Partner Spotlight: Global Teachers Institute

Teach with Africa is thrilled to welcome Dr. Fay Hodza to his role as Executive Director for the Global Teachers Institute!

Watch this brief video interview with Dr. Fay Hodza, as he tells us what he envisions for our partnership and for South Africa.

To learn more about the Emergence Campaign and donate, please go here.

Get to know Fay Hodza, Global Teachers Institute’s new Executive Director

Please share your background: Where you grew up, who you looked up to, your educational background, and your career trajectory.

I was born and raised in a rural village called Chitepo in the Mashonaland Central Province of Zimbabwe. My maternal grandparents raised me. My mother was very young when she gave birth to me. My father was never involved in my upbringing. No one has ever explained to me the exact circumstances of my birth until today. I am grateful to my maternal grandparents, who raised me like their own. They valued education. They sacrificed everything they had for me to get a good education. At one point, they had to sell our last ox for them to pay for my tuition and examination fees. This inspired me to do my best to excel in school. I am a product of the generosity and sacrifices of family, friends, and other well-wishers who have supported my personal and professional growth and development. 

Educationally, I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Sociology and social anthropology from the University of Zimbabwe. In 2008, I was fortunate to be awarded the prestigious Fulbright scholarship to pursue my doctorate in human and community development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA). After graduation in 2012, I worked briefly as a lecturer of Sociology at Africa University, a pan-African institution, whose mission was to invest in Africa’s future through higher education training of the continent’s young people. From there, I moved to South Africa, where I accepted the role of a lecturer of sociology at Monash, South Africa, which was then a campus of Monash University, Australia. I rose through the ranks until I became the Head of the School of Social Sciences. At the beginning of 2020, I accepted a new role as the Academic Director of the African Leadership University in Rwanda. My mandate was to drive a transformative academic culture that would lead to the creation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders in and for Africa who would solve the continent’s wicked problems. 

Although my work at the African Leadership University was fulfilling, I yearned for an opportunity to focus on teacher education and development. There has always been a deep belief in me that quality teacher training is the solution to creating transformative global leaders. I think of teaching as the mother of all professions. Without teachers, all other professions will not exist. Therefore, it was very easy for me to accept the role of Executive Director of GTI. Our bold vision is to see every school in South Africa becoming a site for innovative teacher education and development. Alongside a number of like-minded partners and funders, we aim to produce 25,000 globally-minded teachers every year in South Africa by 2030, alongside taking the GTI model into the rest of Africa. We will, together, become catalysts for quality teacher education and development in South Africa and beyond through a scalable and replicable school-based teacher internship program using a developmental process of reflection, empathy, social responsibility, and instructional and academic mastery.

I am grateful for the support that we have received from various funders and partners, especially Teach With Africa (TWA). 

You describe yourself as being “passionate about creating, delivering, and scaling up educational opportunities for students of all ages in both formal and informal settings”. What drives and sustains this passion?

My passion for creating educational opportunities for students of all ages is driven and sustained by both my personal experiences and the education reality in Africa. First, without the privilege of the great education that I received from childhood to date, I would not have emerged to become the educational leader that I am today. Education unlocked the extraordinary opportunities that I have enjoyed in life. Indeed, education is a powerful weapon that we can use to change the world. I am also inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who said,  “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” For me, education is the best way to uplift humanity and give them dignity and enable them to achieve their life missions.

However, I also know that the education landscape in Africa is characterized by serious challenges that include poor teacher quality, poor funding, inequitable resource allocation, and irrelevant curriculum. I am committed to improving the quality of education in Africa. Therefore, my personal mission to solve Africa’s most pressing problems in education gives me the energy to wake up every morning to drive the agenda to change Africa’s education for the better. GTI is an incredible space and vehicle to pursue this agenda. The GTI appetite for learning, innovation, and challenging destructive educational systems and cultures are as contagious as it is inspiring. I love it. It inspires me.

Congratulations on your recent appointment as the new Executive Director of the Global Teachers Institute! What excites and intrigues you about this role and organization?

I am excited by the prospect of developing a truly transformative initial teacher education and development organization. In this role, I will work both “on” and “in” the organization. I will spend 30% of my time overseeing the program operations and 70% of my time developing systems and processes that will position GTI as the leading alternative initial teacher education program in South Africa before expanding into the rest of the African continent. 

I am also excited to be part of a deeply committed, talented, and agile team of education leaders who are passionate about teacher quality in South Africa. The team understands that we are building an organization that will outlive all of us. Like the big cathedrals of this world, we are on a path to creating a long-lasting impact in Africa’s education sector. We have a powerful vision to create opportunities for historically and economically disadvantaged township and rural communities to obtain quality teachers and learning. 

  1. What is a book that you have read in the past or are currently reading that inspires or informs your life or work? Who are some of your favourite authors?

I am inspired by the biblical wisdom that says, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” I have been blessed with some extraordinary opportunities to visit, study, and live in many parts of the world, including the USA, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Colombia, Australia, Zambia, Namibia, to name but a few. I owe it to the universe, family, and the society at large to do my best to serve with painstaking excellence in appreciation of the blessings that I have received. In addition to the Bible as a source of wisdom, I am also inspired by radical authors like Bell Hooks (Teaching to transgress) and Paulo Freire (the pedagogy of the oppressed). The other books that you will find on my bookshelf are by Beverly Jones (Think like an entrepreneur and act like a CEO) and by Collins & Porrass (Built to last: successful habits of visionary companies). Entrepreneurial and innovative thinking as well as building scalable and impactful programs has been my focus from the time I began my career as an educator and education leader. We must build GTI for long-lasting impact and relevance.

  1. Is there a quote or proverb that resonates with you? Please share it.

I don’t have one. I have three of them and I have already referred to the above. 

  1. To whom much is given, much is expected (Bible).
  2. Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world (Nelson Mandela).
  3. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr).
  1. Are there hobbies you enjoy individually and  as a family? 

My wife and children love swimming. I often sit by the side of our swimming pool while watching them enjoying themselves. It gives me joy to watch my family having fun. Individually, I love watching professional soccer on TV. I follow the Zimbabwean, South African, and English premier leagues. I support Highlanders (Zim),  Kaizer Chiefs (SA), and Liverpool (EPL). I also do active sport- I enjoy playing volleyball. My height gives me an amazing advantage. I was in the senior team from the 9th grade in high school. Many people think that my height will make me a great basketball player too. I am open to learning to play basketball. 

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