Highlights from the past 10 years

Published, 06/02/2024

As founder and Director, it has been a great source of pleasure and pride to reflect back on some key developments over the past 10 years. What began as a small seed of an idea in 2011 has grown beyond what I and those working with me at the time would have expected. PZ has gone through several iterations since then but what has remained consistent is the quality of friendships across continents and the mutual desire to engage in more interesting and fruitful ways.

Since the first group of 10 UWE student teachers embarked on the first ever volunteering visit in 2011, an awful lot has been achieved. The partnership of PZ schools has grown from 5 to 12 and from one location to three. In total 265 UWE students from a wide range of disciplines have collaborated with our partners in South Africa and many others have supported PZ in a variety of ways here in the UK.  In addition to student volunteers, UWE staff have contributed their various talents and expertise, working with student volunteers, teachers, school leaders and district officials on infrastructure, professional development, knowledge exchange and mutual learning projects. In total, approximately 1000 teachers and other professional have attended PZ workshops and conferences. The fruits of these collaborations have been demonstrated in the classrooms, across multiple research projects and several published research papers.

After the first PZ UK choir tour in 2013 I had no idea if there would ever be another. What eventually became a biennial event and a centrepiece of PZ seemed like a one-off at the time. Ten years on however, there have been five choir tours which have raised over £100,000, every penny of which has been spent on developing educational capacity in our partner school through resource and infrastructure projects. Some examples include:

5 new classrooms

1 new library

53 solar panels

1 sports facility

1 netball court

These developments are the fruit of a lot of hard work from a lot of individuals, but not least the talent and sheer stamina of the 116 pupils who have formed those five choirs. Their voices, dancing skills and commitment have left a legacy which generations will benefit from. I’m very excited for the 2025 tour and all the joy and opportunities this will bring.

I also wish to pay tribute to the commitment of the PZ school Principals with whom we work every year and who have become more than just associates or colleagues. Along with the many teachers, host families and coaches they are our friends. The UK team here at UWE, Bristol is also exceptional, which is good because international partnership is a two-way street and keeping international partnerships going for this long requires give and take, mutual trust, sometimes patience, and a commitment to honesty and openness.

PZ seems to positively impact everyone who comes into contact with it, and I can say without hesitation that PZ has taught me a great deal, about a great many things, and I’m grateful for that. I look forward eagerly to see what surprising things the next ten years will bring.

Written by Ben Knight

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