On the 29th of October 2015, PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) who develop and launch secondary schools that contribute to long-term societal change, poverty reduction and the empowerment of young people in Uganda and Zambia, held their annual fundraising auction and quiz ‘An Education’ which took place in London’s Inner Temple Hall. The hall was packed with 170 supporters and celebrities ranging from British television producer John Lloyd to Countdown host Nick Hewer.

The COINS Foundation team consisted of PEAS’ Global Head of Education Laura Brown, Guardian journalist Tim Dowling, COINS Foundation Director Abigail Deffee, COINS Foundation Trustee Colville Wood, Mike James and Robert Brown from COINS Global, COINS Foundation Social Media Officer Giannina Rodriguez Rico and Symprove’s Ann and Barry Smith.

The night started with a game of Higher or Lower, which instantly raised £3,000 towards the night’s target of £50,000. Statements such as “The Tyrannosaurus Rex had 52 teeth” were made in order for participants to guess if it they were true or false. The prize was a Eurostar voucher, which went to Symprove’s Ann Smith. The evening then continued with a silent auction, live auction and general knowledge quiz, in which the COINS Foundation team came a respectable third place.

The quiz launched PEAS’ Road to School campaign, which aims to build more schools across a continent where two out of three children finish school at the age of 11, due to both a lack of schools which provide a secondary education, and the expenses related to continuing their education. The fundraising quiz and auction raised over £60,000 which will build new secondary schools in Uganda and Zambia. PEAS have already built 26 schools, and educated over 17,000 children in the last eight years. Through expanding its school network, PEAS will aim to make a difference in the lives of up to half a million African children by 2020, as its mission is to provide every child in Africa with the opportunity to have a quality secondary education.

The PEAS patron and quiz master of the night, Jeremy Paxman, told the audience

I’ve been lucky enough to visit PEAS schools in Uganda and seen first-hand the impact they’re having, not only with students, but with families and entire communities. PEAS is a trailblazing NGO and social enterprise hybrid with the vision of a world where all children, no matter their background or circumstance, can enjoy an education that unlocks their full potential. It’s a real privilege to be part of this ambitious organisation and raise funds tonight that will help PEAS continue to deliver high quality education to many more young people.

Jeremy Paxman

Two students delivered a heartwarming speech on how they have directly benefitted from attending a PEAS school in Uganda. John Mary, a former student at PEAS’ Onwards and Upwards school, told the remarkable story of how he was able to transform his life through education, as well as highlighting his motivation to give back to the place which gave him an opportunity to thrive, by returning to PEAS and helping to mould young hearts and minds through teaching.

My father died and my mum couldn’t manage to pay for schooling for me and my six brothers and sisters . But I had the good fortune to have a very dedicated primary head teacher and mum. They got me through the early stages of secondary school and I got my O levels but there was no school nearby to do A-levels, and the fees were too high. PEAS came to my rescue. PEAS schools are not like other schools in Uganda. The teachers are good and dedicated, and with their unlimited advice and support, and my own hard work, I excelled. I achieved As in all my A levels. My teacher recommended me for the PEAS bursary scheme and only through that could I go to university. I am proud and thankful that I graduated. I am now a qualified teacher at the PEAS school where my story began. There are many thousands of children like me in Uganda and Zambia who will not be able to go to a secondary school. These children need PEAS, just like Andrew and I needed PEAS.

John Mary, a former student at PEAS' Onwards and Upwards School