RYE School Philosophy


The RYE School Philosophy

RYE Schools (Recycle Your Education) take a radical approach to education in developing communities. We at Meaningful Volunteer want to make our RYE Schools not just a way to prop up failing education systems, not just a way to kids to be kept amused by “volunteer tourists”, but world class educational facilities that we would be proud to send our own kids to.

How to we accomplish this?

Good question!

Ownership and Recycling

One of the most important concepts in running any development project is the concept of ownership. If people feel that they own something, then they are much more likely to take pride in something and the end results are likely to be much more beneficial.

Some important lessons can be learned by mosquito net programs in Africa. One of the worst ways to combat malaria is to give mosquito nets away. If you just give them away, the recipients will almost certainly not know how to use them effectively, curse the nets for turning an already muggy night even muggier, curse the donor for giving them a net that doesn’t prevent malaria and they’ll either end up selling the net or using it as a fishnet.

A much better approach is to sell the nets (at a heavily discounted rate) and back it up with an educational campaign. If people value the nets (because they have paid for them) and understand why the nets are important (because they have been educated about malaria) then the chances of them getting malaria are so much smaller.

We believe in the concept of ownership at Meaningful Volunteer and want to implement this idea at our RYE schools.

Paying with Garbage

But how to you charge people for a service when they have no money? Well first you shake off the idea the money is the only thing of value. Time is also of great value to many people and it is this resource we wish to trade.

And how can we put this resource to use? The collection of Garbage!

Kids will pay for their education with garbage. If a kid brings us one hundred aluminium cans, then that’s good enough for a terms worth of fees. If a kid brings us five bags of garbage from the beach, then that is good enough for a terms worth of fees.

The environmental benefits are obvious.

World Class Facilities

You cannot give world class education without world class resources. RYE Schools will take all students through series of internationally developed English books.

Each RYE School will also be equipped with a computer lab with internet connectivity. Just the ability to type provides huge advantages in a computer dominated world. Course will also be given in Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.

Lesson Plans and Training

Many other volunteer programs place untrained teachers with zero experience in developing countries with zero resources and expect them to perform miracles.  This is the very antithesis of a meaningful experience.

Here at Meaningful Volunteer, we believe in equipping volunteers with as much information and training as we can.  We have indepth help available for our English land series of books and here are just a few examples of the type of resources you'll have available to you.  Check out an online lesson plan. Food

A full stomach is one of the most important educational aids. Kids who are not hungry are more likely to take in information than those that are not.

Before the start of each lesson, kids will be provided with some type of sugary drink and some type of a snack – such as peanuts.


The RYE Schools will be staffed by international volunteers gathered through the Meaningful Volunteer network. Part of the volunteers’ fees will be used to fund the school. A fulltime local staff member (paid at 200% of market rate) will also be employed to run the school and teach the children during the traditional quiet volunteer times.

Measure and Compare. Measure and Compare.

The RYE Schools could be a bad idea. They might end up be detrimental to a child’s education!

So how we will know if we are doing a good thing or a bad thing? How do we know if we are being meaningful?

Measure and Compare. Measure and Compare.

Before planning a RYE School, we will canvas local schools, out of schools youths and basically anyone who is willing to take an educational test and receive a small amount of recompense. The first time a student enters the school, then will be given the same test.

After some time passes, we will then repeat the tests. If the level of education in the RYE School kids has not improved significantly over the others who have taken the test, then we are doing something wrong and something needs to change.

Similar tests can be done to compare students in the food program and students not in the food program and help to answer the questions like: “Does a full belly really help with the education? The kids are hungry, but are they hungry enough to make a food program worthwhile?”

Help us make our RYE Schools a reality

We are excited by the concept of our RYE Schools. If you like the idea, and want to be a part of it, why not volunteer with us?