Supporter for Primary Schools

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founded in 2006
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Coordinator | sallie
Coordinator | sallie
This program supports 10 township schools in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. Volunteers work alongside hard-pressed local teachers to develop teaching skills and methods. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

About the program

This program involves far more than teaching! There are 10 primary schools currently involved in this project which provide education for children from the age of 4 to 14 in the townships of Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay). The aim of the program is to help these schools deal with the many challenges of living in the townships in post-apartheid South Africa and of a rapidly evolving education system.

Possible Tasks for Volunteers

The principals of these schools have given details of the kind of volunteer support they would most value. They would like:

  • people to teach basic English literacy - for nearly all the children school is their first exposure to English, and is at least their second language
  • help with resource use and management - quality educational materials are seldom available and even if they are schools struggle to organise and account for them
  • support with lesson planning and teaching methodologies - these are fundamental elements of modern education in which many teachers have received no training
  • information technology - while some schools have computers, computer literacy among teachers cannot be assumed
  • sports, arts and crafts practitioners are needed to help build children's confidence and enhance their life skills
  • the nutritional needs of students can be addressed by programs to help establish food gardens
  • principals are burdened with rampant bureaucracy - they have little training and even less support in appropriate administration

Why this is important

Though many township teachers are qualified and professional, the education system is in a state of transition. At the end of apartheid, South Africa had 17 different education systems, with different levels for different ‘races’, different training institutions and different expectations for different teachers. It was an education system designed to maintain social divisiveness, prevent critical thinking, and was based on rote learning and minimal participation. 

Then in 1994 it all changed to an education system premised on democratic human rights and with an emphasis on outcomes-based learning and critical thinking, but still with the same teachers who had to adapt radically.  Since then the education system and curriculum has continued to change, putting new pressures on teachers. The education system is in transition, constant flux, and teachers operate with varying degrees of skill and confidence. This volunteer helps to support these schools as they deal with these constant challenges.  

Coupled with the challenges inherent in this change are the problems of large classes, social deprivation, HIV/AIDs and the resultant breakdown of the family. There is no capacity within the education system for teachers to offer small group teaching or one-to-one attention, and lack of resources make it difficult for teachers to design activity-based lessons. 

However the schools involved in this project have been identified for their innovation and dynamism. Despite the deprivation, they are joyful places to work, where the vast majority of teachers are professional and committed, and the children eager to learn.

Your Role as a Volunteer

Volunteers will work alongside local teachers to help them develop their teaching skills and share good practice. They will be placed in one of the schools and attached to one or two teachers and a group of children. 

Their individual placement outline will detail exactly what they will do and what it is hoped they will achieve - some volunteers work to develop a particular area of the curriculum such as IT; some help to develop teachers' knowledge of different teaching methods such as the use of practicals in Science; some work with teachers and students to develop techniques for improving literacy; and so on. 

Each volunteer's skills and experience will be utilised to support the school in areas they have identified. Volunteers are not expected to bring any special equipment with them - instead they are encouraged to make use of resources available locally.

Typical day

The school day begins at around 8.00 and runs until about 14.00. 

Most schools have sports on Wednesday afternoons and lessons on that day are usually shortened to allow the sports to begin at around 13.00.

Schools do not have cleaners so on a Friday, fortnightly in most schools, lessons are also shortened to enable the children to clean the school from mid-morning onwards.  

The length of lessons and the number of lessons in the day varies according to the school and the age of the children, and this can be quite flexible. All schools have at least one break during the day and some have two.  

Free-time activities

Port Elizabeth is a busy city, with many opportunities for shopping and sight-seeing. 

It is located in a beautiful seafront location, so there are many scenic walks along the shore and opportunities to swim in the sea and enjoy sports on the beach. It is also near to wildlife parks, and our local partners can help volunteers arrange safari trips. 

Some volunteers hire a car and travel a little further afield along the world-famous Garden Route.



In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (fluently)
Criminal Background Check
Education Requirements
at High school level
Required Documents
'Life story' and 'references'
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
We work closely with the local schools' principals, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs as:
- people able to teach basic literacy in English
- lesson planning and teaching methodologies
- IT
- sports, arts and craft practitioners
- nutritionists
- support for school leaders in administration management
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00 - 15:00

What's Included

Services by people and places


  • full board home stay
  • airport transfers
  • full local orientation
  • city tour
  • social event
  • local SIM card
  • daily transport to the project
  • project and placement liaison
  • contribution to project which will be used for the purchase of essential equipment for the school

Airport Pickup at Port Elizabeth International Airport

When you leave the arrivals hall you will be met by our local partner, holding a sign with your name on.  

You will then be driven by car to your accommodation (around 45 minutes) and shown around the area.  


You will have a comfortable single room, staying with a host family in the  safe township of New Brighton. The house has two single rooms for volunteers and an indoor bathroom. The living room and kitchen will be shared with your host family.

 The kitchen is well equipped and the living room is very comfortable with a TV. Breakfasts and evening meals with your hosts are provided, as well as a packed lunch on work days.  Many volunteers describe the home stay as one of the highlights of their volunteering experience, saying they were really made to feel one of the family.

Bedroom (Single)
Food & Beverages

Breakfast and dinner will be eaten with your host family.  We do not ask your hosts to suddenly produce a five course meal – rather they should look at adding to their regular pot.

Traditional cooking is basic and tasty and usually encompasses meat (chicken or beef), vegetables and rice or pap served with chakalaka or sauce. Pap is the South African equivalent to the potato – it is ground maize prepared into a fairly bland, firm staple. It is usually served with chakalaka (a sauce relish of tomato, onion, carrots, peppers and spices). 

Special dietary requests will be accommodated as long as you let your hosts know in advance.

You will take a packed lunch on work days, and volunteers usually prepare this themselves.

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) in Port Elizabeth. We assist you to find cheap flights to South Africa.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for South Africa provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in South Africa you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for South Africa.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

Volunteers can join the program at any time during the school year, although we usually avoid placing volunteers in school during the end of year exam period in November and December and at the start of the school year in January.  During the application process volunteers will be told precise term dates for that year and times to avoid.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
4 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
4 weeks (min. stay)
$ 1,696
5 weeks
$ 1,987
6 weeks
$ 2,277
7 weeks
$ 2,568
8 weeks
$ 2,858
9 weeks
$ 3,149
12 weeks (max. stay)
$ 4,020
Average fees
$ 380 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. people and places will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with people and places during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

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  Africa Southern Africa South Africa  Port Elizabeth, Centrahill

Supporter for Primary Schools

This program supports 10 township schools in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. Volunteers work alongside hard-pressed local teachers to develop teaching skills and methods.


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