge High School, a member of the Board of the  School Library Association of New Zealand, and family historian (among her many talents). Glenys and her husband Peter live in Cambridge and have three adult children.

Anney Collin

Anney has had 30 years of teaching experience as primary school teacher and principal. Anney and Glenys were on the first RATA trip together and Anney has participated in each of the RATA projects a number of times since the work began. In an attempt to further understand RATA’s place in education Anney has embarked on a Master of Global Education at the University of Waikato. She is now is the Administrator of RATA.  Anney and her husband Garry have four adult children and three grandchildren to brighten their lives.

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