Ten years ago John Rendel began working full time setting up PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) – the aim was to create a sustainable and self-sufficient network of schools, which can thrive with government support. The charity now has a network of 28 schools in Uganda and 2 in Zambia.
It became apparent that the majority of children attended primary school but once they’d completed this the number that continued on to secondary education dropped significantly. Various factors contributed to this, including: a lack of access, the cost of attending and, for females, hitting puberty introduced a new set of difficulties to overcome. PEAS work with partners and grants to build the schools and part subsidise some of the fees as long as once complete, the school can continue to run independently. Government grants help to support lunch fees or boarding expenses for students, leading to reduced fees and as a result, more affordable education. Extensive research takes place to ensure that new schools are suitably positioned in the areas that need them most and will have the biggest impact.
A long-term partner, the first school to be supported by COINS Foundation was Kiira View Secondary School, which opened in February 2009 in Butagaya, a rural area of Jinja District near the banks of the River Nile, in Eastern Uganda. The school opened with 221 pupils and by the end of 2015 the school had 450 students, of which 52% were female. We strongly believe in the benefits of social enterprise in tackling social injustice, where charities and individuals are able to influence their own future, allowing more long-term success. The benefits of the installation of solar panels had this in mind, where it improved the facilities for students but also enabled excess power to be sold to the surrounding areas, therefore, creating an opportunity for further income.
Through social enterprise charities can generate their own revenue with the potential to grow just as any other business could. This means that rather than having a one off donation that will eventually run out, there is a constant flow of income that enables them to make a real difference.
PEAS students tend to come from poorer backgrounds than government or private schools in Uganda. Even though many of the schools are in hard to reach rural areas, their students are achieving exam results that are above the national average. Three PEAS schools have recently been recognised by the Ministry of Education in Uganda as being amongst the top performing secondary schools in the country. Their ambition is now to lead a charter school movement by helping African governments to create enabling education ecosystems that get millions more kids through quality secondary schools.
In this inspiring social entrepreneurs podcast with the Founder and CEO of PEAS, John Rendel discusses the challenges that individuals face in attending secondary education and the business model behind PEAS that has made it the success it has become.