Established in 2006, the Maitri Trust believes that high-quality education for every child is the keystone to eradicating poverty and creating fairer and more socially responsible societies. By funding partners in India and South Africa, they are working to overcome the complex challenges faced within primary school systems. By improving education at this key early stage, the Trust aims to set children up for better lifelong outcomes.
We spoke with Luke Aspinall, Chief Executive Officer of the Maitri Trust, to find out more about their work supporting the transformation of education systems in South Africa and India. Luke is passionate about partnerships and believes the Trust has the greatest impact when its partners are supported to work effectively and efficiently within a collaborative ecosystem.
“The earlier you intervene, the better. If you get in early, you’ve got a better chance of setting children on a different life trajectory.”Luke Aspinall
Spotlight on: South Africa
Since 2016, The Maitri Trust has been involved with a project in the Western and Eastern Cape provinces in South Africa called Public School Partnerships. This is a public-private partnership between government, civil society and the school community. The government identifies schools that operate in challenging socio-economic environments and partners them, individually or in clusters, with a not-for-profit operating partner. Although the school remains a government school,
the partner shares accountability for the management of that school to transform the quality of education it provides. Operating partners support the school with its operations and finances while also providing coaching and training to the school’s leadership team and its teachers.
“The problem is not attendance. It’s the quality of the learning that goes on in those schools once the kids get into them. And that’s where the real crisis is happening.”Luke Aspinall
Through this process, the partner aims to turn the school around, with improvements in the quality of education leading to improved learning outcomes for pupils. According to Luke, the project has now supported 19 schools with approximately 300 educators and 10,000 pupils. While the project is currently being piloted, a Western Cape Government has set up a unit to oversee how this model can best be scaled across the province and potentially beyond.
“The primary schools involved with this project are recovering quicker in their learning losses due to Covid-19 than comparable schools within the system.”Luke Aspinall
Taking the lead in the Western Cape
Luke shared a story about the impact the Public School Partnerships project has had on Boundary Primary in the Western Cape. The role of a school principal is tricky in South Africa, with a lack of resources often meaning that they spend most of their day pulled between teaching, administration, or providing compliance with government rules and regulations. This often leaves them with relatively little time to actually lead the school’s educational delivery or to support and coach its teachers. Boundary Primary therefore teamed up with an operating partner called Common Good that helped the principal transform their role. As part of this, an extra teaching post was funded to free up some of the principal’s time. Common Good also supports them with the administrative and financial side of operating the school and leadership coaching. Over a nine-month period, gradual changes have meant the principal is now focused on coaching staff and providing overall leadership to the school. According to Luke, they are now much more on top of their workload, which has improved results across the board for the school.