A School for Humanity: Confronting Division and Trauma Through Lived Values in Burundi

Jonathan Barnes, Alex Ntung


The Burundi American International Academy is an independent school in central Africa. It was established eight years ago expressly to generate potential leaders motivated to build peace, humanity and economic development in an impoverished country beset by political, ethnic, environmental and development challenges. The purpose of this research is to evaluate progress toward achieving the school’s aims to create such leaders through instilling and modelling the values of integrity, excellence, responsibility, passion, compassion and respect .

The study used qualitative approaches including semi-structured conversations, observations, video, questionnaires and follow-up interviews to provide data. Data was analysed using Grounded Theory to identify the characteristics of a model intended to deliver sustainable positive change in social processes through education.

Significant findings were that the school had developed a strong, united, persuasive and perhaps self-fulfilling narrative about its successes. This narrative shared between teachers, students, governors and parents, included convincing evidence of deep understanding of the relationship between values and action at macro and micro levels. The strong motivation among teachers and other adult participants towards sustaining its aims was reinforced by evidence of frequent values discussions and values-focussed in-service training.

Theory arising from grounded research led to discussion on staff training and curriculum coverage. This included suggestions on involving connections to the school’s humanitarian values and philosophy, cross-curricular approaches to Sustainable Development Goals and closer relations between the subject disciplines. Establishing inclusive values within a privileged minority in a divided and impoverished society and balancing charitable attitudes with aspirations to high status, were revealed as significant challenges for the school. While student admission to North American universities may result in losing of some promising future leaders, the school offers a globally transferrable example of how to establish and sustain a values-creating school.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/jets.v12i1.6424


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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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