Our client Via Afrika links different classrooms around the world through Penpal Schools, enabling students to interact with and discover content from around the world. Marius du Plessis, of Via Afrika, appeared on Benito Vergotine’s show on Smile FM to discuss the collaboration between Via Afrika and Penpal Schools.


This interview aired on Smile FM on the 22nd of October 2015

Via Afrika is excited to announce that they have teamed up with online global learning community, PenPal Schools, to help students around the world work together to learn about a variety of topics, and each other.

PenPal Schools connects over 70,000 students in more than 85 countries through curriculum-guided online exchanges. Classes around the world are paired, and each student is matched with a PenPal for a six week exchange. Via Afrika have developed a first course for PenPal Schools entitled Walking to Freedom, which introduces students to the concepts of prejudice, discrimination and racism, and tells the stories of civic leaders who dedicated their lives to freedom, justice and equality.

Said Christina Watson, CEO of Via Afrika: “Via Afrika couldn’t be prouder to be partnering with PenPal Schools. This first initiative will allow students all around the world, to explore content detailing the injustices suffered by famous civil rights leaders – right here in South Africa and in the rest of the world; in recent times with our own Nelson Mandela, all the way back to the 15thcentury.”

The course begins with an in-depth look at struggles with racism faced by the world’s indigenous peoples through the 15th to 18th centuries, after which students are taken through the non-violent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. The heroism of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Helen Joseph and Rosa Parks is covered too. The course concludes in the present day with students learning about champions of human rights fighting for change in the 21st century.

By sharing their responses with a PenPal, students engage meaningfully with the content, discovering other cultures and exploring history and social issues.The aim of this course is to help students to connect and discuss these often-difficult topics that confront people. Walking to Freedom will hopefully inspire students to become advocates for peace and champions for change in their own communities.

“We’re extremely excited to partner with Via Afrika to bring this fantastic course to learners around the world,” said PenPal Schools founder Joe Troyen. “We started PenPal Schools to help to build understanding and respect for all people and this course will teach our PenPals about leaders who fought for those ideals.”

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