Pioneering teachers on a high

AT THE PEAK: Nova Pioneer teachers and staff pose at the base camp of Kilimanjaro with their K4TK banner signed by all Nova Pioneer students and staff from both South Africa and Kenya.

AT exactly 7.40am on October 26, nine Nova Pioneer teachers and staff reached the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro to culminate their Kilimanjaro 4 The Kids (K4TK) initiative that raised over R400k for innovative Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Engineering (STEM) programmes and scholarships.

Nova Pioneer was able to raise the funds in just three short months through awareness-building events and a grassroots online fund-raising campaign, 100 per cent of which will go directly to the cause. The two primary initiatives the funds raised will support, are the Innovation Fund and the Scholarships Fund. The Innovation Fund will provide students with opportunities to follow their passions for STEM and Innovation that they otherwise would not be able to participate in, while the Scholarships Fund will provide financial assistance to high-performing students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to attend Nova Pioneer. A particular focus will be on students who show an aptitude and passion for STEM fields.

SUMMIT: Nova Pioneer teachers and staff celebrate at Gilman’s Point, the first peak of Kilimanjaro, after climbing all the way throughout the night.

Over the course of the last three months, in addition to following an intensive training programme, the K4TK team of teachers and staff from both South Africa and Kenya spearheaded a range of concurrent academic activities, which created innovative opportunities for students to learn more about STEM fields, and community-building events, which highlighted the amazing work Nova Pioneer students are doing and the ambitions they have to shape the future of the continent. The events included Student Innovation Talks in Nairobi, with students presenting to a group of parents and industry professionals, and Student Innovation Ideas in Johannesburg, with students pitching a crowd of community members on project ideas to solve challenges they observed on the African continent.

Among the staff members to climb Kilimanjaro was Nova Pioneer’s CEO, Chinezi Chijioke, who expressed gratitude to those who supported the initiative. “It has been a tremendous joy to see the level of support we have received for K4TK from far and wide across South Africa, Kenya, and beyond. We embarked on this journey as a way to symbolise the heights to which we are committed to supporting our students to ascend, and now that our team has reached the highest point on the continent, we are eager to bring those student initiatives to life,” said the CEO.

The journey of climbing Kilimanjaro was a demanding six-day experience for the Nova Pioneer team. They were able to brave heavy rain, chilling cold, and extreme fatigue as they hiked more than seven hours each day. The team continued to stay motivated throughout by supporting each other and considering the struggles of the climb in the context of the hurdles African youth often have to overcome to acquire a quality education.

JOY: Nova Pioneer teachers and staff celebrate at Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa, with their K4TK banner signed by all Nova PIoneer students and staff from both South Africa and Kenya.

“Summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro was a challenging feat for me for many reasons, and the most powerful moment for me was our team realising that in order to achieve this common goal, we needed each other. I was inspired by the willingness of all team members and our guides to sacrifice their comfort in order to help a teammate. I can’t wait to bring this message of unity and teamwork back to our students,” reflected Lesang Sebaeng, a teacher for Nova Pioneer South Africa and member of the climbing team.

Nova Pioneer Education Group, an emerging network of innovative private schools across South Africa and Kenya, launched the K4TK initiative this past July as a way to build on its existing commitment to preparing the next generation of innovators and leaders to succeed in the 21st-Century.

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Lucky Thusi
Southern COURIER News Editor

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