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’s school were taught by adults who were also residents of the Ark and who had no formal teacher training. We decided to use our skills in education to see if we could support those teachers to gain the skills they needed to be successful teachers. In 2006 a New Zealand teacher, and an Australian teacher booked some units in a camping ground and took 7 untrained teachers for a week’s professional development. It was a challenging week for all involved but provided the foundation of relationship and trust which was built upon in professional development workshops over the next 5 years.

This small beginning has led to Rata Teachers’ Support working in four countries and with over 150 indigenous teachers. New Zealand, Australian, American and German colleagues have helped with this work and to date more than 100 people have volunteered to work with RATA in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and India. And the school in Cape Town? It now has a staff consisting of 100% trained teachers and is thriving and successful, recognized as a part of the government network of schools.


RATA is about bringing the spirit and training of NZ teachers to schools around the globe,enabling both trained and untrained teachers in challenging settings to develop their teaching skills.  With a focus on learner-centred education and the basic skills of teaching numeracy & literacy, along with modelling how to creative a positive learning environment by example, RATA is empowering local teachers and their leaders to improve  their schools. The schools RATA has partnered with 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 the Himalaya
  • 2011- 2015: Tanzania – Joshua Foundation Schools 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.

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!) 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.


Dr John Lockley

John is Associate Pastor at Hamilton Central Baptist Church. Prior to this he was a lecturer in Education at the University of Waikato. He brings to the trust a breadth of knowledge about global education and  a strong understanding of the transformative power of education to change lives.

Anney Collin

Anney has had 30 years of teaching experience as primary school teacher and principal. Anney was one of the first RATA teachers to work  in Cape Town and has participated in each of the RATA projects multiple 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 the voluntary Director of RATA and is responsible for the overseeing of RATA activities globally.

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