“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
HOW IT BEGAN
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.
WHO WE ARE: GLOBAL EDUCATORS
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
ONZM, MBChB, FRANZCP, FNZCPHM
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 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 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 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 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.
The Rata tree is native to New Zealand with flamboyant red flowers. The Rata tree starts life as a seed that is implanted into the forks of a large tree by passing birds. It attaches itself and starts to grow as a vine down the trunk of the host tree. The vine sucks its life from the tree until it hits the ground and starts to put down its own roots. When it is strong enough it then feeds itself, not needing the host tree any more.
It is our hope and our God-given calling to use our talents, training as teachers and resources to support our untrained colleagues who are teaching the children of the world. If we do this, they will give these children an education that will lead them from a life of poverty to a life of hope and contribution. Like the Rata tree, we hope that untrained teachers worldwide will use us, glean from us and take strength from us until they are sufficiently equipped to take root and teach with confidence and excellence themselves.
- commit to caring for all those people it engages with, as people matter most.
- be transparent in its activities and act with integrity that is open to be tested.
- never be a financial burden on a host school.
- be flexible, adaptable and realistic.
- only use qualified teachers for instruction.
- only go to schools where the teachers are predominately untrained.
- not-for-profit organisation based on Christian principles.
- commit to a minimum of 5 years at a host school.
- run trips that are organised and managed by a person not involved in facilitating professional development, to allow teachers to fully focus on teaching the teachers to teach.
- recognise the sacrifice of teachers to attend RATA retreats and will ensure that where possible, time will be given on trips for personal travel and experiences.