An Educational Vision
Yunus Peer, who earned his master’s degree in Public Administration from UNH in the 1990s, helped found Teachers Across Borders Southern Africa (TABSA). He explained that it is a 100% volunteer organization that is funded through donations. The program is in its 17th year and is based in Hawaii, where Peer is a teacher.
In 2017, there are 10 teachers and five staff members who provide support.
“The education departments in South Africa and Swaziland decide where they need us most,” Peer explained. “We have worked in 7 different South African provinces. Last year we also partnered with UNICEF in a national program for teacher training in Swaziland.”
According to Peer, TABSA started from the Apartheid legacy.
“In 1953, the Bantu Education Act decreed that math and science for black students was only necessary at an elementary level because their destiny in life was to be subservient to the white man,” Peer explained.
He added that his activist father was harassed in the 70s and 80s by the police for building schools in black communities.
“In 2001, working with the new Minister of Education Kader Asmal, I brought a team of U.S. math teachers to South Africa prepared to work with local teachers and local challenges,” Peer said. “In 2001, our U.S. team worked with 100 teachers and 100 students.”
He explained that 16 years later, more than 5,000 South African teachers have attended TABSA workshops. More than 120 volunteers from the United States have served on the math and science teams.
Peer credits the master’s program at UNH toward his success. He said it made him “aware of the complexities of bureaucracies.”
“As a result, I have always wanted to operate an organization that minimizes administrative costs and maximizes efficiency and value, characteristics that generally elude public bureaucracies,” Peer explained. “TABSA runs 4 week-long professional development workshops for more than 500 teachers every summer. TABSA also runs a computer and school uniform program. We are a grass roots organization funded by private donations.”
Peer worked at Proctor Academy in New Hampshire for 13 years before returning to Hawaii in 1997, where he works at Punahou School.