GD UBUNTU Schooling Initiative


In 2005 the South African Department of Education published a study stating: “To avert an imminent shortage [of teachers], government must embark on an intense drive to interest younger people into the profession.” The same study stated that “... between 17,000 and 20,000 teachers [were] lost to the system each year.”

Five years later (2010) the same department said it needed 20,000 new and trained teachers every year but only about 8,000 teachers were being produced.

A study published in 2011 by Centre For Development And Enterprise (CDE) states: “the teacher training system is producing about a third of the country’s requirement of about 25 000 new teachers a year... It is clear that South Africa cannot continue to rely solely on current systems to train more and better teachers.”

This suggests a shortfall in South Africa of at least 12,000 teachers each year, or roughly 60% short of what is needed annually. This shortfall is cumulative, pointing to the gap growing by 12,000 teachers every year, and it is clear that the existing teacher training facilities can not even keep up, let alone close the growing gap between the number of available teachers and the number needed. This has been the case for years, and some have claimed that the shortfall is currently at more than 50.000 teachers.


To develop, research, and offer a cutting edge educators' training proposition using the latest thinking in education and personal development. The Ubuntu teaching approach does not rely on proprietary materials or resources. All that is needed for exceptionally successful literacy and numeracy teaching is the skill of the Ubuntu trained teacher/facilitator, a few sheets of paper and half a kilo of plasticine per learner.

Ubuntu schooling is an initiative with a short term mission and a long term mission. The short term mission is to address the growing crisis around shortage of teachers in South Africa by offering a fast-track training, providing basic teaching skills to unqualified people wanting to facilitate efficient learning of literacy and numeracy. Alongside this we wish to offer existing teachers an effective upskilling route, addressing personal literacy and numeracy issues within the teaching profession.

The long term mission is to create a world-class, cost effective, sustainable fast-track training for unqualified people interested in teaching the key foundation skills of education (literacy and numeracy).

To develop a four week course for training up Ubuntu learning facilitators with exceptional skills for basic literacy and numeracy teaching.


  1. Secure funding for a research pilot.

  2. Sign up 20 people interested in being trained through the Ubuntu schooling pilot, and choose 20 teacher training graduates as a control group.

  3. Train the Ubuntu facilitators for 4 weeks.

  4. Have them teach for 1 year and benchmark them against the control group of teacher training graduates.

  5. If they show equal or better results compared with the control group, then we would seek funding for nation-wide roll-out and start development of a framework with all stakeholders for fitting the Ubuntu learning facilitators into the workplace.

The key set of skills and competencies provided in the four week Ubuntu training have been shown not only to provide unparalleled efficiency in teaching basic literacy skills (reading), but they have also virtually eliminated special needs referrals in schools where they have been diligently applied. A bonus benefit is the fact that people trained in Ubuntu schooling will have the basic skills needed to address learning difficulties in both literacy and numeracy, which in most developed countries demands on-going about 15% of the education budget. The teaching and learning strategies at the core of the Ubuntu schooling initiative, are also unique in how easily they can be deployed in multi-lingual communities. See below a video interviewing parents, learners, and staff at Walsh Elementary School in Colorado, USA, which topped the charts in Colorado for literacy. All stakeholders in the school credit the system we intend to use.

Walsh Elementary School

Another issue within the current South African education system, which the Ubuntu Schooling initiative can address very efficiently, is when an individual has the responsibility for teaching, but does not possess the required literacy or numeracy skills needed to teach. The Ubuntu Schooling initiative can improve both their literacy and numeracy skills by two years in a two-week programme.

The Ubuntu Schooling structure

In only four weeks we aim to provide an unqualified individual with the skills required to facilitate mastery of literacy and numeracy to a standard comparable to a fully qualified teacher training graduate.

In the first week we provide training in literacy facilitation (reading), based on the Davis Learning Strategies and The Gift of Dyslexia workshop. This structured facilitation can through 30 hours of literacy work, get a learner from total illiteracy to basic reading proficiency. In a normal classroom environment this process would be expected to take about two years, but we expect it would pretty much ENSURE proficient reading fluency for ALL learners.

In the second week we provide training in numeracy facilitation (arithmetic/maths), based on Ron Davis' procedures, outlined in the book The Gift of Learning. These procedures have been shown to deliver a two year jump in numeracy skills in 30 hour of facilitation.

The remaining two weeks are dedicated to training in effective communication and relationship skills required to manage a group of learners in a classroom. For this we use life coaching, personal development training and communication strategies inspired by the book How to Teach so Kids will Listen and how to Listen so Kids will Learn, along with latest life coaching practices which have been developed and honed at Synergy School over the past 7 years. On-site mentoring is also provided for the first year.

Teacher education should address ‘pre-service’ as well as ‘in-service’ development. Teachers learn implicitly during their own schooling experiences, their pre-service training and through their own experience in practice, which has a dramatic impact on how they convey their subject matter knowledge.

Quote from Teacher Education Review, a Contract Project by the Centre for Evaluation and Assessment, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria for the Shuttleworth Foundation

Future vision of the Ubuntu Schooling Initiative

Education worldwide is in crisis. Despite increasing funds being committed to education, basic literacy and numeracy standards are falling rather than rising. In agreement with leading educationalist Sir Ken Robinson, we believe this calls for a completely new approach to education. We need an all new paradigm in schooling. See Sir Ken Robinson's video on

If we can prove that the Ubuntu approach works as we expect, we will have created genuine proposition for a simple and very cost-effective solution to the short term teacher crisis in South Africa, but we will also have created a genuine proposition; a highly effective, low cost teacher training for any developing country. As a bonus, this proposition has the potential to prevent learning difficulties before they arise, saving at least 10% of future education budget for special needs, and creating an environment which produces immense work satisfaction for teachers, reduces burn-out, and stems teacher attrition. Furthermore, we will have created a a continuous professional development (CPD) training proposition for improving existing teacher training in the developed world. This can be offered as a CPD course for existing teachers and it can be integrated into existing teacher training in order to prepare future teachers for the new paradigm in teaching.

Benefits for the developed countries of the world

If the Ubuntu Schooling Initiative succeeds, we will not only have improved literacy, numeracy, and therefore education as a whole in the developing world, but we will have addressed a severe crisis due to teacher shortages in South Africa, helped preventing burn-out and attrition within the teaching profession, improved cost-effectiveness of the SA education system, and created a teaching culture which nurtures giftedness, producing greater numbers of learners who will be the future's innovators and leaders in society as a whole.

If the Ubuntu Schooling Initiative succeeds, the developing world will have created an opportunity to lead the way in forming the new paradigm of education. The developed world will have no choice but to sit up and take note. Because we have greater room for improvement, we can more clearly demonstrate the benefits of this approach, while at the same time we are addressing urgent problems in our own SA education system.


Research on the Davis approach is outlined here:

Media articles about US schools which have used the Davis methods to achieve amazing results:

Centre For Development And Enterprise study, VALUE IN THE CLASSROOM: The quantity and quality of South Africa's teachers:

For further information contact:

Axel Gudmundsson,

Director of Gifted Dyslexic, and Capella House School.

Tel no. 021 783 2722


Websites: and

Axel Gudmundsson,
26 Jan 2016, 13:08